In this amazing birds list, you’ll meet some of the most incredible members of the bird world.
From birds that travel tens of thousands of miles in a single year, to birds that build huge nests; this list contains the most noteworthy members of the order Aves.
- Main birds page: Birds: The Ultimate Guide
Amazing Birds List
Albatrosses – Ocean Wanderers
We start this list of amazing birds with the albatrosses. Albatrosses are several species of large seabirds found mainly in the Southern Hemisphere. Their long, thin wings allow them to cover immense distances over the ocean while expending very little energy.
The wingspan of the wandering albatross can reach an incredible 3.7 m (12 ft. 2 in): the longest wingspan of any bird. Individuals have been known to fly around the entire Southern portion of the world three times in a year.
Arctic Tern – Incredible Migration
The Arctic tern is another well-traveled seabird. This amazing bird migrates further than any other animal. Its incredible yearly journey takes it all the way from its Arctic breeding grounds to Antarctica … and back again. Some Arctic terns travel 90,000 km (56,000 mi) in a year!
Arctic terns see two summers every year: one in the Arctic and another in the Antarctic. They also experience more daylight than any other animal.
Birds Of Paradise – Amazing Plumage
Birds of paradise are a family of birds found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and eastern Australia. Male birds of paradise are famous for their stunning plumage.
Specimens of birds of paradise found by early explorers had often had their legs and wings removed. This led to the belief that the birds never landed and were carried in the air by their feathers. The local belief that birds of paradise came from heaven added to the mystery surrounding the birds.
Bowerbirds – Build To Impress
Bowerbirds are among the bird world’s greatest builders. However, they don’t use their expertise to build nests; instead, male bowerbirds build incredible structures – known as bowers – in order to impress females.
Bowers are built from grass and sticks, and are often decorated with brightly-colored objects such as shells, feathers and berries. Even man-made objects can find their way into a bower.
Cassowaries – Among The World’s Largest Birds
Cassowaries are large birds found in New Guinea and Australia. The three species are the southern, dwarf and northern cassowary. The largest, the southern cassowary, is the world’s second-largest bird (we’ll meet the largest bird further down the page). It is the only cassowary found in Australia.
- You can find out more about cassowaries here: Cassowary Facts
Common Poorwill – The Only Bird That Hibernates
The common poorwill is a nocturnal bird found in North America. What makes it amazing is that it is the only bird to enter an extended state of torpor similar to hibernation.
During the winter months, the common poorwill will hide itself away in a pile of rocks and become inactive for weeks or months. While in this state of torpor, the bird’s metabolism and body temperature are both reduced.
Condors – Large Soaring Birds of the Americas
Condors are large, majestic birds found in the New World. Using their huge wings, they soar over their mountainous habitats in search of carrion.
Despite being members of the family Cathartidae (the New World vultures) condors have somehow managed to avoid the negative image associated with their cousins.
There are two species of condor: the Andean condor and the California condor. The Andean condor is one of the world’s largest flying birds, and has a wingspan reaching 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in).
Cranes – Long-Legged High-Flyers
Cranes are large, long-legged birds. They are found on every continent except South America and Antarctica. The fifteen species of crane hold a number of record breakers. The sandhill crane is the world’s longest surviving bird species, having been around for at least nine million years. A Siberian crane reached the age of 83 – the oldest-known age of any bird.
The sarus crane is the tallest flying bird, and the Eurasian crane is one of the highest-flying birds, having been recorded at altitudes of up to 33,000 ft. (10,000 m).
Crows – Brainy Birds, Not Birdbrains
The genus Corvus, otherwise known as crows, includes crows, rooks, ravens and jackdaws.
Crows are among the world’s most intelligent animals. Feats demonstrated by various species of crow include: tool use, tool construction, food caching, using bread crumbs as fishing bait, and being able to distinguish individual humans.
Cuckoos – Survival By Deception
Most species in the cuckoo family Cuculidae raise their own young. However, the family’s reputation is tarnished by the 50 or 60 species that rely on a breeding strategy known as brood parasitism.
Brood parasitism involves the female cuckoo secretly laying her egg in the nest of another species. The cuckoo chick hatches sooner and grows faster than the chicks of the unwitting host bird. The young cuckoo will often push the other eggs or chicks out of the nest, thereby ensuring that it receives the lion’s share of any food its foster parents may bring.
Eagles – Majestic Hunters of the Skies
Eagles are some of the largest, most powerful birds of prey; only vultures are larger. Eagles are the ‘big cats’ of the air – supreme hunters who are not only strong and fast, but who are also equipped with acute senses and deadly weapons in the shape of a strong hooked bill and powerful talons.
Three species vie for the title of ‘world’s largest eagle’: Steller’s sea eagle is the heaviest; the Philippine eagle is the longest and has the largest wingspan; the harpy eagle is a similar weight and length but being a forest bird has a smaller wingspan.
