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10 Birds With Crests (With Pictures)

birds with crests Eurasian hoopoe.

If you’re a bird enthusiast, you know birds come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. Some birds have unique features that set them apart from the rest. One of these features is a crest.

There are many different types of crests, each with its unique appearance. Some crests are brightly coloured, while others are more subdued. Some crests are long and flowing, while others are short and spiky. In this article, we will look at 10 birds with crests that will capture your attention.

What Is a Bird’s Crest?

A bird’s crest is a tuft of feathers on the top of its head. The appearance of the crest can vary significantly among different bird species and can come in various shapes and sizes, from tufts of feathers to elaborate plumes and combs. The crest can be used for communication, for example, being raised or lowered to display different levels of aggression or excitement and used by males to attract a mate.

Bare-faced Go-away-bird

bare-faced go-away-bird
Dominic Sherony, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The bare-faced go-away-bird is unique with a distinctive, uniquely bare, black face. This bird is part of the Musophagidae family and is native to the eastern Afrotropics. The sexes are similar, other than the female’s green beak. The bird’s unusual grey colour makes it stand out from other birds in the family.

The bare-faced, go-away-bird is known for its bushy crest and primarily white head and breast. It is found in moist savanna, woodland, shrubby cultivation, and gardens. Usually, it is found in small groups. It is loud and vocal, with a hollow “khweow” call and a maniacal series of cackles and whines from multiple birds in chorus.

Black-crested Titmouse

black-crested titmouse
Andy Morffew, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The black-crested titmouse is a small grey songbird with a bold black crest. It is a characteristic bird of much of central and southern Texas and is closely related to the tufted titmouse of eastern North America.

The bird is known for its familiar chick-a-dee call, or a sweet whistled peer-peer, similar to a tufted Titmouse. It can be found in woodlands, parks, and gardens with large trees. It feeds on insects, spiders, and seeds. It nests in tree cavities, uses nest boxes and is a non-migratory bird.

Eurasian Hoopoe

birds with crests Eurasian hoopoe.

The hoopoe is known for its unique fan-like crest on the top of its head. It is the only member of the family Upupidae of the roller order, Coraciiformes. The hoopoe has a distinctive cinnamon colour with black and white wings, a tall erectile crest, a broad white band across a black tail, and a long, narrow, curved bill. Its call is a soft “oop-oop-oop”.

The hoopoe is a ground-dwelling bird that feeds on insects, especially beetles, ants, and grasshoppers. It probes the ground using its long, curved bill to look for food. The bird is known for its unique feeding behaviour, using its beak to flick its prey into the air before catching it again in its mouth.

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

Guianan cock-of-the-rock.
AISSE GAERTNER, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Guianan cock-of-the-rock is a stunning bird with bright orange plumage and a large, half-moon crest on its head. This bird is part of the cotinga family and is found in the tropical rainforests of South America near rocky outcrops.

Male Guianan Cock-of-the-Rocks are known for their elaborate courtship displays, where they establish their own courts on the ground and maintain and defend a post in low branches overhead. As many as 50 males can be seen displaying at the same time. Conversely, the females are brown and best identified by their size, odd shape and pale eyes.

These birds are also known for their unique nesting habits. They prefer to nest in rock formations, so they are often found in lowland rainforests near rocky outcrops. The males will use their sharp beaks to excavate a small cave in the rock face, where the female will lay her eggs. Unfortunately, these beautiful birds are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and mining activities.

Rufous-crested Coquette

This tiny hummingbird is known for its fabulous spiky orange crest, adding elegance to its overall greenish appearance. The male is particularly striking, with each feather of its crest tipped in black.

It’s one of the smallest hummingbirds you’ll ever see, measuring just 6.4 – 7 cm in length and weighing an average of 2.8g. Despite its small size, it’s still easy to spot, thanks to its dark throat and conspicuous white band across its rump.

The female rufous-crested coquette is much less striking than the male, but it’s still worth looking out for. It has a rufous forehead and throat and a white band across its rump. Its overall appearance is much less green than the males.

Red-crested Turaco

red crested turaco.

This bird is native to Africa and is easily recognizable by its bright green body, long tail, and tall, red crest. Its eyes are red, and its beak is yellowish-green. The red-crested turaco is a frugivorous bird that feeds primarily on fruit. It is also known for its distinctive call, which sounds like a jungle monkey. This bird is endemic to western Angola and is the country’s national bird.

Regarding breeding, the red-crested turaco is monogamous and typically mates for life. The female will lay two eggs, and both parents will take turns incubating them. Once the chicks hatch, they will be fed a diet of regurgitated fruit by both parents.


Kate from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The hoatzin is a unique bird that can be found in the rainforests of South America. It is known for its distinctive appearance, which includes a spiky, rufous crest on its head. This bird is also known as the stinkbird because of the unpleasant odour it emits, which comes from its digestive system.

It has an unfeathered blue face with maroon eyes. The long, sooty-brown tail is bronze-green tipped with a broad whitish or buff band at the end. It has a long neck and a small head; its plumage is streaked brown above and yellowish below.

One interesting fact about the hoatzin is that its chicks have claws on two of their wing digits. This is a unique adaptation that helps the chicks climb trees and escape from predators. The hoatzin is a clumsy flyer that spends most of its time in trees, feeding on leaves, fruits, and flowers.

Steller’s Jay

Stellers jay.

The steller’s jay has black-and-blue plumage and a distinctive crest on its head. It’s common in western North America, from Alaska to Nicaragua, and is often found in dense coniferous woods.

The steller’s jay is a corvid family member, including crows, jays, and magpies. It’s about the same size as a blue jay, with a length of 30 – 34 cm and a wingspan of 45 – 48 cm. The bird’s diet consists mainly of acorns, pine nuts, fruit, insects, and small rodents, which it finds on the ground or steals from other birds.

The bird has a wide range of calls, including a harsh “shook-shook” call that it uses to communicate with other members of its flock. It also has a distinctive “wheep” call that it uses to warn other birds of danger.

Red-crested Cardinal

The red-crested cardinal is a striking bird with its bright red crest and throat contrasting with its grey-black and white underparts. It is native to South America, particularly Brazil, and is a songbird from the Tanagers family. Despite the similar name, it is not a close relative of the true cardinal family of Cardinalidae.

In the non-breeding season, the red-crested Cardinal gathers in large flocks. The song of this bird is a slow musical whistle, which is a pleasure to hear. They are known to be quite vocal and can be heard singing throughout the day.

Guinea Turaco

guinea turaco.

The Guinea Turaco is native to the forests of West Africa, where it can be found in various habitats, including primary and secondary forests, forest edges, and clearings. It is often inconspicuous in the treetops, but its distinctive call can give away its presence. It is known for its distinctive crest, which comprises long, thin feathers extending from the top of its head.

The plumage is mainly brilliant green and blue, and the tail and wings are dark purplish, except for the crimson primary feathers that are very distinct in flight. Their diet includes fruit, flowers, leaves, termites, seed pods, acacia, figs, and snails. It has a loud cawr-cawr call consisting of 10 – 16 raucous cawing notes.