11 Birds With Orange Beaks

11 Birds With Orange Beaks

In the bird world, bright colors hold lots of meaning. Bright colors in birds can factor into unusual camouflage, breeding displays, and even status rankings.

Often, bright colors in birds are also associated with tropical environments, you’ll see many more birds with greens, blues, and reds in the Amazon rainforest than you would in the woods of Utah.

However, that doesn’t mean that only tropical birds possess an array of colors. The more you look, the more you’ll discover bright and unusual bird colourations in any environment.

Orange beak coloration can be beneficial to birds for different reasons. But you can find birds with orange beaks just about anywhere in the world.

1. Toco Toucan

  • Scientific name: Ramphastos toco
  • Length: 55 to 65 cm (21 to 25 in)
  • Weight: 500 to 876 g (17 to 30 ounces)
  • Wingspan: 109 to 152 cm (43 to 60 inches)
  • Lifespan: 5-25 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (Population Decreasing)

The Toco Toucan is most likely the world’s most famous toucan species; with frequent depictions in film and media, some don’t even know other toucan species exist!

Toco Toucan

One of the Toco Toucan’s most defining features is their huge bills. Their bills are used to reach difficult to grab fruits and berries. Their massive bills measure 15.8 to 23 cm (614 to 9 in) alone.

The underside of the bill is a deeper red-orange, while the upperside is a lighter yellow-orange. At the tip of the bill is a large black spot. But the aesthetics of the toucan’s bill isn’t what’s important to this bird.

A unique feature among birds, this toucan’s bill can be used to hold excess heat, keeping the bird’s body temperature low! In this toucan’s hot and humid environment, this trait is an important survival tool.

2. Northern Cardinal

  • Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Length: 21 to 23.5 cm (8.3–9.3 in)
  • Weight: 33.6 to 65 g (1.19–2.29 oz)
  • Wingspan: 25 to 31 cm (9.8–12.2 in)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Northern Cardinal is one of North America’s most popular native birds. As the state bird for not one, but seven U.S. states, it’s easy to see that Americans love this bird.

Northern Cardinal male

This bird is known for their distinctive orange beak as well. Males are bright red in coloration, with a black eye mask; females are brown with soft pink markings. However, they have in common the species’ notable orange bill.

This species is a frequent visitor to backyard birdfeeding stations, which has overall seemed beneficial to cardinal populations.

Northern Cardinals are often depicted as a symbol of love. With strong pair bonds and allopreening between couples, it’s easy to see why. Male cardinals are also very involved in the rearing of their young, and will often continue feeding the young (along with the female) several days to weeks after they’ve fledged the nest.

3. Atlantic Puffin

  • Scientific name:  Fratercula arctica
  • Length: 28 to 30 cm (11 to 12 in)
  • Weight: 309 to 549 g (10.9 to 19.4 ounces)
  • Wingspan: 47 to 63 cm (19 to 25 in)
  • Lifespan: 3-25 years
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The Atlantic Puffin is one of several puffins with bright orange coloration on their bill, but they’re arguably the best known species.

Atlantic puffin with fish

They are a sturdily built seabird adept at hunting fish underwater. This bird’s thick bill is striped with orange, yellow, and black; it’s also a very thick bill, and puffins can deliver a strong bite. Almost all of the world’s Atlantic Puffins are found along the coasts of Europe.

These noisy, social birds are often found in large colonies, similar to many other seabirds.

In some parts of the world, puffins are a delicacy. Part of this is due to their high fat content, along with their abundance; if you find one puffin, you will find many. However, most people just admire puffins for their beauty, cute factor, and playful demeanors.

4. Variable Oystercatcher

  • Scientific name: Haematopus unicolor
  • Length: 42 to 47 cm (16 to 18 in)
  • Weight: 678 to 724 g (23.9 to 25.5 oz)
  • Wingspan: 72 to 91 cm (28 to 35 in)
  • Lifespan: 4-10 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Variable Oystercatcher is a notable bird even without their distinguished orange bill; a solid black bird on long, spindly legs, they’re hard to miss as they feed along the shallows.

