Can You Identify This Bird From an Extreme Closeup of Its Feathers?


By: Jonnathan Chadwick

7 Min Quiz

Image: L.Miguel Bugallo Sánchez via WikiCommons

About This Quiz

A bird's feathers serve many purposes, from insulation to camouflage to flight, but for a lot of people, they're just cool to look at. Iridescent and metallic tones reserved for the most venomous animals on land are peacefully flaunted in the sky. The canopies of tropical jungles from Peru to New Zealand are home to some of the most gorgeous animals on Earth. Some of them are rarely ever seen, but when they are, they are unmistakable.

Feathers can be as slick as suede or as soft as cotton. Feathers can form long tails or poofy crests. No two patterns are the same, and they form some of the most amazing colors, spots and stripes in the animal kingdom. Even the birds you see every day, like hummingbirds, pigeons, sparrows and doves, have some of the most distinctive physical characteristics on the planet. If you're quick enough to spot a hummingbird, you might notice that its feathers look like scales. Have you ever noticed the bird in your backyard that is striped like a tiger? And can you tell the difference between a macaw, a cockatoo and a parakeet? 

How well do you know your birds? Can you name these birds, based on a closeup of their feathers?

This is the most successful and unsuccessful bird in the world. What is it?

No bird on Earth has reproduced more than chickens — there are more than 50 billion of them on the planet, making them the world's most successful bird. However, no bird on Earth is slaughtered more often than chickens, also making them the world's most unsuccessful bird.


Can you name this bird, covered in iridescent earth tones and recognized as one of the smartest birds in the world?

The kea is a parrot native to New Zealand, and it's covered in a striking layer of earth tones, ranging from green and brown to orange and red. It's commonly recognized as one of the smartest birds in the world, capable of collaborative problem solving and doing puzzles.


What is this bird, known for its apparent stab wound?

One look at this bird, and you know how it got its name. It isn't a stab wound, but the pattern is incredibly realistic, which might help fend off would-be attackers. The bird mostly stays grounded and is found on the Philippine island of Luzon.


This is the type of pigeon you would use to send a message to someone. What is it?

Pigeons are everywhere, and the rock pigeon is actually the first bird domesticated by humans. Pigeons are known for one-way delivery of messages because they can and will always fly home from wherever they are. They've been recorded reaching speeds up to 100 miles per hour.


This is one of the most extravagant pigeons you'll ever see. What is it?

These mystical pigeons are covered in a layer of metallic green, red and blue feathers. They're native to India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and they are also known as hackled pigeons. They are thought to be related to the dodo bird.


Do you know this bird that has some of the densest feathers on the planet?

Penguins can't fly, and their feathers don't look the same as most birds' feathers. They're used for insulation in polar waters. The feathers can number up to nine per square centimeter, which is dense, but not the densest.


What common bird sports these metallic looking feathers?

Hummingbird feathers aren't made of metal, but they are iridescent and can change color under the sun in a split second. These birds live on sugar, but studies have found that hummingbirds that eat a lot of protein (insects) grow more colorful feathers.


Can you name this lanky bird with pink plumage?

"Flamingo" in Portuguese or Spanish translates to "flame colored," and these fiery birds prefer the coasts of South America, Africa and West Asia. They're known for their dance moves, pairing up to mate after completing an elaborate dancing ritual.


What's this bird, known for supposedly delivering babies?

There are about two dozen species of these long-necked birds that are related to ibis and other long-necked birds. Their feathers are usually black or white or a combination of both, but some storks have a rose-tinted coat of white feathers.


These royal feathers belong to one of the largest raptors in North America. Do you know it?

The golden eagle can grow three feet long, with a seven-foot wingspan, making it one of the world's largest raptors. It's mostly found in western North America and parts of Eurasia. It's frequently seen with light gold or pale brown feathers.


Do you know this tropical copycat bird?

The Amazon parrot is one of the most famous parrots in the world, of which there are hundreds of species, including macaws and parakeets. The Amazon parrot is native to the tropical rainforests of South America. It commonly features a solid coat of bright green, with patches of red, blue and yellow.


Can you name this aerial driller, known for its red Mohawk?

Some woodpeckers are solid black, and some feature striking patterns and camouflage tricks. Almost all of them feature a colorful crest on their head that resembles a Mohawk. These birds are known for drilling holes into trees to find insects and sound off territorial calls.


You can't mistake this ice blue plumage. What bird is this?

Blue jays are found all over America's East Coast and central states. They will sometimes steal eggs from other birds' nests for food. Toronto's MLB team is named after the bird, but Canada doesn't officially recognize a national bird.


Do you know the fiery orange and black state bird of Maryland?

Maryland is known for both orioles and ravens, but the oriole gets the recognition of being the state bird. Orioles are known for their black and orange feathers, said to resemble the colors featured on Lord Baltimore's coat of arms back when he first settled the land.


Can you name this bird that looks like a mini penguin?

The puffin looks like it's related to the penguin, but it isn't — and they live in opposite hemispheres. Puffins can fly up to 55 miles per hour. The birds thrive on the open sea, nesting on rocky islands, and they all feature black, gray and white feathers.


What's the name of this bird that's known for showing off?

Peahens are female, and peacocks are male, and both sexes combined are called peafowl. Peacocks are known for their feather trains, full of metallic hues of green and blue. Their trains can grow up to seven feet long, and, despite their size, peacocks can fly for short distances.


Do you know this heavenly bird with mystical plumage?

The bird-of-paradise is closely related to the crow, but it lives in tropical rainforests. It's known for its complex courtship ritual — fluttering an iridescent sheet of metallic teal feathers to lure mates.


Can you name this famous South American bird that sports impressive multicolored feathers?