- You can find out more about the bald eagle here: Bald Eagle Facts
Emperor Penguin – The World’s Most Dedicated Fathers
All penguins deserve to be included in a list of amazing birds: although flightless and ungainly on land, in the water they are fast and graceful.
The emperor penguin is an amazing animal in a number of ways. It the largest penguin, and the only one that breeds in the Antarctic winter. The emperor penguin’s single egg is incubated by the male, who keeps it warm on his feet while being battered by fierce Antarctic storms.
- You can find out more about the emperor penguin here: Emperor Penguin Facts
Hoatzin – Clawed Relic of The Past
The hoatzin is the last in a line of birds that branched off on its own 64 million years ago. A hoatzin chick has two primitive claws on each of its wings. These claws enable the young bird to climb up trees, and are lost when the bird is able to fly.
Homing Pigeons – Natural Navigators
Although pigeons are often seen as pests, they are capable of some amazing feats. Homing pigeons can find their way home after being released over 1,000 miles away. They accomplish this feat having no prior knowledge of the area. Scientists still don’t fully understand how homing pigeons navigate, but the birds have been found to use magnetism, the position of the sun, and smell to reach their destination.
House Sparrow – They’re Everywhere!
The house sparrow is a familiar bird in many parts of the world, and one of the most common of all wild birds.
An adaptable species, the house sparrow is able to live alongside humans, and has been introduced to many parts of the world by humans. It is the most widely distributed of all wild birds.
Hummingbirds – High Energy Hoverers
Hummingbirds are a family of birds quite unlike any other. Physically they are very small – the world’s smallest bird is the tiny bee hummingbird. Hummingbirds have uniquely-structured wings that allow them to hover, as well as move forwards, backwards and sideways. No other bird is this maneuverable.
This form of flight requires a high level of energy, which hummingbirds obtain from nectar – a sugary substance produced by plants. Hummingbirds burn through a lot of energy, and have the highest metabolisms of all animals. Hummingbirds also have the world’s largest flight muscles in proportion to body size of any bird.
Ostrich – Big, Fast and Flightless
The ostrich is an amazing bird in many ways. This huge flightless bird is the world’s largest bird, the world’s fastest bird on land, and it lays the biggest eggs of any bird.
- Discover more about this amazing bird here: Ostrich Facts
Parrots – Intelligent Talking Birds
Parrots are tropical and subtropical birds known for their brightly-colored plumage and ability to mimic sounds, including human words.
It’s not just the parrots’ colorful feathers that make them amazing; parrots are also some of the world’s most intelligent birds. Studies have shown that not only do they mimic the sound of human words, but that they also understand the meaning of the words. Some parrots are able to use tools and to solve puzzles.
- One of the most intelligent parrots is the endangered African Grey Parrot. You can find out more about this species here: African Grey Parrot Facts
Peacock – Natural Show-Offs
Male peacocks are famous for their brightly-colored, iridescent tail feathers. When raised, they create one of nature’s most impressive visual displays. Of course, like everything in nature there’s a reason behind this spectacle; the male peacock hopes that his amazing feathers will help him to attract females by demonstrating how healthy he is.
Peregrine Falcon – Dives at Dangerous Speeds
The peregrine falcon isn’t just the fastest bird in the world, it’s also the fastest species in the entire animal kingdom. When diving, it can reach speeds of over 200 mph (320 km/h).
Once a bird of coastal cliffs and rocky mountainsides, the peregrine has recently begun to inhabit towns and cities. Here, feral pigeons provide it with a plentiful food supply.
Resplendent Quetzal – Amazing Plumage
The resplendent quetzal is found in the mountainous cloud forests of Central America. It is famous for the brightly-colored feathers and extra-long tail of the male bird. Bird watchers from all over the world flock to Central America hoping to catch a glimpse of the resplendent quetzal’s amazing plumage.
Superb Lyrebird – One Of the World’s Best Natural Mimics
If you’re walking in an Australian forest and you hear a car alarm, don’t worry; you haven’t necessarily stumbled across a crime scene. The source of the sound may well be a superb lyrebird – one of nature’s very best impressionists. This amazing bird can accurately mimic a huge range of sounds, both natural and man-made.
Sociable Weaver – Builder of the Biggest Nests
The sociable weaver is a small, brown, sparrow-like bird that lives in Africa. Although the bird itself isn’t much to look at, it is responsible for building the biggest nest of any bird.
As its name suggests, the sociable weaver works cooperatively. The whole colony pitches in to build or maintain the nest, which is home to as many as 400 birds!
Amazing Birds List: Conclusion & Related Articles
Nearly all birds are capable of flying – a feat that, if you think about it, is amazing in itself! However, because we see birds every day it’s easy to overlook both this and our ‘feathered friend’s’ other incredible talents.
The birds on this page demonstrate the sheer variety of species in the order Aves. Whether it’s long-distance flying, talking, or solving puzzles, birds are amazing!
Are there any amazing birds we’ve missed? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
- Find out about the world’s leading bird conservation organisation: BirdLife
- You can find out more about the incredible world of birds on our main birds page.