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21 Weirdest Birds in the World [Images + IDs]

Get set to meet some seriously strange birds! In this article, we’re showcasing the coolest birds that are so unique, that you just have to check them out.

The animal world is full of surprises, from not-so-pretty fish to birds that are downright peculiar. And that’s what we’re diving into today.

We’ve rounded up a bunch of birds that are super cool for different reasons – they might be weird, odd, glamorous, or just downright funny-looking. Ready to meet these feathered wonders? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of the weirdest birds!

List of 21 Weirdest Birds in the World

Marabou Stork

birds with big mouths

  • Scientific name: Leptoptilos crumenifer
  • Lifespan: 25 years in wild
  • Size: 48 inches
  • Native to: tropical Africa

This is not a stork you want to mess with; its wingspan can reach nine and a half feet. They are huge wading birds that are indigenous to Africa, notably in the region close to the Sahara.

These birds are often seen in close proximity to landfills, waiting to grab leftovers and garbage. However, they are also known to consume waste and even corpses if they can locate them.

As a result, it is never advised to consume the flesh of these birds since they pose a health risk.

These birds have enormous sword-like bills that are very strong and are not something you want to get into contact with. Many people consider the Marabou Stork, sometimes known as the Undertaker Bird because of its bad temperament, to be an abomination in Africa.

Harpy Eagle

Great Curassow

  • Scientific name: Harpia harpyja
  • Lifespan: 25-35 years
  • Size: 36-40 inches
  • Native to: Central and South America

When talking about the Philippine eagle, also known as Haring Ibon, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes it one of the most peculiar birds in the avian world. Is it the fact that it has a preference for dining on monkeys, or could it be its shaggy brown hairstyle that gives the impression it’s been out partying a bit too much?

The Philippine eagle, proudly holding the title of the national bird of the Philippines, is a striking creature with brown plumage and a cream-colored underbelly. As one of the largest eagles globally, spotting it shouldn’t be a challenge. However, harming one of these endangered species could land you in a jail cell for up to 12 years.

In its carnivorous diet, the Philippine eagle indulges in a menu that includes monkeys, squirrels, reptiles, young pigs, and even small dogs. Similar to many other eagles, this raptor is known for its monogamous relationships, laying a single egg during the breeding season and potentially producing another if the first egg meets an unfortunate fate.

Hoatzin

  • Scientific Name: Opisthocomus hoazin
  • Lifespan: Approximately 10 to 15 years
  • Size: About 58 to 70 cm (23 to 28 inches) in length
  • Origin: Found in the Amazon Basin in South America

Meet the hoatzin, a bird that seems to have stepped out of the prehistoric era, earning itself nicknames like reptile-bird, stinkbird, and skunk bird. Found in the swamps and mangroves of the Amazon basin, this peculiar pheasant-like bird is easily recognizable by its brown mohawk crest feathers, blue face, and red eyes. What adds to its uniqueness is its unpleasant odor.

Feeding exclusively on fermented plant vegetation in its foregut, the hoatzin earns its “stinkbird” moniker. While forming monogamous pairs, these birds exhibit cooperative breeding behavior, with several individuals pitching in to incubate and raise the chicks. Adding to the oddity, hoatzin chicks sport peculiar claws on their wings, enabling them to climb trees for safety.

Greater Sage-Grouse

  • Scientific Name: Centrocercus urophasianus
  • Lifespan: Typically 3 to 4 years
  • Size: Adult males are around 76 to 85 cm (30 to 33 inches) in length
  • Origin: Native to the sagebrush landscapes of North America, primarily in the western United States and southwestern Canada

Picture this: every spring, male greater sage-grouses gather at a lek, engaging in a peculiar mating ritual involving thrusting their bulging, yellow air sacs in and out while making distinctive gurgling and popping sounds. This unusual courtship behavior lands the greater sage-grouse a well-deserved spot on the list of the weirdest birds.

Residing in the sage grass areas of the western United States and southwestern Canada, the greater sage-grouse boasts a distinctive appearance with its round, chubby body, long tail, and small head. Its diet consists of grass, plant leaves, and succulents. After mating, the female takes on the responsibility of raising six to eight chicks independently, adding another layer of uniqueness to this peculiar bird’s life cycle.

Kakapo

  • Scientific name: Strigops habroptilus
  • Lifespan: 40 – 80 years
  • Size: 23 to 25 in
  • Native to:  New Zealand
  • Beaks typically measure 1-2 inches (2.5–5 cm) long.

The kakapo is not your average parrot; in fact, it’s one of the weirdest birds globally. Beyond its unique appearance and behaviors, this New Zealand native stands out in the avian world. Notably, it’s larger and heavier than most parrots, earning the title of one of the world’s heaviest birds. Unlike its parrot counterparts, the kakapo is flightless and active during the night.

