A common trait among some of the most magnificently looking birds is the presence of a noticeable crown. No, this isn’t the type of crown you place on a monarch, but rather the crest that naturally grows on the top of their head. Many birds have crowns, but the majority of them are unremarkable; the birds with crowns that stand out are often named after them.
In this article, we’ll be going over 16 bird species that are known for their beautiful crowns, mainly due to sexual selection. As such, it’ll be primarily the males of these species that display the crowns.
1. Great Blue Turaco
Scientific Name: Corythaeola cristata
Range: Western Africa, Uganda, Rwanda
The great blue turaco is a fancy-looking bird with a red-and-yellow bill, intricate tail feathers that include a black bar across the end of the tail and pale green sides, turquoise blue, black, and yellow plumage, and a tall blue-black raised crown. It can grow up to 76 cm in length and is often hunted for its meat and feathers.
They can typically be found in small groups deep in the rainforest, gallery forest, or savannas with forest patches.
Their diet consists mainly of fruits, leaves, flowers, buds, shoots, and insects. They forage mainly in the evenings to avoid the hottest times of the day.
2. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
Scientific Name: Cacatua galerita
Range: North, East, and Southeastern Australia, Papua New Guinea
The Sulfur-crested cockatoo is a large white cockatoo with a dark bill, broad wings, and a beautifully plumed yellow crown that it often erects after landing. It flies using short glides between regular flaps, hence sometimes missing a wing beat. They’re sometimes demanded as a pet, though they are often seen as a pest in parts of Australia, where they can multiply quickly.
Their habitats are quite extensive in that they include almost all woodland habitats, including urban parks and gardens.
These birds are mainly herbivores that feed on seeds of grasses, herbaceous plants, trees, grain crops, as well as other berries, nuts, and roots. They feed both on the ground and in trees.
3. Crested Partridge
Scientific Name: Rollulus rouloul
Range: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
The crested partridge is a small, plump, and short-tailed bird that exhibits clear sexual dimorphism in which the males, in particular, have a dark, almost iridescent green body and a tall, fluffy red crown that slightly resembles a pompom.
On the other hand, females lack the crown and have a moss-green plumage in place of the dark green plumage found in males. Both sexes have a bright red ring around the eyes.
Their habitat includes wet forests, where they can be difficult to find as they often like to spend their time foraging quietly on the forest floors. Their diet consists of seeds, large fruits, insects, invertebrates, and occasionally small mollusks.
Scientific Name: Rhynochetos jubatus
Range: New Caledonia
The kagu is a small flightless bird that consists of a bluish-grey plumage, a long crown, and nasal corns that are unique among them. Their overall coloration has given them the nickname “the ghost of the forest” among locals.
The kagu lives in both the rain forests and drier forests of New Caledonia’s main island. They are known as a habitat generalist that can survive in a range of environments.
The kagu’s diet typically consists of insect larvae, spiders, centipedes, bugs, cockroaches, millipedes, beetles, snails, worms, and lizards. They use their rather long bill to dig into leaf litter and in between rocks to find their prey.
5. Gray-Crowned Crane
Scientific Name: Balearica regulorum
Range: Central-Southern Africa
The gray-crowned crane is a blue-gray crane with a black and white face and a bright crown with golden-yellow plumes. Immatures are of a rustier appearance.
These cranes can typically be found by themselves, in pairs, or in flocks in habitats such as wetlands, flooded grasslands, and around any artificial bodies of water. When foraging or under unpleasant weather, these birds can move to other open habitats.
The gray-crowned crane is an Omnivore that mainly eats plants, grain, insects, snakes, and small fish.
6. Black-Crowned Crane
Scientific Name: Balearica pavonina
Range: Central Africa
The black-crowned crane is a black plumaged crane with pale pink and white cheek patches, pale wing panels, and a yellow crown that looks similar to hay. The white wing panels become more distinctive in flight. Besides the fact that the black crowned crane is much darker overall and is pinker on the face, its appearance is very similar to that of the gray crowned crane.
The black-crowned crane is usually found in wetland habitats and dry fields, typically in pairs or flocks, which can sometimes grow quite large.
Similar to the gray-crowned crane, the black-crowned crane is also an omnivore. Their diet mainly consists of grasses, seeds, grains, crustaceans, small mammals, and reptiles.
7. Eurasian Hoopoe
Scientific Name: Upupa epops
Range: Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa
The Eurasian hoopoe is an orange-colored bird with zebra-striped wings, a long-curved bill, and an orange and black crown that resembles a Chinese fan in that it can open and close voluntarily.
The wings and crown are obviously what make this bird stand out and make it rather difficult to camouflage. The flight pattern and round wings can make it resemble a hummingbird, but its bill is much longer and thicker.
This bird prefers semi-open habitats such as heathland, farmland, orchards, and grassy lawns, where they’re usually feeding on the ground and searching for food using its long bill.
The Eurasian hoopoe is mainly carnivorous, in which they’ll typically consume insects, small reptiles, and frogs, but they’ll also go after seeds and berries occasionally.
8. Royal Flycatcher
Scientific Name: Onychorhynchus coronatus
Range: Central America, Northern South America
The Royal Flycatcher is a rarely seen, medium-sized, brown flycatcher that has a long bill, pale cinnamon-colored rump and tail, and a crown that is rarely opened.
Though rarely opened, the crown has some of the most magnificently designed patterns one can see in nature. Once revealed, the crown takes on a hammerhead shape that appears as a bright red and violet blue fan.
The royal flycatcher is native to humid tropical forests in the lowlands. They can be found in the open mid-level canopy, where they’re often zapping around looking for insects.
The royal flycatcher has a diet consisting mainly of ticks, leafhoppers, small cicadas, butterflies, dragonflies, and grasshoppers.
