There are many different types of birds worldwide, some rarer than others. In this blog post, we will look at the top 14 rarest birds in the world.
Some of these birds are so rare that they are only found in certain parts of the world, while others are endangered and close to extinction. If you want to see some of the most unique and beautiful birds in the world, then be sure to read on!
1. Golden Pheasant
The Golden Pheasant is a native bird to the forests of central China. They’re also known as the Chinese pheasant or the rainbow pheasant.
Scientific name: Chrysolophus pictus
Size: Adult males measure about 90 – 100 cm, and females are about 60 – 80 cm. They weigh about 550 g.
Appearance: They are easily recognizable by their bright reddish-orange body, long tail feathers with golden spots, and some shorter red tail feathers. Their neck and head are yellow with black stripes. They have colorful wings with yellowish-orange, brown, blue, and violet colors. Their back is greenish-blue and yellow. Their beak is yellow. Females are much less colorful, with a mottled brown body and yellow legs.
Diet: They are omnivores, eating a range of leaves, seeds, grains, berries, and invertebrates.
Distribution: This species can be found in central and southern China. It was also introduced in the United Kingdom.
Habitat: These birds prefer forests along with shrubland and mountains with sparse undergrowth.
Breeding/nesting: They build a nest in the undergrowth. A female will lay 5 – 12 eggs per clutch. Incubation takes about 22 days.
Population: About 1-2 million in the world.
2. Cebu flowerpecker
Scientific name: Dicaeum quadricolor
Size: They’re tiny birds, measuring just 12cm long. Because data is scarce on this species, it’s hard to estimate their weight accurately. Since the average weight of a flowerpecker is 0.1-2.8 oz (4-80 g), the Cebu flowerpecker will likely weigh under this.
Appearance: The Cebu Flowerpecker has a black upper part with a bright red crown, nape, throat, and upper breast. Its under part is white, and the wings are greenish blue with a grayish blue tail.
Diet: Small fruits and mistletoe plants make up most of their diet.
Distribution: Found in Cebu island in the Philippines.
Habitat: The Tabanan Forest, Babayungan forest in Dalaguete, and the Nug-as forest in Alcoy on Cebu Island are where you’ll find these creatures most.
Breeding/Nesting: They build a cup nest in the tallest remaining trees in the native rainforest of the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Each pair lays 2 – 4 eggs.
Population: Estimated to be between 80 and 105.
3. New Caledonian owlet-nightjar
Scientific name: Aegotheles savesi
Size: A medium-sized nightjar, they measure 28 cm long.
Appearance: The New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar is grey-brown and black with large pale spots on its wings and back. This bird has paler underparts, a long, slightly rounded tail, short, rounded wings, and long, stout legs.
Diet: Their diet consists of insects, which they catch in flight.
Distribution: They are found only on the island of Grande Terre in New Caledonia.
Habitat: They prefer humid forests with dense undergrowth near rivers but can also be found in savannah.
Breeding/Nesting: Not much is known about their breeding or nesting habits, as there have only been a handful of sightings of this bird in 1880 and 1915.
Population: It is estimated that there are less than 50 New Caledonian Owlet-nightjars left in the wild.
4. Imperial amazon (Dominican amazon)
Scientific name: Amazona imperialism, also known as the sisserou
Size: They’re slightly larger than other amazons, measuring 48 cm long. The average male weighs 900 g (32 oz), and the average female 650 g (23 oz), making this species larger than most in its genus.
Appearance: The Imperial amazon is a beautiful green parrot with zygodactyl feet, thick plumage, and a hooked bill that comes equipped with a muscular tongue. The bird’s build allows it to easily maneuver food in its mouth using only mandibles and tongue.
Both sexes look identical: They have dark purple chests and green upper parts, with black tips on their feathers. The difference is in the eye ring, which is brown in adults but a mix of orange and red. Young birds don’t differ much from their elders, although they tend to have more green plumage and strictly brown eyes.
Diet: Their diet consists of fruits, nuts, berries, blossoms, palm shoots, and seeds.
Distribution: Found in the Caribbean island of Dominica. The bird is not only the island’s national bird but also appears on the flag.
Habitat: They prefer mountain forests but can also be found in elfin forests.
Breeding/Nesting: They build their nests in tree cavities. A female will lay two to three eggs per clutch. Incubation takes 26–28 days.
Population: The population is estimated to be between 250 and 350 birds.
5. Blue-eyed ground dove
Scientific name: Columbina cyanopis
Size: They measure 15.5 cm long. The weight of this species of bird is currently unknown.
