1. The Bali Bird of Paradise
There are many kinds of bird-of-paradise, all of which have truly beautiful displays, and most are found on the island of New Guinea. Forty types are known to biologists, all highly memorable because the plumage of the male birds is so wonderfully colourful. Particular kinds have highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the beak, wings and head, and give mating displays that can take your breath away. You are only ever likely to see them on film, though, because they mostly live in inaccessible, dense rainforest habitats.
The Scarlet Macaw is the bird we imagine on the shoulder of the pirate Long John Silver, though it would weigh heavy after a while. This is a big and colorful bird with a long tail, weighing in at around 2.2lbs. The incredibly bright plumage comes in colours ranging from the scarlet for which it is named, through to light blue, yellow, dark red with metallic gold iridescence, and even some green in the wings. They have bare white skin around the eye down to the beak, and lots of tiny white feathers on their faces. Native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics, this truly spectacular bird is yet another glorious example of how creative nature can be in ensuring the survival of species.
The Golden or “Chinese Pheasant” is another type of bird that catches the eye with a wonderful display of colour. These are gamebirds, native to western China, although they have been bred in other countries like the UK, and are unmistakably lovely with a golden crest, rump and bright red body. When showing off to attract a mate, the male spreads his deep orange 'cape', which looks just like a black and orange fan covering everything except the bright yellow eye. A truly magnificent sight.
The Rainbow Lorikeet is very colourful – almost every colour of the rainbow can be found on their feathers. Lorikeets are parrots from Australasia, which can be found found on many Pacific islands, and are common along the eastern seaboard of Australia and Tasmania. Usually found in rainforest, coastal bush and woodland areas, they are one of the most visually attractive birds in the world.
Eastern Asia is where you might come across the truly gorgeous Stork-billed Kingfisher, a wonderfully colourful tree-dweller that once more demonstrates the wonder of nature. A big bird for its type, at around 14in long, the strutting male shows off green, blue, grey, buff, and bright red body parts to female onlookers in yet another fabulous display. These birds live in a variety of well-wooded habitats near lakes, rivers and coasts, and are territorial enough to chase away eagles and other intruders.
At first sight this seems quite a threatening creature, but the Keel-billed, Sulfur-breasted or Rainbow-billed Toucan, is truly a splendid sight to see. This South American bird, the national bird of Belize, spends its time high up in the canopies of rainforests. These are yet more drop-dead gorgeous examples of what lengths Mother Nature goes to so that the boys will attract the girls. Blow-your-mind beautiful is the only way that creatures like these can be accurately be described. It is truly a privilege to see them.
Small can be every bit as attractive as large, and a brilliant example of this is the male Painted Bunting, often described as the most beautiful bird in North America. With body colors from dark blue, green, red and shades between, it is still difficult to spot as it hides even when singing. The Painted Bunting is found in thickets, woodland edges and brushy areas, along roadsides, in suburban areas, and gardens all over the USA, a truly beautiful little living rainbow that will gladden your heart.