9. Polish Chicken
Scientific Name: Gallus gallus domesticus
Range: Europe (Origins unknown; possibly the Netherlands)
The Polish chicken is a special breed of crested chicken that was specially bred in Europe. As per its category, the Polish chicken has a very noticeable crown that makes it stand out among other typical domestic chickens. In fact, the feathers of its crown are so large that they often limit its vision and hide its earlobes.
The Polish chicken’s diet mainly consists of garden pests, high-quality protein feed, and most of the other foods you would typically feed your flock.
10. Victoria-Crowned Pigeon
Scientific Name: Goura victoria
Range: Papua New Guinea
The Victoria-crowned pigeon is a large pigeon that consists of a blue-gray plumaged body, a maroon chest, pale gray wing patches with maroon tips, and an elegant blue-white-tipped crown. The crown and its wing patch differentiate it from other crowned pigeons. It is one of, if not the largest pigeon species found in nature.
The Victoria-crowned pigeon prefers lowland swamp forest habitats, where they can be found foraging the forest floor for fallen fruit.
Like other pigeons, the Victoria-crowned pigeon exclusively feeds on the ground, where they can be found searching for fruit, seeds, grains, and small invertebrates. They have a particular fondness for figs.
11. Pink Cockatoo
Scientific Name: Lophochroa leadbeateri
The Pink Cockatoo is a relatively small unique cockatoo that consists of pink underparts, white upperparts, and an elegantly long, white crown that has a band of red and yellow at the base. The pink underwings can be seen during flight.
Preferred habitats for the pink cockatoo include dry woodlands, semi-arid, and other arid environments. They can be found throughout inland Australia, hence making it an “outback Australian icon.”
The diet for the pink cockatoo includes seeds, fruits, roots, nuts, tubers, and insect larvae. They are adaptable in their hunt for food since they’ll look for food on tree branches and the ground.
12. Black-Crowned Night Heron
Scientific Name: Nycticorax nycticorax
Range: North America, Central America, South America, Europe, South Asia, Southern Asia, and occasionally in Africa
The black-crowned night heron is a heavyset heron that consists of pale grayish plumage, red eyes, a black cap, and a black back. Juveniles are brown in color with streaks and have yellow eyes. The dark feathers on its head make it appear as if it’s wearing a genuine crown.
The black-crowned night heron can be found in many wetland and aquatic habitats around both fresh and salt water, such as marshes, rivers, ponds, and mangrove forests, around the globe.
As opportunistic carnivores, black-crowned night herons will feed on almost any prey they can get their claws on, both on land and in the water. Some examples of their prey include fish, frogs, tadpoles, snakes, and turtles. This, along with the fact that they can live in almost any aquatic environment, makes it obvious why the black-crowned night heron is such a widespread bird.
13. Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Scientific Name: Regulus satrapa
Range: North America, Mexico
The golden-crowned kinglet is a small and very active songbird that consists of black stripes on the head, a bold wing pattern, and a small yellow stripe on its head which can be flared into a bright orange crown when agitated. The females have a duller colored crown compared to the males.
The golden-crowned kinglet mainly lives in coniferous forests, where they’re often found high up in conifer trees. They breed mainly in boreal or montane forests, such as in spruce or fir trees.
The golden-crowned kinglet’s diet mainly consists of insects, such as small beetles, gnats, caterpillars, and aphids. They’ll often hover in the air and flick their wings while foraging.
14. Orange-Crowned Warbler
Scientific Name: Leiothlypis celata
Range: North America, Mexico
The orange-crowned warbler is a rather shy bird that is olive plumaged overall, though different populations can vary from gray to a brighter yellow. It has a short dark line through the eye and pale eye arcs. The males have a faint yellow coloration on their face and crown, which becomes a bright orange during the breeding season, hence their name.
Their typical habitats include scrubby areas, woodland edges, and other environments with dense, low vegetation.
The diets of the orange-crowned warbler depend on the season; they consume mainly insects and their larvae during summer, and tree sap, nectar, and berries during winter.
15. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Scientific Name: Corthylio calendula
Range: North America, Mexico
The ruby-crowned kinglet is another small and active songbird similar to the golden-crowned kinglet. It has an uneven white eye ring, plain olive plumage overall, greenish edges on the wing and tail feathers, and the namesake ruby crown that is only present in males. The crown is usually concealed but is flared up when the bird is agitated.
The ruby-crowned kinglet prefers habitats such as coniferous forests, deciduous forests, shrubby woodland, and field edges.
The ruby-crowned kinglet’s diet consists mainly of insects, such as small beetles, flies, leafhoppers, and caterpillars. They’ll also consume spiders and the eggs of both insects and spiders if given a chance.
16. White-Crowned Sparrow
Scientific Name: Zonotrichia leucophrys
Range: North America, Northern Mexico
The white-crowned sparrow is a large sparrow with a long tail, black and white stripes on the head, gray underparts, and a bill that varies in color from yellow to pink. The juveniles are more of a brown and tan color. The black and white pattern on its crown makes this bird stand out among others and can make it difficult to blend into its surroundings.
The white-crowned sparrow mainly breeds in open or shrubby habitats such as tundra, high alpine meadows, and forest edges. When migrating, they can often be seen in thickets, weedy fields, agricultural fields, roadsides, and backyards, where they’ll visit feeders. In either case, these birds prefer areas with patches of bare ground or grasses.
As an omnivore, the white-crowned sparrow feeds on things from seeds and grasses to caterpillars, wasps, beetles, and other insects. They’ll also consume a variety of grains and fruit if they come across them.
As you can see, there are many birds with crowns that make them stand out. Through a combination of natural and sexual selection, these birds have evolved these unique traits to both succeed at survival and breeding, a true two birds, one stone scenario (no pun intended).