Appearance: The Blue-eyed Ground-Dove is a small, plump bird with blue eyes. The male has a purplish red head, neck, wing coverts, upper tail coverts, and breast.
Its lower breast, belly, flanks, shoulders, and back are brown. The ventral area and under tail coverts are white. When the wings are closed, you can see dark brown and chestnut feathers with iridescent blue spots.
The bird has rufous central tail feathers and darker outer ones. Its blue eye is surrounded by bare gray skin. The adult female looks paler, especially around its underparts, while the juvenile undecidedly sports rufous edges on many feathers along with obscure wing spots.
Diet: Their diet may consist of seeds like the others of its genus because there is no information about their feeding behavior.
Distribution: They are found in Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo, and Goiás.
Habitat: They prefer primary open savannah and grasslands.
Breeding/Nesting: Not much is known about their breeding or nesting habits.
Population: The population is estimated to be between 110 and 260 birds.
Scientific name: Strigops habroptilus
Size: They are the world’s heaviest parrot, measuring up to 64 cm long and weighing between 0.75 and 4 kg.
Appearance: The Kakapo is a unique bird with several interesting physical features. For one, it is the only flightless parrot in the world. It also has highly soft feathers, which help to insulate the bird against the cold. It is also notable for its large eyes, which allow it to see in low-light conditions.
The Kakapo is green with yellow and black above. It has a distinctive gray beak, and its legs are grey too.
Diet: It is an herbivore, and its diet consists of leaves, flowers, buds, fern fronds, bark, roots, rhizomes, bulbs, and seeds.
Distribution: Kakapo is mostly found in New Zealand.
Habitat: They used to live in mainland New Zealand. But now, they live on protected offshore islands, including Codfish Island, Little Barrier Island, and Anchor Island.
Breeding/Nesting: They breed every two to four years. Females lay between one and four eggs per clutch, and incubation takes about 28 days.
Population: A total of 210 birds was discovered in June 2020.
7. Rufous-headed Hornbill
Scientific name: Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni
Size: The Rufous-headed Hornbill is a medium-sized bird, measuring between 60 and 75 cm long.
Appearance: The bird is characterized by its dully black plumage, a basal third of its tail, its tip is black, and the rest is white. The male has a dark brown crown and hindneck, while the face and neck to the upper breast are paler brown or chestnut. Additionally, the bill and casque of the male are red to orange with dark lines across the base of the lower mandible; the pouch and facial skin are yellow, and the eye is red-brown, then yellow.
Females are smaller than males and have an all-black body. Their blue facial skin and red-brown eyes make them distinct from other species. Juveniles of both sexes resemble adult males, but their bill is smaller and paler. The eye color of juveniles is light blue, then yellow, not red-brown like adults.
The first molt for females produces all-black plumage, but it takes 3-4 years before both sexes appear fully mature.
Diet: The Rufous-headed Hornbill feeds on fruits, insects, and small vertebrates.
Distribution: The Rufous-headed Hornbill is found in the islands of Negros and Panay in the Philippines.
Habitat: The Rufous-headed Hornbill inhabits lowland rainforests with a closed canopy.
Breeding/Nesting: It builds its nest in natural or carved-out hollows in tree trunks, but as these appropriate nesting sites are scarce, nest boxes are attached to tree trunks in some reserves.
Population: The population is estimated to be between 1500-4000 birds.
8. New Zealand Rock Wren
Scientific name: Xenicus gilviventris
Size: The New Zealand Rock Wren is a small bird, measuring just 10 cm long and weighing about 16–20 g.
Appearance: The bird is small, almost lacking a tail, and prefers to move about by hopping and running on its long legs. It will only fly short distances before beating its rounded wings back to the ground. Male birds are green with yellow flanks and light undersides, while females tend towards brown plumage.
Diet: The New Zealand Rock Wren feeds on insects, spiders, and fruit.
Distribution: It is found in the Southern Alps, the Tasman Mountains of Northwest Nelson, and the Victoria Range of Westland, all in the South Island.
Habitat: The New Zealand Rock Wren is mainly found near the treeline, in areas with rockfalls, scree, and low scrub.
Breeding/Nesting: The bird builds its nest at ground level within a natural cavity. Females lay between two and three eggs, which their parents incubate.
9. Stresemann’s bristlefront
Scientific name: Merulaxis stresemanni
Size: The Stresemann’s bristlefront is a medium-sized bird, measuring just 20 cm long.
Appearance: Males have slaty-black feathers, and females are notable for their dark brown upper body contrasted with a rusty lower half. Both sexes have long tails and crested foreheads.
Diet: The Stresemann’s bristlefront feeds on insects.
Distribution: It is found in Bahia state, east Brazil.