There are close to two dozen species of macaw in the world, and they are among the most well-known and colorful parrots on Earth. The blue-and-yellow macaw is commonly seen in pop culture, and the scarlet macaw is known for its rainbow plumage.


Do you know this quacking bird with a pattern of matte and iridescent feathers?

These Far East Asian birds have slowly migrated all over the world, including one that was famously spotted in New York City in 2018. There are nearly 200 known duck species, but Mandarin ducks are some of the most arresting on Earth. They symbolize good luck.


What's the name of this parrot, known for its flashy crest?

Cockatoos aren't the most colorful birds in the rainforest, but they're some of the most eye-catching, due to their large head crests. The birds flaunt their feathers when they stop flying or get aroused.


This bird has a huge beak that is more colorful than its feathers. What is it?

There are about three dozen species of these tropical birds. The toucan is mostly known for its oversized beak, often about one-third of the bird's body length. Its feathers are usually black, white, dark purple, dark red or yellow.


Do you know these brightly colored tiny birds that live almost everywhere on the planet?

Kingfishers have dagger beaks and brightly colored feathers, but only their orange feathers are colored due to pigmentation. The seemingly blue feathers actually scatter light to create the impression that they are blue.


Can you name this tiny bird, famous for its yellow stripe?

The American goldfinch is mostly yellow with black feathers, but the European goldfinch, the one from the Fabritius painting, is pale brown with a distinct yellow stripe and red face. It also has black and white feathers.


Do you know this flying sage, known as the Phantom of the North?

The great grey owl is the only one of its genus to live in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. True to its other name, the Phantom of the North, it does not live in the Southern Hemisphere. The farthest south it will venture is about Wyoming.


Can you name the national bird of Peru, known for its bright orange poof of feathers?

The national bird of Peru displays a fiery orange coat of feathers, but it is rarely seen in the sky. It lives a defensive lifestyle and survives mostly on fruit. It lives in tropical areas, notably in South America's rocky rainforests.


What's the name of this common bird with black and rust feathers?

The American robin breeds throughout Canada and Alaska, lives year-round in the lower 48 states, and migrates to Mexico and Central America for the winter, so this bird is pretty common in North America. It shares a name with the European robin, but the birds are from different families.


These feathers are from the fastest in the sky. What bird is this?

The peregrine falcon is one of the most revered raptors in the sky, and it can be found in many parts of the world. A cheetah can run 75 miles per hour, and a sailfish can swim 70 miles per hour, but a peregrine falcon can dive at 240 miles per hour, making it the fastest animal on the planet.


Do you know what nine-foot bird sports these feathers?

The ostrich is the fastest land bird, and it can't fly. It can run up to 45 miles per hour and is covered in soft, fluffy feathers that are regularly gathered by people for feather dusters and fashion items. The birds are native to the African continent.


Can you name this multicolored bird with a royal crest?

There are about two dozen species of pheasant in the world, and the golden pheasant is one of the more eye-catching. It features a sporadic pattern of stripes, spots, orange, yellow, green, blue and more. The bird is native to China but has spread over the world.


Can you name this West Coast resident with a sleek coat of black feathers?

The California condor lives in central California and Arizona. Sadly, there are fewer than 500 of them left on Earth, making them one of the rarest birds. They are mostly black, with white patches on the underside of their wings.


Can you identify this tropical bird, known for its Mohawk crest?

The hoatzin is sometimes called a reptile bird, skunk bird or stinkbird because its weird digestive system produces a foul odor. Most people stay away from them, but they can be found in South America.


These feathers belong to the world's most dangerous bird (to humans). Do you know it?

A cassowary can grow six feet tall and weigh 100 pounds. They're territorial birds, so it's best to keep your distance. They've been known to attack humans that encroach upon their territory, earning them the title of the world's most dangerous bird.


This sultan of the sky is covered with plain black and white feathers but features a colorful head and neck. What is it?

The king vulture is one of the largest birds in the sky, with a wingspan that can reach seven feet and a length of nearly three feet. Its most striking features are the folded, colorful flaps of skin on its head. This bird can be found in parts of South America.


Do you know this eagle with a long feathered crest?

The Philippine eagle is the national bird of the Philippines, and anyone caught hunting the bird faces prison time. It's a rare and really powerful bird that is mostly recognized by its shaggy head of feathers.


Seven U.S. states call this feathery friend their state bird. Do you know what it is?

The MLB's St. Louis Cardinals play out of Missouri, and, although seven states call the cardinal their state bird, Missouri isn't one of them. The eastern bluebird is Missouri's state bird. The cardinal is known for its red and black plumage but also features other colors.


Can you name this shaggy, seven-foot-tall Australian bird?

Emus are covered in soft grey, brown, white and black feathers that provide camouflage. More importantly, their feathers are designed to protect them from the sun's blazing heat while they run around the Australian Outback all day.


What's this bird that is capable of learning hundreds of words?

The African grey parrot, found in central Africa, is considered to be one of the smartest animals in the world. It is capable of learning many words and differentiating between objects and colors. It is one of the most sought after birds in the world.


Do you know this vibrant red-orange national bird of Trinidad and Tobago?

These tropical birds have spread all over South America and the Caribbean, and they even made it to Florida at one point. The bird gets its name from its scarlet coat of feathers, which differentiates it from all other ibis, which are usually black or white.


What is this wildly common bird that features a stripe pattern?

These tiny birds are found almost everywhere in the world, and they love living in close proximity to people. They feature bright brown and rust feathers with black stripes that can sometimes resemble tiger stripes.


Can you name this Christmas bird that features a zebra patch on its neck?

There are hundreds of species of dove and pigeon in the world, but the European turtle dove is one of the most striking because of the patch of black and white stripes on its neck. The mourning dove, which is one of America's most popular birds, is sometimes mistaken for a turtle dove.


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