Variable Oystercatcher

Some individuals are pied (black and white), but largely the species presents as solidly black. The bird’s bright orange beak color is also found on their legs. This species is endemic to New Zealand, where they live along the coast.

They are a sedentary species that typically lives in the same location year-round.

5. Australian Zebra Finch

  • Scientific name: Taeniopygia castanotis
  • Length: 10 to 11 cm (4 inches)
  • Weight: 15 to 30 g (0.5 to 1 ounce)
  • Wingspan: 20 to 22 cm (8 to 9 in)
  • Lifespan: 3-12 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Australian Zebra Finch, frequently known simply as the zebra finch, is one of the most common birds of Central Australia.

Australian Zebra Finch

They’re also incredibly common in captivity as a pet or aviary bird; they’re known for adorable chirps and social behaviors that make them easy to integrate with other bird species.

They earn the ‘zebra’ portion of their name from the barred markings on their heads and necks. This species also features a stunning but small orange beak. Females have a softer orange coloration, while a male’s beak ranges from a brighter orange to red.

It’s yet to be determined what benefits this species’ orange beak may provide for them.

As a pet, this finch is often friendly and easy to handle after getting used to their owners. They can be kept in mixed aviaries with enough space; they can display territorial behaviors, but with a roomy enclosure often get along well with other birds.

In captivity, you can find Zebra Finches in more color mutations developed by breeders, such as pied or cinnamon.

6. American White Pelican

  • Scientific name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  • Length: 130 to 180 cm (50 to 70 in)
  • Weight:  3.5 to 13.6 kg (7.7 to 30 lb)
  • Wingspan: 240 to 300 cm (95 to 120 in)
  • Lifespan: 8 – 30 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The American White Pelican is easily the largest bird that made it onto this list. With few natural predators, these pelicans can afford their lack of camouflage – as a bulky bird with pure white plumage and a large orange bill, these pelicans aren’t exactly hard to spot in the wild.

American White Pelican

Like other pelicans, this bird’s large bill also has a large pouch on the underside which can scoop & contain fish. These birds consume over four pounds of fish a day, which is caught by swimming, not diving like other pelican species.

These pelicans also like to work collaboratively in groups of up to twelve birds to maximize efficiency while fishing.

7. Black Oystercatcher

  • Scientific name: Haematopus bachmani
  • Length: 38 to 180 cm (15 to 48 in)
  • Weight: 907 to 1360 g. (32 to 48 ounces)
  • Wingspan: 71 to 91 cm (28–36 in)
  • Lifespan: 4 – 8 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Black Oystercatcher is another oystercatcher species with an eye-catching bill. This bird is entirely black in coloration; unlike their relative the Variable Oystercatcher, you’ll never see this bird with any white coloration.

Black Oystercatcher

This bird’s bill is brighter in coloration, sometimes ranging from orange to bright red. The eye ring of this bird is also an eye-catching orange, and the bird’s distinct yellow iris makes their appearance quite striking. This bird’s preferred habitat is rocky shorelines along the western coast of North America.

This bird’s bill isn’t just there for aesthetics; it’s also used for prying open shells of mussels and dislodging food from within rock crevices.

8. Crested Auklet

  • Scientific name: Aethia cristatella
  • Length: 18 to 27 cm (7.1 to 10.6 in)
  • Weight: 195 to 330 g (6.9 to 11.6 oz)
  • Wingspan: 34 to 50 cm (13 to 20 in)
  • Lifespan: 4 – 8 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Crested Auklet is a small member of the Auk family, which also includes seabirds such as puffins and guillemots. During the winter season, the Crested Auklet’s beak isn’t very impressive; at this time, it’s a dull yellow.

Crested Auklet

But during the breeding season, this bird’s beak becomes a bright orange. Additionally, this bird releases a unique scent during the breeding season that is presumed to help the birds socially. Breeding auklets are described as smelling like citrus fruit; researchers often compare the Crested Auklet’s scent to that of a tangerine.

