In this article, we will look at some of the most interesting species of birds with yellow eyes, from the iconic Bald Eagle to the lesser-known black and yellow broadbill. The colour yellow is caused by the pigment xanthophyll, which is also found in birds’ feathers and some animals’ skin.
Birds with yellow eyes include:
- Yellow-eyed Junco
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Bald Eagle
- Burrowing Owl
- Golden Pheasant
- Grey Heron
- Black Currawong
- Black and Yellow Broadbill
The yellow-eyed junco is a small bird that belongs to the New World Sparrows family. It has a pale grey plumage with a reddish brown back that extends onto the wings. The bird’s most distinctive feature is its yellow or yellow-orange eye.
The yellow-eyed junco is primarily found in open montane woodland, usually dominated by pine in Mexico and barely enters the US. It is commonly found in mountain forests near the Mexican border.
They move over the ground with an odd shuffling walk and have a much more musical and varied song than their dark-eyed relatives to the north. The bird feeds on insects, seeds, and fruits.
The great-tailed grackle is a large, lanky blackbird with yellow eyes that stand out against its dark, silky-looking feathers. Adult males are entirely black with violet-blue iridescence feathers. They have a large, thick bill, which is nearly completely straight. Their eyes are yellow and they have a long, deeply-keeled tail, almost as long as their body, often held in a V-shape. Females are brown with a paler eyebrows and throat.
The great-tailed grackle is found in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They inhabit various habitats, including urban areas, open woodlands, and scrublands. They are common in urban areas, where they can be found in parking lots, parks, and along roadsides.
Great-tailed grackles are known for their bold and aggressive behaviour when they gather in large flocks. Their vocalisations are loud and varied. They feed on various foods, including insects, seeds, fruits, and small animals. They are known to raid crops, mainly corn and rice, and can cause significant damage.
Bald eagles have a distinctive plumage that sets them apart from other birds of prey. They have a white head and tail, contrasting sharply with their dark brown body. Their beak and eyes are also bright yellow, which adds to their striking appearance. Immature bald eagles have brown head and tail, which gradually turns white as they reach adulthood.
Bald eagles live throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada to the northern parts of Mexico. They prefer to live near large bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and coastlines. Their nests are built in tall trees near the water, and they use the same nest year after year, which gradually grows in size because of the continued use.
They primarily eat fish but will also eat small mammals, birds, and carrion. They hunt by soaring high above the water and diving to catch their prey. Bald eagles are also skilled at stealing food from other birds, such as ospreys.
Burrowing owls are small, long-legged owls with brown bodies flecked and barred with white and large, yellow eyes. These birds have long, pointed wings and a short, square tail that helps them manoeuvre through the air.
Burrowing owls are found throughout North and South America, from Canada to Argentina. These birds are found in open grasslands, deserts, and agricultural areas where they can hunt for their prey.
Unlike most owls burrowing owls, they are active during both the day and night. These birds primarily hunt for insects and small mammals, such as mice and voles. They are also known to eat lizards and other small reptiles. Burrowing owls have a series of whistles and chatters to communicate with each other.
Burrowing owls often make their homes in abandoned burrows dug by other animals, such as prairie dogs. They will also dig their own holes, if necessary, using their sharp talons to excavate the soil.
The plumage of the osprey is brown on the back and wings, with a white underbelly. The head is white with a distinctive black eye stripe extending from the beak to the back. Their eyes are yellow, their beak is black with a hooked upper jaw, and their legs and feet are black.
Ospreys hunt by diving into the water feet first and emerging with a fish in their talons. They have reversible outer toes that allow them to grasp fish with two toes in front and two behind.
Ospreys are found near water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and coasts. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica, and their range extends from the Arctic to the tropics.
They breed in North America, Europe, and Asia and migrate to South America, Africa, and Australia during the non-breeding season. They mate for life and return to the same nest every year, adding to it each breeding season.
