Weirdest birds in the world

Posted on Mar 28, 2013 in Looks

Our feathered friends come in all shapes and sizes, from the ordinary to the exotic.  If you’ve ever looked out the window and wondered what exactly is out there, you’ll be surprised to find out just how peculiar the winged species can be.

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Bobby Dazzler – Blue Footed Booby

These rather comical-looking birds are aptly named after their unavoidably bright blue webbed feet. In the mating scene of the blue footed booby, cobalt coloured feet are particularly alluring for the opposite sex and play a part in winning over the female. It seems that the bluer the shoes, the more attractive the partner and males take great pride in their vibrant feet. As part of their mating ritual, male boobies perform a high-stepping strut to show off their fabulous feet.

Lives: Pacific Ocean

Status: Least Concern

 

Hoazin

 The Lazy Stinker – Hoatzin

It’s not the hoatzin’s fault he’s been dubbed as the ‘stink bird’; he likes to blame his exclusively herbivorous diet for the unpleasant aroma omitted from his plumes. Unlike most other birds known to snack on insects, the hoatzin is far removed from its feathered relatives and dines more like plant-eating cattle. This turkey lookalike has a highly specialised digestive system which helps it to break down and process large amounts of vegetation. There are drawbacks to being strictly vegetarian however, as this is what causes the poor bird to smell like fresh cow manure and feel sluggish too.

Lives:  South America
Status: Least Concern

 

Kiwi

Image credit: Snowmanradio

Mammal in Disguise – Kiwi

When it comes to birds, we often think of floating, feathery creatures rather than furry, flightless ones but that’s not the case for the kiwi. This earthbound fowl faces quite the identity crisis in becoming more like a mammal. Not only is it completely flightless, it even has barely-there wings, a missing tail, lengthy whiskers and a fuzzy coat of feathers similar to animal hair. Its only redeeming feature is its impressive probing beak, yet this still remains unusual with external nostrils for a good sense of smell – another unlikely feature for our feathered friends.

Lives: New Zealand
Status: Threatened

 

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Image credit: Doug Janson

The Knucklehead – Helmeted Hornbill

This truly peculiar bird resembles something out of a Jurassic Park movie with its long wrinkly naked throat. Whilst this already stands out as a freaky feature it is their mighty beak that has earned its namesake. The helmeted hornbill sports an enormous beak that weighs up to 10% of its body weight which the males will use to perform flying head butts at speeds of up to 40mph. This show of superiority is used to impress the fairer sex – in their world it pays to be a hard head!

Lives: South East Asia
Status: Near Threatened

 

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Image credit: Dan Pancamo

Bubble-gum Bird – Roseate Spoonbill

The roseate spoonbill resembles an awkward union between a flamingo and a duck billed platypus with it sporting vibrant pink and white plumage, a bald head and an unusual spoon-shaped bill. Its rosy hue comes from the tiny crustaceans it feeds on that it finds by sweeping its open bill from side to side in shallow water ready to snap up any tasty treats.

Lives: North America, South America, Caribbean
Status: Least Concern

 

Milford Hwy_Kea

photo: ed 37 ~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Circus Performer – Kea

Putting on a show is the greatest quality of the playful kea parrot but its performances aren’t always met with great acclaim. Although it’s known for its clever and curious personality, its distinguishing traits can also land the bird in deep trouble with irritated humans. As a result of their inquisitive nature, they have been known to tamper with the property of tourists and backpackers causing destruction in their path. The Kea’s number one trick however, is its ability to flourish (and annoy!) and the only alpine parrot in the world.

Lives: New Zealand
Status: Vulnerable

 

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Mexican Monarch – Resplendent Quetzal

The adoration of the quetzal dates back to the ancient time of the Maya and Aztec people who bestowed it with the grand title of ‘resplendent’ as it was so sacred to their society. Often proclaimed as the most beautiful bird to exist, it proudly shows off its vibrant plumage of brilliant colours from its magnificent emerald back to its rich crimson belly. It’s no wonder that since having its iridescent feathers featured in royal Aztec headdresses, it still remains the national bird of Guatemala today.

Lives: South America
Status: Near Threatened

 

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Image credit: Luc Viatour

Fancy Feathers – Hoopoe

Giving the impression of an exotic safari dweller, the hoopoe can actually be found migrating across Europe and is sometimes spotted on the Southern coast of England. This zebra-lookalike with its striking black and white wings enjoys showing off its unusual plumage and wouldn’t look out of place across the plains of Africa. Its eccentric monochrome feathers stand out against its fairly ordinary frame and with them it flutters around like a bizarre moth.

Lives: Everywhere
Status: Least Concern

 

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Image credite: Tom Tarrant

Well-Heeled – The Shoebill

The shoebill is quite the mysterious resident of Africa as its secretive disposition means it hides away from view and much prefers to live alone. Unfortunately for this imposing bird, its enormous bill shaped unmistakably like a shoe gives it away at a remarkable 23cm long and 10cm broad. Instantly recognisable by its prehistoric looks and huge stature, the shoebill can be found wading amongst marshes harpooning for fish using the sharp hook on the end of its colossal beak.

Lives: East Africa
Status: Vulnerable

 

Sword-billed hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)

photo: Ben Tavener

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knight in Tiny Armour – Sword-billed Hummingbird

For such a teeny bird, this species of hummingbird has an astonishingly large weapon right under its nose. Its elongated sword-like bill puts it at the top of the rankings for being the only bird to have a bill longer than its own body. A length of around 3-4 inches may not seem like much but the sword-billed hummingbird’s spear can be even longer than the entire body of some other hummingbirds. Unless you’re a flower though, there’s no need to be afraid of this lengthy Lancelot as its adaptation is made to feed on flowers with long corollas, reaching every bit of sumptuous sap.

Lives: South America
Status: Least Concern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Bass Bird – Kakapo

This cute, chubby animal takes the prize for being the worst evolved creature in the modern world. The kakapo lives on handful of tiny islands that, until recent times, were untouched by the influence of mammals and man and as such evolved without ability to fly or indeed escape any predator. It feeds on the forest floor, waddling around in search of nuts, berries and fruits. Food is so important to this podgy parrot that it will only breed in years when the rimu fruit abounds but when they do a male’s mating ‘boom’ can be heard up to 5km away!

Lives: New Zealand
Status: Critically Endangered

 

 

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