While this evolutionary trait wasn’t intended as a treat for humans, it definitely leaves some longing to smell this seabird!

If you’re looking to find a Crested Auklet, you’re looking to find many. This social bird is almost never found alone, and sometimes crowds in flocks that number up to one million birds! Despite their large flocks, auklets prefer very small meals. Most of the Crested Auklet’s diet is made up of krill.

9. African Skimmer

  • Scientific name: Rynchops flavirostris
  • Length: 36 to 42 cm (14 to 16 in)
  • Weight: 111 to 204 g. (3.91 to 7.19 ounce)
  • Wingspan: 106 cm (41 in)
  • Lifespan: 4 – 8 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The African Skimmer’s beak color, a vibrant orange tipped with yellow, is the least noticeable thing about this bird’s beak. These birds have a significantly longer lower mandible, giving them the appearance of an underbite.

African Skimmer

The lower mandible is also flattened sideways. The appearance of this bird’s unique bill is often compared to scissor blades. Unlike most birds, this skimmer hunts with its mouth open! To catch their preferred prey (fish and other small aquatic animals), the skimmer flies along a body of water, dipping their lower mandible below the surface.

When the bird feels a fish, their bill almost instantaneously snaps shut.

The African Skimmer’s beak isn’t the only unique part of their appearance. This skimmer’s wings are very long in proportion to their body, and yet they have a short, forked tail. This bird’s legs are also a vibrant red that matches well with their eye-catching beak.

10. Royal Tern

  • Scientific name: Thalasseus maximus
  • Length: 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20 in)
  • Weight: 350 to 450 g (12 to 16 oz)
  • Wingspan: 125 to 135 cm (49 to 53 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 – 10 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Royal Tern is a distinguished seabird found through the Americas, although some vagrants occasionally appear in Europe. They are the second largest species of tern, behind only the Caspian Tern.

Royal Tern

They proudly display a vibrant orange-red bill that makes this bird stick out amongst the shoreline. However, adult Royal Terns are rarely predated upon. Babies, however, are vulnerable to many predators and have a high rate of mortality before reaching adulthood.

It takes four years for a Royal Tern to reach maturity. However, both adult and baby terns can be threatened by the presence of humans and their activities; this species has been known to become easily entangled in fishing nets.

This bird can be found near many bodies of water, but they prefer smaller, peaceful environments such as mangroves as opposed to a busy beach populated by humans. While fish is this bird’s main source of food, they have been known to take many assorted prey items ranging from small crabs to shrimp.

11. Grey-headed Gull

  • Scientific name: Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
  • Length: 42 cm (16.5 in)
  • Weight: 190 to 400 g (6 to 14 oz)
  • Wingspan: 94 to 110 cm (37 to 43 in)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 30 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Gulls are often regarded as nuisance animals by beachgoers. Noisy, bold, and willing to take food the second your back is turned, some people are understandably not fans of gulls, even though the beach is their natural home.

Grey-headed Gull

However, it would be hard to deny the beauty of the Grey-headed Gull. They are a small species of gull, with a distinct gray face and back.

They also have distinguished black wingtips. More notable is this bird’s vibrant red-orange bill and feet, which can easily set them apart from other gull species.

Like other seabirds, they often congregate in loud, raucous groups. In times of abundance, it’s common to see these gulls in flocks that can reach thousands of individual birds.


Orange bills are found in a variety of bird species; while this color is common in seabirds and tropical species, you can also find it in common American suburban visitors such as the aforementioned Northern Cardinal.

In some species of bird, one sex displays an orange beak, while the other does not; a famous example is that of the Eclectus parrot, where the male is a vibrant green with an orange beak, and the female is red with a black beak.

While we may not understand the evolutionary reasonings behind every bird’s vibrant colors, we can certainly appreciate the signals that bright colors give us, allowing us to easily spot birds in the field.

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