Habitat: Stresemann’s bristlefront inhabits the undergrowth of humid, lowland forests and has also been observed in the drier forest between patches of moist woods.
Breeding/Nesting: The bird builds its nest in underground tunnels.
Population: The population is estimated at 10-15 birds.
10. South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher
Scientific name: Ceyx melanurus
Size: The South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher is a small bird measuring 12 cm long and weighing about 16.4 g.
Appearance: The bird’s orange plumage is most intense in the southern subspecies and has dark blue spotted wings if it is of the northern subspecies. It also has a red beak, legs, and a white belly.
Diet: The South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher feeds on earthworms, small lizards, and invertebrates.
Distribution: It is found in the Philippines on the islands of Mindanao, Leyte, Samar, Polillo, Luzon, Catanduanes, and Basilan.
Habitat: The South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher inhabits tropical moist lowland forests.
Breeding/Nesting: The bird builds its nest in a hole in earth banks and termitaria (termite nests).
Population: The population is estimated at 10,000-20,000 birds. It is threatened by habitat loss.
11. Antioquia Brushfinch
The Antioquia Brushfinch is another bird thought to be extinct for several years but was discovered in 2018 by a Colombian agronomist.
Since then, researchers have observed fewer than fifty species of these birds left in the wild. More research is needed to determine if these birds are critically endangered.
Scientific name: Atlapetes blancae
Appearance: The bird has grey plumage with a medium-sized tail, and its underside is paler. The head is black with a chestnut crown, and its legs and bill are black too.
Diet: The Antioquia Brushfinch feeds on fruits and seeds.
Distribution: It is found in Colombia in the Altiplano de Santa Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, Colombia.
Habitat: The Antioquia Brushfinch inhabits the native scrub and forest edge.
12. Hawaiian crow
Scientific name: Corvus hawaiiensis
Size: The Hawaiian crow was about 48–50 cm long.
Appearance: Both sexes of the Hawaiian were generally a duller black than their North American counterparts, with brown-tinged wings. The throat feathers were also stiff and grayish, with hairlike webs connecting them. Both the bill and legs of the Hawaiian were typically black in coloration.
Diet: The Hawaiian crow fed on insects and fruits. Sometimes it ate eggs and nestlings of small birds.
Distribution: It was found in the western and southeastern parts of Hawaii.
Habitat: The Hawaiian crow resided in dry and humid forests on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualālai at an altitude of 3,000 to 6,000 feet.
Population: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified them as “Extinct in the Wild” since 2002.
13. Madagascar Pochard
Scientific name: Aythya innotata
Size: The Madagascar Pochard is a medium-sized bird measuring about 42-56 cm long.
Appearance: The male has a dark brown head and neck, a grey bill, white eyes, chestnut-brown mottled flanks, blackish-brown upper parts, and a rump. The breast is white with some light brown spots. It has a white belly and under tail coverts. The wings are mostly white with black tips on the flight feathers and darker outer primary feathers, whereas the legs and feet are grey. Females have duller plumage overall and lack bright white eyes.
Diet: It consumes seeds, invertebrates, and aquatic plants.
Distribution: It is found in Lake Alaotra in Madagascar.
Habitat: The Madagascar Pochard inhabits freshwater lakes and marshes.
Breeding/Nesting: Females lay between six and nine eggs, which their parents incubate.
Population: The species was believed to be extinct in the late 1990s until they were rediscovered at Lake Matsaborimena near Bemanevika in Madagascar in 2006. A breeding program produced around 90 individuals by 2017. They were reintroduced back into the wild in December 2018.
14. Spix’s Macaw
Scientific name: Cyanopsitta spixii
Size: The Spix’s Macaw was about 56 cm long and weighed about 288-318 g.
Appearance: The Spix’s macaw was easily distinguishable by its blue-gray body, bright blue wings and tail, and ash-blue crown. Male and female adults looked quite similar, with the only difference being size (females are typically smaller). Juveniles tended to be dark blue, with pale skin around their eyes.
Diet: In the wild, they were granivores and frugivores-eating only seeds and fruit. However, when they were in captivity, their diet generally included a range of seeds, fruit, nuts, minerals, vitamins, and cactus meat/tree bark.
Distribution: It was found in Brazil.
Habitat: The Spix’s Macaw inhabited the Tabebuia caraiba gallery woodland near seasonal creeks in ‘caatinga,’ a dry scrub area.
Breeding/Nesting: They mated for life. Females lay between two and seven eggs. Incubation took 25 to 28 days.
Population: It is now extinct in the wild due to habitat loss, persecution, and illegal pet trading.