20 Beautiful Birds of America?

Which are the most beautiful birds? I started to make a list of ten but quickly that led to 20. Even with 20 picks this was difficult. There are so many dazzling, splendid birds to choose from. But a picture is worth a thousand words so enjoy these! Click on any photo to see it big and beautiful. Here are my picks in no particular order. Do you have a favorite? Let me know yours.

Painted Bunting

The Painted Bunting is in the cardinal family and native to North America. The male Painted Bunting is often described as the most beautiful bird in North America and as such has been nicknamed nonpareil, or “without equal.” Its colors, dark blue head, green back, red rump, and underparts, make it extremely easy to identify, but it can still be difficult to spot since it often skulks in foliage even when singing.


Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is a perching duck found in North America. The drake Wood Duck is one of the most colorful North American waterfowls with stunning multicolored iridescent plumage and red eyes, and a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colorful but elegant, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.



Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is a species of fish-eating duck. The bird is striking in appearance; both sexes have crests that they can raise or lower, and the breeding plumage of the male is handsomely patterned and colored. The adult female has a greyish-brown body, with a narrow white patch over the lower breast and belly. She has a light reddish-brown crest extending from the back of the head.


Chestnut-sided Warbler

The Chestnut-sided Warbler is a New World warbler. In the summer, male Chestnut-sided Warblers are unmistakable in appearance. They display dark-streaked gray backs, white faces, black eye stripes and yellow crowns. Their underparts are white, with chestnut flanks, and they also have two white wing bars. The adult females resemble washed-out versions of the summer male.


Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing is a member of the waxwing family of passerine birds. It is a medium-sized, mostly brown, gray, and yellow. Their markings are a “silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers. These wax-like droplets are attributed to the pigmented and medullary layers of the secondary tip being surrounded by a transparent cuticle. The wings are “broad and pointed, like a starling’s.


American Kestrel

The American Kestrel, also called the Sparrow Hawk, is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. Males have blue-grey wings with black spots and white undersides with black barring. The back is rufous, with barring on the lower half. The belly and flanks are white with black spotting. The tail is also rufous. The back and wings of the female American kestrel are rufous with dark brown barring. The undersides of the females are creamy to buff with heavy brown streaking. The tail is noticeably different from the male’s, rufous in color with numerous narrow dark black bars.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird in eastern North America. The adult male has a gorget (throat patch) of iridescent ruby red bordered narrowly with velvety black on the upper margin and a forked black tail with a faint violet sheen. The red iridescence is highly directional and appears dull black from many angles. The female has a notched tail with outer feathers banded in green, black, and white and a white throat that may be plain or lightly marked with dusky streaks or stipples.


Elegant Trogon

The Elegant Trogon, previously known as the coppery-tailed trogon, is a near passerine bird. Males are often brightly colored. They have red-orange lower chest and belly and metallic deep green back. They get their old name from the copper shade on their backsides. Their face and throat are a dark black and they have a white band going across the chest. Their upper wings are grey and their long square-tipped tail feathers are usually brown on the upper side and white undertail with black horizontal stripes.


Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a passerine bird in the Corvis family. Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue, and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are almost identical, but the male is slightly larger.


Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager is a medium-sized American songbird. Until recently, it was placed in the tanager family, but it and other members of its genus are now classified as belonging to the cardinal family. Adult males are crimson-red with black wings and tail. The coloration is intense and deep. Females are yellowish on the underparts and olive on top, with yellow-olive-toned wings and tail. The adult male’s winter plumage is similar to the female’s, but the wings and tail remain darker.


Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is also known colloquially as the redbird, common cardinal, red cardinal, or just cardinal. Females are a reddish olive color, and have a gray mask around the beak, while males are a vibrant red color, and have a black mask on the face, as well as a larger crest. Juvenile cardinals do not have the distinctive red-orange beak seen in adult birds until they are almost fully mature.


Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird is a small North American migratory thrush found in open woodlands, farmlands, and orchards. The bright-blue breeding plumage of the male, easily observed on a wire or open perch, makes this species a favorite of birders. Male bluebirds have a bright head, back, and wings. Their breast is a brownish red. Females are lighter with gray on the head and back and some blue on their wings and tail. In females, the breast is usually lighter in color than in males, and is more orange.


Blackburnian Warbler

The Blackburnian Warbler is a small New World warbler. Male Blackburnian Warblers display dark gray backs and double white wing bars, with yellowish rumps and dark brown crowns. The head is strongly patterned in yellow and black, with a flaming-orange throat. It is the only North American warbler with this striking plumage.



Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker or Common Flicker is a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. A necklace-like black patch occupies the upper breast, while the lower breast and belly are beige with black spots. Males can be identified by a black or red mustachial stripe at the base of the beak, while females lack this stripe. The tail is dark on top, transitioning to a white rump which is conspicuous in flight.


Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is a small icterid blackbird common in eastern North America. It received its name from the resemblance of the male’s colors to those on the coat-of-arms of 17th century Lord Baltimore. The adult male is orange on the underparts, shoulder patch and rump, with some birds appearing a very deep flaming orange and others appearing yellowish orange.


Violet-Green Swallow

The Violet-green Swallow is a small North American passerine bird in the swallow family. This swallow is glossy green on the top of the head and back as well as hints of purple on the nape, rump and upper tail. Below the green back, the remainder of the wing is a grayish-bronze. Below the green back, the remainder of the wing is a grayish-bronze.



Green Jay

The Green Jay is a species of the New World jays. It has feathers of yellowish-white with blue tips on the top of the head, cheeks and nape. The breast and underparts range from bright yellow to pale green in the north. The upper parts are rich green. It has large nasal bristles that form a distinct tuft in some subspecies, but are less developed in others.



American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch is a small North American bird in the finch family. Once the spring molt is complete, the body of the male is a brilliant lemon yellow, a color produced by carotenoid pigments from plant materials in its diet, with a striking jet black cap and white rump that is visible during flight.



Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak, colloquially called “cut-throat” due to its coloration, is a large, seed-eating grosbeak in the cardinal family. The adult male in breeding plumage has a black head, wings, back, and tail, and a bright rose-red patch on its breast; the wings have two white patches and rose-red linings. Its underside and rump are white.



Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker is a mid-sized woodpecker found in temperate North America. Adults are distinctly tricolored, with a black back and tail, a white belly and rump, and a red head and neck. The wings are black with white secondary flight feathers. Adult males and females are identical in plumage. Juveniles have similar markings, but their heads are grey. Red-headed woodpeckers are entirely crimson above their shoulders.


Sources: https://www.birdpixel.com. Wikipedia.

Ross A. FeldnerRCC Board Member
Email: Ross Feldner

Publications and Web Consultant, Ross FeldnerRoss Feldner is the lead, with Bob Musil, of the RCC Bird Watch and Wonder Program. Ross is a life-long birder and photographer who is the editor of the Friends of Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge newsletter. Ross also serves as a guide at the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, a frequent birding spot for Rachel Carson who first learned about the health effects of DDT at the laboratory there. He is also the owner/art director of New Age Graphics, a full-service graphic design firm in Wheaton, MD.

Some images: https://www.birdpixel.com. Descriptions: Wikipedia.