Bright and Colorful Beatiful Birds

Oh, how we birdwatchers love to spot bright and colorful beautiful birds! Which are the brightest? I give these North American birds bright bird awards.

Bright red birds
Perhaps one of the most loved and most commonly seen bright colored birds is the Northern Cardinal. The Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, is a beautiful red with a black face and a red crest and bill. He is a friendly bird that loves sunflower seeds and comes happily to feeders.

The Vermilion Flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus, sports a startling scarlet belly, breast, throat and head with black wing and tail feathers.

The Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea, is also an eyeful. His head and his body are a scarlet-red with black wings and tail feathers.

Pink bird
Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, has green back and sides, a white chest and central body with a bright-rose iridescent head. I think it is because the Anna's head and neck feathers are such a shimmering pink, like sequins on an elegant evening gown, and a color we don't often associate with birds that this bird is such a winner.

Yellow birds
Yellow-throated Vireo, Vireo flaviforns, has a bright yellow throat, breast and eye ring and lores (spectacle-like markings). This vireo has two bold white wing bars and white underparts.

The Yellow Warbler, Dendroica petechia, is sunshine yellow with red streaks on the breast and black streaks in the wing and tail feathers. His black eyes have white lores or spectacle-like rings. His tail has yellow spots.

Bright orange bird
Altamira Oriole, Icterus gularis, has black wings with streaks of orange, white and yellow. His head and his shoulder patch are a yellowish orange. His face and throat are stark contrasting black.

Green birds
The Green Jay, Cyanocorax yncas, is a bird that is hard to forget. His crown is a striking blue. His back and belly and tail are green with a yellow edge on the tail feathers

The Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris, has a light-green back and darker green wings. His head and shoulders are dark blue and his belly and throat are red. Around his black eye is a red ring.

Blue birds
Blue Grosbeak, Guiraca caerulea, is a common bird, but not often recognized despite his bright colors. He tends to stay high in the trees and may be mistaken for a Blue Jay, although he is much shorter at seven inches to the Blue Jay's 12 inches. The Grosbeak is blue all over except for two red wing bars and the black eyes and white beak.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Dendroica caerulescens. The male of this species has a white belly and chest. The top of his head and his back and tail feathers are a beautiful blue, while his face and shoulders are black. What a pretty little bird he is.

The Ringed Kingfisher, Ceryle torquata, is blue-gray of wings, head and back with a sparkling white collar. His breast is blue and his belly red with a white breast band. The male has all red underparts. In this species the female is the brightest.

The Indigo Bunting, passerine cyanea, is a tiny streak of deep blue. He is such a bright blue as to be unmistakable in flight.

A black and white and red bird
Black and white and red-headed is the Red-Headed Woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus. He is such a wonderful sight because of the contrasting black back and upper wings and tail to the white chest, belly and wide, white wing feathers. The fire-engine-red neck and head are striking.

Oh, yes, there are so many gorgeous birds. These are only a few of my bright-colored favorites. I'm sure you will have your own list. So many colors-so many wonderful birds. You might enjoy adding a list of your favorites to your birdwatching journal.

Question of the day

What causes the varied colors found in feathers?

Some are made by pigments of actual color, but most color and pattern result from the reflection and refraction of light due to the structure of the feathers. The color is influenced by underlying pigments. Carotenoids produce red and yellow. Melanin pigment appears in browns of all shades from reddish brown to dull yellow. Blue, green and violet pigments are rare, yet these colors are not rare in birds. When light hits the feathers it breaks up (like light in a prism). Some colors are absorbed and some reflected, so we see the bird's plumage as a certain color.

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