Dressed in a yellowish, mossy-green plumage adorned with brown and gray speckles, the kakapo is sometimes referred to as the “owl parrot” due to its feathery facial disc resembling an owl. Adding to its peculiarity, the kakapo engages in mating only about three times per decade, aligning its reproductive habits with the cone cycle of the rimu tree.

Frigate bird

  • Scientific name: Fregatidae
  • Lifespan: 25-34 years
  • Size: 36 inches
  • Native to: tropical Atlantic

Meet the magnificent frigatebird, a striking black seabird residing along the coastlines of the Americas and the Caribbean. Its unforgettable appearance includes a vibrant red throat pouch that inflates like a balloon during the mating season. What sets this seabird apart is its exceptional ratio of wing area to body weight, enabling it to soar continuously for extended periods.

Despite its aerial prowess, magnificent frigatebirds struggle with swimming and taking off easily. To overcome this, they fly over ocean waters and use their long, hooked bills to snatch fish and squid near the surface. Their feeding habits also include stealing eggs from other birds and robbing regurgitated food by latching onto their counterparts’ tails.

Interestingly, magnificent frigatebirds exhibit a unique mating pattern, engaging in the process every other year. This monogamous species devotes significant time to caring for their young, making them distinct in their parental behaviors.

Long-Wattled Umbrellabird

  • Scientific Name: Cephalopterus penduliger
  • Lifespan: Information on lifespan is limited, but likely similar to related species (around 15 years)
  • Size: Males can be around 35 cm (14 inches) in length, with an additional wattle that can extend up to 35 cm
  • Origin: Found in the rainforests of Central and South America, including Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela

Known as the umbrellabird for the large crest hanging over its beak, the long-wattled umbrellabird is a peculiar black bird that stands out in the forests of Colombia and Ecuador. Its most striking feature is the long, feathered wattle extending from its chest, reaching up to 17 inches (45 cm) but retractable during flight.

Feeding on nuts, insects, and lizards in wet lowland forests, this bird employs a unique mating strategy. Male long-wattled umbrellabirds perform a captivating dance in a lek, where females observe and choose their preferred partner. After mating, each female takes on the role of a single mother, raising one chick in her nest.

Spoonbill Roseate (Birds with Long Necks)

Birds with Long Legs

  • Scientific name: Platalea ajaja
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 24 inches
  • Native to: southern Florida, coastal Texas, and southwestern Louisiana
  • Beaks typically measure 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length.

Roseate Spoonbill is a striking wading bird with a unique appearance. It has a long neck, a white body, and a spoon-shaped bill that is bright pink in color. This spoon-shaped bill is used to sweep through shallow water, catching small fish, crustaceans, and insects. The Roseate Spoonbill gets its pink coloration from the pigments present in the prey it consumes. These birds are known for their graceful flight and can be found in wetlands, marshes, and coastal areas of the Americas. The Roseate Spoonbill is a social bird and is often seen nesting and foraging in colonies.

Condor

  • Scientific name: Genus Vultur (includes Andean Condor and California Condor)
  • Lifespan: Typically 50-70 years
  • Size: Large vulture; varies by species, with the Andean Condor having a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet (3.2 meters)
  • Origin: Native to the Americas

Once declared extinct in the wild in 1987, the California condor has made a comeback through a captive breeding program in the southwestern United States. Sporting the largest wingspan among North American bird species, the California condor’s appearance may not be conventionally beautiful, featuring a naked, reddish-pink head, red eyes, and black plumage with a distinctive feather boa-like collar.

A scavenger akin to vultures, the condor feeds on the carcasses of large animals, often nesting in high trees and rock cliffs. Remarkably, it has no sense of smell but locates food by observing the presence of vultures and eagles. Living up to 60 years, flying at speeds of 56 mph (90 km/h), and covering distances of up to 160 miles (250 km) at a time, the California condor is an intriguing and resilient species.

King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise

  • Scientific Name: Pteridophora alberti
  • Lifespan: Estimated to be around 5 to 8 years
  • Size: Males are approximately 32 to 42 cm (13 to 17 inches) in length, excluding the ornamental head plumes
  • Origin: Endemic to the mountain forests of Papua New Guinea

Hailing from New Guinea, the male King of Saxony bird-of-paradise stands out with its vibrant black and yellow plumage and a distinctive blue-green gape. What makes this bird particularly weird is the presence of extremely long plumes protruding from its head, giving it an otherworldly appearance.

