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The Top 10 Beautiful Birds with Elegant Crests

While I have a great appreciation for manmade wonders, nothing comes close to the beauty of the natural world.

A crest is a prominent tuft of feathers on the bird’s head. The shape, length and thickness of crests can vary tremendously. Also, crests may be of the same or different colour and texture as feathers on the head of a bird.

Normally, the birds have a control over their crests and they may use these to express their emotions. Sudden raising of crest can enlarge the appearance of a bird and it can be used to frighten away other species approaching towards it.

Crests are also used for communication with other members of their species, even for display purposes during mating.

This article showcases 10 of the most beautiful birds with elegant crests.

1. Crested Wood-Partridge

2. Eurasian Hoppoe

3. Andean Cock-of-the-rock

4. Guinea Turaco

5. Sulphur-crested Cokatoo

6. Crested Coua

7. Great Crested Grebe

8. Himalayan Monal

9. Red-Whiskered Bulbul

10. Crested Pigeon

The Crested Patridge, a black short-tailed and plump gamebird, has glossy dark blue-black plumage which shimmers with green, blue and purple iridescence. Back and uppertail coverts are metallic green. The rounded wings are dark brown, but the primary flight feathers show white outer webs. The head is adorned with a tall, bright chestnut-reddish brushy crest, a white forehead spot and black frontal bristles. It has vivid red colouration of the legs, feet, base of the beak and bare skin encircling the eyes. The female has pea-green body plumage apart from the brown wing coverts. She has a slate-grey head with the bristles but no spot or crest.

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The Eurasian Hoopoe, a medium-sized bird, has pink-beige plumage with white rump. Its black tail has a broad white band. The splendid black and white bars on its wings are revealed when it takes flight. It is also distinctive with a slim, slightly curved and long bill which is black with a fawn base. The bill is allowed to be opened by the muscle of the head when it is inserted into the ground. Another distinctive feature is the beautiful black-tipped crest that is raised into a fan-shape while landing.

The species is widespread in Europe, Asia, North Africa and northern sub-Saharan Africa. It is mostly found busy on the ground, using its long bill to probe for invertebrates and small vertebrates like insects, worms and even small reptiles. It nests in tree-holes, cavities in walls and rocks.

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is a medium-sized perching passerine with intense red-orange head, neck, breast and shoulders. But it has black wings, greyish tertiary feathers and long blackish tail feathers. The feathers extending from its crest form a disk shape that extends over its short orange red bill, blue white eyes with black pupils and yellow legs. The female, however, is a brownish-orange over her whole body and has a less prominent crest.

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is perhaps the most popularly recognised bird in cloud forests in the Andes Mountains in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. It eats fruits and berries and occasionally insects. It is the national bird of Peru.

Other names: Tunki

The Guinea Turaco has largely green plumage with dark and purplish tail and wings. The head, neck and chest are green and there is a ring of bright red skin around each eye. The back and tail are black with purple gloss and the underparts are dull black. Its crimson primary feathers are very distinct in flight. It has a green semi-circular striking crest and its bill is thick and red.

It is found in forested areas and savannas of West and Central Africa, ranging from Senegal east to DR Congo and south to northern Angola. It eats a wide variety of fruits and some flowers and buds.

Other Names: Green Turaco, Green lourie

The Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is a large and most recognisable parrot species in Australasia. It has pristine white plumage with the underwing and tail tinged yellow. Its distinctive sulphur-yellow crest is erectile and can reach up to 14 centimetres in length. Its bill is black and the feet are dark-grey. Both the sexes are identical, but the female can be separated at close range by its red-brown eye in comparison with the darker brown in the male. This affectionate bird is an excellent mimic and can quickly learn to speak words and phrases.

This noisy and conspicuous cockatoo inhabits forest, woodland and cultivated cropland in eastern and south-eastern Australia, from Cape York, south to Tasmania. It has also been introduced to south-western Australia and New Zealand. Its normal diet consists of berries, seeds, nuts and roots.

The Crested coua is endemic to forests, savanna and brushland of Madagascar. A relative of cuckoos, it is one of the most beautiful treats of the nature. This medium-sized attractive bird has greenish-grey upperparts and grey head with conspicuous pointed crest. The bluish graduated tail is long with white tips. Its bill is black and so are the feet with reversible third toe for better grip. It is a highly vocal which gives several calls. It is known for its frequent and distinctive ‘laser gun’ call, which is a series of piercing, descending calls. The diet consists mainly of various insects, fruits, berries, seeds, snails and chameleons.