The golden pheasant is a beautiful bird known for its vibrant and colourful plumage. The male has a bright golden crest on its head, edged with red, and a red and gold rump. Its upper back is green, and it’s wings and upper neck are dark. The male’s underparts are red, and its tail is long and finely barred. On the other hand, the female is paler brown with a duller plumage and lacks the male’s bright colours.
The golden pheasant is native to the mountainous forests of western China, where it can be found in dense, dark woodland. It is a shy bird that prefers to keep to itself and is often difficult to spot. However, it has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
Golden pheasants are omnivorous birds that feed on a variety of seeds, fruits, and insects. When threatened, they will dash to the nearest cover and can be surprisingly tricky to find in mixed and conifer woodland.
Grey herons have grey feathers on their head, neck, and back, with white feathers on their chest and belly. They have long, dagger-like bills that are greyish-yellow, turning more orangey in the breeding season. Their legs are long and yellowish-green or grey. Juveniles are similar to adults, but underparts are more grubby and streaked, while the black and white head markings are less distinct.
They are found in a variety of habitats, like wetlands, rivers, lakes, and estuaries. They are widespread throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa and can also be found in parts of Australia. They are known to be adaptable and can thrive in both urban and rural environments.
Grey herons hunt by standing motionless by the water’s edge or standing in shallow water they use their long bills to spear their prey. They feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. They also use bait, such as bread, to attract fish.
The black currawong is a large, crow-sized bird with black plumage throughout, a long, heavy black bill, and bright yellow eyes. Its white tail tip and primary tips can be challenging to see, even in flight. Immature birds are similar but duller in appearance.
The species only lives in Tasmania and nearby islands such as King Island and Flinders Island. They inhabit mountain and lowland forests, coastal heath, grazing land, and urban areas.
The black currawong is an omnivorous bird that feeds on various foods, including insects, small mammals, fruit, and carrion. They have also been known to scavenge from human garbage. They are typically found in pairs or small family groups and are known for loud, melodious calls. They are also known to be curious birds and will investigate new objects in their environment.
The black currawong is a territorial bird and will defend its territory from other birds, including other black currawongs. They are also aggressive towards other bird species, including smaller birds like the superb fairy-wren.
Sparrowhawks are small birds of prey with bright-yellow eyes. They have broad wings and yellow legs with long talons. Males are smaller than females with grey upperparts, a streaked orange-brown front and a slate-grey head on top with an orange-brown face. Females are up to 25% larger than males and are streaked with dark brown all over.
The yellow eyes of the sparrowhawk change colour as they age, with younger birds having greenish-yellow eyes that turn brighter yellow within the first couple of years of their life. In some older sparrowhawks, the eye colour can become orange or, occasionally, red.
Sparrowhawks are found throughout much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. They prefer woodlands, hedgerows, and other areas with plenty of cover, making them well-suited to suburban and urban environments.
Sparrowhawks are agile hunters that rely on their speed and manoeuvrability to catch their prey. They mainly feed on small birds but will also go after pigeons and doves. Sparrowhawks are known for their stealthy hunting style, often flying low and fast through vegetation to surprise their prey. They are also known for their ability to navigate through dense woodland, using their sharp eyesight and quick reflexes to avoid obstacles.
Black and Yellow Broadbill
The black and yellow broadbill has a distinctive colour pattern that makes it easy to identify. Males have blackheads, upperparts with a white collar and black breast band. They also have prominent yellow markings on the back and wings. The female is similar in appearance but has a slightly duller colouration.
They are found in the lowland and hill forests. It is native to Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They prefer to live in dense forests, where they can forage for their food and build their nests. They are not migratory birds; they typically stay in one area throughout the year.
The black and yellow broadbill is an insectivorous bird species that occasionally eat fruit. They forage for their food at middle to high levels in the forest canopy and are known to move with mixed-species flocks.
During the breeding season, both males and females help build a large, untidy, pear-shaped nest out of moss, fungal mycelia, and leaves. They typically breed during the dry season, which varies depending on their location.