With plumes reaching nearly 20 inches (50 cm) in length, the male deploys them in an elaborate courtship display, moving them in different directions and wrapping them around a potential mate. The bird’s alien-sounding call, reminiscent of radio-static screech, adds to its eccentricity. The female, in contrast, lacks the ornamental plumes and raises her offspring without the male’s involvement after mating.

Rhinoceros Hornbill

  • Scientific name: Buceros rhinoceros
  • Lifespan: up to 35 years.
  • Size: 35 inches
  • Native to:  Borneo, Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, and southern Thailand

Residing in the mountain rainforests of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra, the rhinoceros hornbill is a peculiar bird with distinctive characteristics. The black bird features a large bill and a curled, reddish-orange horn above it, enhancing the bird’s call.

What sets the rhinoceros hornbill apart is its peculiar breeding habits. After the female lays her eggs in a tree trunk, the male seals her inside by packing the entryway with mud, manure, and food. Creating a small opening for feeding and waste elimination, the male cares for the female until the chicks hatch. When ready to leave the nest, both parents work together to break open the sealed entryway.

Wood ibis

  • Scientific name: Threskiornithinae
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Size: 40 inches
  • Native to: Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, Africa

The Wood ibis is a long-beaked bird with an approximate 70 cm total length. Additionally, it has a tiny crest on its head and black feathers.

The wood ibis is also known as the Paddy Bird. This bird’s name is derived from an Irish proverb that means “clumsy guy” in the area.

These birds perform complex courting displays during mating season, including circling each other, bowing and raising their crests, stretching their necks, and calling loudly before landing close to each other to groom each other’s head and neck regions.

Since they spend much of their time in wetlands or along rivers, wood ibises have easy access to a lot of fish. They rip apart enormous fish that birds can consume with their strong, powerful beaks. Additionally, these birds have eyes that face forward, which makes it easier for them to hunt for food while traveling through the water.

Long-beaked birds have long, thin beaks that are ideal for capturing fish and drinking fresh water. They can catch tiny prey like frogs, snails, and insects with the help of their long beaks.

Frogmouth

birds with big mouths

  • Scientific name: Podargidae
  • Lifespan: up to 14 years
  • Size: 10 to 22 inches
  • Native to: native to Australia

Encountering the tawny frogmouth while picnicking in an Australian wooded park or hiking through a forest is an experience in mastering the art of camouflage. This nocturnal bird, adorned with mottled gray, black, and white feathers, seamlessly blends into the tree bark, making it nearly invisible. Resembling an owl with its stocky head, big yellow eyes, and nocturnal habits, the tawny frogmouth lacks talons and instead sports small, weak feet.

Notably, the bird’s Greek genus name, reflecting its gout-like walking, adds a quirky touch. With a wide mouth resembling that of a frog and surrounded by whiskers aiding in catching flying insects, the tawny frogmouth mates for life, producing two to three eggs each breeding season. Their family bonds are evident as they perch side by side on the same tree branch, showcasing their unique “resting stank face.”

Great Curassow 

  • Scientific name: Crax rubra
  • Lifespan: 24 years
  • Size: 31–39 in
  • Native to: Eastern Mexico, through Central America to western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador

Venturing through the rainforests from Mexico to Ecuador might lead you to the peculiar great curassow, a bird with distinctive features and a territorial nature. The male, predominantly black with a yellow knob on its bill, and the multicolored female, adorned with a speckled head and reddish-brown body, stand out. What truly captures attention is the funky crest resembling a permed curly hair-do on both genders.

Typically found foraging in groups for fallen fruit, insects, and leaves, great curassows exhibit monogamous behavior. They employ distraction techniques, including feigning injury, to protect their chicks from predators.

Great Potoo 

  • Scientific Name: Nyctibius grandis
  • Lifespan: Information on the specific lifespan of the Great Potoo is not widely documented, but it is estimated to be around 5-10 years in the wild for most Potoo species.
  • Size: Approximately 48-61 cm in length.
  • Native to: Distributed in Central and South America, including countries like Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil.

The great potoo, with its bulging yellow eyes and eerie, mournful growl, inhabits the woodlands and forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Though its appearance and nocturnal habits may seem spooky, the great potoo prefers a quiet existence, feeding on insects and small bats from its high perches.

Resembling an owl, this bird’s bulging eyes give it an alert look. During daylight hours, the great potoo roosts, skillfully camouflaged by its mottled gray feathers. Mating for life, both males and females contribute to chick care, concealing them under their wings.