The great crested grebe is an elegant waterbird found fairly common on lakes, reservoirs and along larger rivers. it has ornate head plumes which adds to its vulnerability of being hunted. They are clumsy because their feet are placed so far back on their bodies. But they can dive to catch their prey and also use this to escape before flying. They are large-necked, elegant and large-sized. They are known for their courtship displays where they shake their heads after rising out of water. Males and females look similar but have different plumage depending on the season.

The Himalayan monal is a pheasant native to Himalayan forests and shrublands at elevations of 2,100-4,500 m (6,900-14,800 ft). The adult male has multicoloured plumage throughout, including a long, metallic green crest and coppery feathers on the back and neck. It has a prominent white rump that is most visible during flight. The tail feathers of the male are uniformly rufous, becoming darker towards the tips. In contrast the lower tail coverts of females are white, barred with black and red. The female is more subdued in colour but has a prominent white patch on the throat and a white strip on the tail.

It is a national bird of Nepal. It is a state Bird of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh, two states in India.

Other names: Impeyan monal and Impeyan pheasant

In Nepal: danphe or danfe

The Red-whiskered bulbul is a dark, slim, medium sized passerine song-bird that is native to South and Southeast Asia. It is about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length. It has brown upper-parts and whitish underparts with buff flanks and a dark spur running onto the breast at shoulder level. Its crest is tall pointed black and it has red face patch with thin black moustachial line. The tail is long and brown with white terminal feather tips, but the vent area is red. Both male and female are similar in plumage.

It perches conspicuously on high trees and on wires in urban and rural areas. It is very talkative and has a loud three or four note call. Its calls include a variety of chirps and whistles.

Other names: Crested bulbul

The Crested pigeon is found widely throughout mainland Australia except for far tropical north areas. It is found in lightly wooded grasslands in both rural and urban areas. Its length varies from 30 to 34 cm (12 to 13.6 in). It has a grey-brown plumage which becomes pinker on the underparts. The wings are barred with black, and are decorated with glossy green and purple patches. Its head is grey, with a pinkish-red ring around the eye.

It is easily identified by the long-pointed crest on the top of its head and it runs with the crest erect. It takes flight with noisy wing-claps, and in flight has a wing-whistle which makes it sound like a wind-up toy.

© 2021 Sukhdev Shukla


Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 20, 2021:

Hi, Peggy! Since I reside in an area which is quite open and green, I get a chance to watch some birds quite closely. Specially noteworthy are their sounds and the body movements when they are excited. Thanks for visiting the birds.

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 20, 2021:

Thanks, Ann! I am glad that a 'twitcher' appreciated these birds. Hoopoe is a very common bird here and it is thrilling to see it opening its crest. Its call is also interesting. In fact, there are many species of birds around here. The other day I saw a pair of peacocks and it was a also a thrilling experience.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2021:

Thanks for showing us these beautiful birds that sport crests. I love spotting the birds in our area. They provide a daily rostrum of ones visiting our birdbath and backyard.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 20, 2021:

All these birds are beautiful. I am a 'twitcher' so the more birds I see the better. We saw a hoopoe in France once, on our tree in the garden. They seldom come as far north as England, so I was very excited and it took a while to realise what it was.

Thanks for the education.


Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 20, 2021:

Hi, Ravirajan! I am glad you liked the pictures of the birds. It is always a pleasure to learn more and more about birds. Thanks for showing interest.

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 20, 2021:

I am glad you liked some of these birds with crest, Chitrangada. I have been busy with some translation work for about a year now. As a result I could not contribute to HubPages during this period. But I am glad you noticed my absence. I hope to be a regular contributor now onwards. Thanks for all the interest that you have been showing in my articles.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:

Very useful information Sukhdev and I must say the pictures of the words are beautiful. I have heard about 1-2 birds and thanks for educating me about the others. Thanks Sukhdev.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 18, 2021:

Excellent information about these amazing birds and their beautiful crests! Some of these I am aware of, and thanks for sharing the interesting information about the others!

Good to read an article from you after a long time!

Thank you for sharing!

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 18, 2021:

Thanks, Nithya. I am glad you enjoyed my article.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 18, 2021:

All these birds have beautiful crests. Great photos and interesting information, I enjoyed reading. Thank you for sharing.

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