There are many scientific discussions about the brightly colored birds on our planet. But instead of getting bogged down with melanin, refraction, and mating theories, let’s just look and admire today.
This is a day to relax into the rainbow.
We will start with the first color of the rainbow: red. The summer tanager and vermillion flycatcher, both found in North America and elsewhere, begin the rainbow with a hot start.
Shades of red vary in the avian world, these two birds are red-orange.
Pink birds, a variation of red, are not seen as commonly.
Next on the spectrum, orange in birds is often paired with brown. But this azure kingfisher sports a very bright orange breast and legs (and dazzling azure head and back).
This orange and black grosbeak breeds in our backyard every summer. The male’s colors flash conspicuously as he flies.
Since many forests have green leaves that turn to yellow, yellow birds can be found in many places.
Green is a color often seen in parrot species.
This violet-green swallow, a bird who nests in our nest boxes, swoops through the air showing off his elegant emerald finery.
Blue and indigo are both colors of the rainbow, and in birds there are numerous shades of blue.
This so-called green honeycreeper appears more turquoise.
While this turquois jay is adorned with several shades of blue.
The greater blue-eared glossy starling provides a blue spectacle all its own.
The aptly-named resplendent quetzal gets my vote for the most beautiful bird on the planet. The blue-green shades shimmer in the light, and the long streamer tail floating behind the bird stops you in your tracks.
We traveled to a very remote village in a Central American cloud forest to see this bird. We met our guide at 5 a.m. and he took us to the wild avocado trees where the quetzals eat. At one point there was actually a traffic jam in the forest because truck drivers, potato farmers and anyone passing by abandoned their vehicles to join our admiration club.
The peacock, a native of India with a long swag of green and blue, is incredibly eye-catching with a tail full of eyes.
Violet birds. The Costa’s hummingbird looks black in some light. But its throat and head vibrantly come alive with iridescent purple in the right light.
And this purple honeycreeper is so garishly purple it is difficult to look anywhere else.
Although the lilac-breasted roller has a lilac-colored breast, the bird showcases a rainbow kaleidoscope, especially when the bird spins through the air.
This leads us to a few sensational birds who grace the world with all the colors of the rainbow.
The rainbow bee-eater, a marvel to behold.
The painted bunting effortlessly showcases all the colors on the artist’s palette.
And lastly, the remarkable rainbow lorikeet, boasting the colors of the rainbow like no other bird on this planet.
Birders and photographers know well the game of light when it comes to the outdoors. If a brightly colored subject isn’t in good light, the color doesn’t stand out.
But there are those marvelous days when the light is just right: a day to celebrate the colors of the rainbow and all the glory on this planet.
Written by Jet Eliot.
All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.