Inca Tern 

  • Scientific Name: Larosterna inca
  • Lifespan: Typically 15 to 20 years
  • Size: About 40 cm (16 inches) in length
  • Origin: Native to the west coast of South America, including Peru and Chile

Along South America’s Pacific Coast, from Peru to Chile, the Inca tern stands out not only for its mostly dark gray plumage but also for its distinctive feature – a white mustache sported by both males and females. This seabird, reminiscent of its historic Inca Empire territory, forms colonies along the Humboldt Current, where it dives for anchovies and pilfers from sea lions and dolphins.

Monogamous and breeding twice a year, Inca terns showcase elaborate flight displays during courtship, with both partners chasing each other while holding a fish as a love offering. The charming mustache adds a touch of uniqueness to this bird along the South American coast.

Kiwi Bird

Medium Brown Birds With Long Beaks

  • Scientific name: Apteryx
  • Lifespan: between 25 and 50 years
  • Size: 14 to 18 inches
  • Native to: New Zealand
  • Beak length on average is 6 inches (15 cm)

Despite sharing a name with the fuzzy brown fruit, kiwi birds are far from resembling the green delicacy found in supermarkets. These monogamous birds boast relationships lasting over two decades. Female kiwis exhibit one of the most significant bird-to-egg size ratios, with eggs weighing around 16 ounces (453 g). This substantial size results in chicks being born covered in feathers, more prepared for life than their counterparts.

Known for their longevity, kiwis can live up to 50 years, with chicks taking up to 5 years to reach adult size. What sets them apart is the unique placement of their nostrils at the end of their beaks instead of the top. This adaptation allows them to sniff out prey effectively, showcasing their distinctive foraging behavior.

Oilbirds a.k.a Guacharo: 

  • Scientific Name: Steatornis caripensis
  • Lifespan: Estimated to be around 20 to 30 years
  • Size: Approximately 40 cm (16 inches) in length
  • Origin: Found in the northern regions of South America, including Venezuela, Colombia, and Trinidad; typically inhabits caves in dense forests

Resembling bats in many ways, oilbirds are nocturnal creatures that utilize echolocation and roost in high cave colonies. What truly sets them apart is their ingenious nest-building technique – constructing nests from a mixture of their own fruit vomit and excrement. With the highest ratio of rods responsible for night vision in their retinas, oilbirds possess exceptional night vision.

Boasting one million rods per square meter of their retinas, compared to humans with only 150,000 rods per square millimeter, oilbirds navigate their surroundings with precision. Echolocation, a technique rare in birds, enables them to create a mental image of their surroundings by emitting clicks that bounce off nearby objects.

The name “oilbirds” originates from their favored food source: the fatty fruit of the oil palm. Historically, chicks were collected and boiled down for their fat, serving as fuel. This intriguing bird species adds to the fantastically strange diversity of the avian world, showcasing nature’s innovative adaptations.

Jabiru Birds with Long Necks

  • Scientific name: Jabiru mycteria
  • Lifespan: 30 years
  • Size: 5 feet
  • Native to: Mexico to Argentina, except west of the Andes.
  • Beak length on average is 5-7 inches (12.7-17.8 cm).

Jabiru is a large stork species known for its distinctive appearance and long neck. It is found in parts of Central and South America. With its black and white plumage, a large black beak, and a distinctive red throat pouch, the Jabiru is an impressive bird. It has a long neck that allows it to reach deep into the water or vegetation to catch fish, frogs, reptiles, and even small mammals. Jabirus are often seen in wetlands, swamps, and floodplains, where they build large stick nests on tall trees. These majestic birds are known for their graceful flight and their role as apex predators in their ecosystems.

Cassowary

  • Scientific name: Genus Casuarius (includes several species)
  • Lifespan: Typically 40-50 years
  • Size: Large flightless bird; varies by species, with the Southern Cassowary being the largest, reaching up to 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) in height
  • Origin: Native to the tropical forests of New Guinea and northern Australia

The cassowary, scientifically known as Casuarius, holds the reputation of being the world’s most dangerous bird. This large terrestrial bird is native to Australia and Oceania, measuring up to 5.8 feet in length and weighing up to 130 pounds. With its strength concentrated in its powerful legs, the cassowary’s size is formidable.

While there are no official studies on the force of a cassowary’s kick, it’s known that cassowaries, along with ostriches, are the only birds that have been documented to cause fatalities to humans. A recent incident involved a 75-year-old man in Florida who was attacked and killed by his pet cassowary. Despite their herbivorous diet, these birds can be aggressive, posing a threat to pets and livestock.

As we wrap up this exploration of the weirdest birds, we invite you to share your thoughts. Are you familiar with these fascinating creatures? Does their uniqueness surprise, impress, or even revolt you? Perhaps you have your own additions to this list? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts – we love hearing from you!

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends. Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all. Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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