Birds are often dressed in unbelievable arrays of colors, which are usually present on their feathers. While feathers are typically their most colorful parts, there are cases when other body parts colorfully outshine the feathers. In the case of this article, we are speaking about the beak – specifically red beaks.
In the awe-inspiring natural world, few sights are as captivating as birds that sport red beaks. Birds with red beaks are often very striking in appearance, as the red beak complements the splendid colors on the rest of their bodies. The red beak is particularly important for dull-colored birds, making them far more attractive.
Across the globe, many birds of different shapes and sizes have red beaks. The beak is very important for birds as they use it for preening, capturing and killing prey, searching for food, eating, fighting, courtship displays, and feeding their babies.
Beaks come in various sizes and shapes, indicating what the birds eat. For example, birds with sturdy, thick beaks often eat seeds, and birds with thin, delicate beaks usually eat soft insects or drink nectar.
Have you ever seen a bird with a red beak? If so, you may recognize some of the birds mentioned in this article. Globally, many birds have red beaks, but this article shows 15 of the most colorful ones.
The Northern Cardinal is a charismatic crested bird with a red beak. Males have red plumage overall, with a black throat and face mask.
The females are brown overall, except for the red beak, crest, wings, and tail.
They inhabit swamps, woodland and forest edges, shrubby fields, thickets, parks, and yards.
They are found in eastern and central North America, as well as the southwestern United States and northern Central America.
Regarding diet, the Northern Cardinal typically feeds on seeds, fruit, buds, and insects.
The Black Oystercatcher, as its name suggests, is a large, black bird with a red beak. They have yellow eyes and pale pink legs.
This shorebird occurs along coastlines, where they prefer rocky shores. They are native to the Pacific Coast of North America, from Alaska to northern Baja California.
It feeds on many intertidal marine organisms, especially mollusks.
The Red-billed Chough is a black corvid with a slim, curved red beak and red legs. A green sheen is often present on the wings and tail.
They occur in mountainous regions along cliffs and nearby grasslands, fields, and pastures.
They are found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, southern Europe, central, southern, and eastern Asia, and North Africa.
Their diet includes insects, spiders, earthworms, seeds, and berries.
The Red-billed Tropicbird is a fabulous-looking large seabird that spends most of its life at sea and is rarely seen from the mainland.
Males are primarily white, with long tail feathers, a black face mask, a black band on each wing, and a red beak. It has a black crescent in front and a black stripe behind each eye. On the upper side, you’ll notice fine dark barring.
Females differ by having a yellow beak and no long tail feathers.
Red-billed Tropicbirds breed on rocky islands but live at sea during the non-breeding season.
They occur in tropical and subtropical areas of the Atlantic, eastern Pacific, and northwestern Indian Ocean.
They feed on fish and squid, usually by plunge-diving into the sea.
The Green Wood Hoopoe is a predominantly black bird with a glossy green and purple sheen. They have a long decurved red beak and red feet. The long tail has white bars on the outer feathers, and the wings have white wing bars.
This social species inhabits woodlands, thickets, riverine forests, forest edges, savannas, parks, and yards.
Their range extends through most of sub-Saharan Africa.
They feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates found in cracks and crevices.
The Rose-ringed Parakeet is a bright green bird with a red beak. The males have a black bib, a collar colored pink and black that extends onto the neck, and the crown has a bluish crescent on the base. Females are less colorful than males.
This parakeet is found in woodlands, agricultural areas, grasslands, open forests, savannas, cities, parks, and yards.
Their native range is in western and central Africa and South Asia. They have been introduced to various places across the globe.
Their diet comprises seeds, fruit, and nectar.
The Black Stork is a big bird with a red beak. They are black with a green gloss on most of the body, except for the white belly, thighs, and vent. In addition, they have a large red bill, reddish legs, and red skin around the eyes.
They occur in open woodlands, mountainous regions, grasslands, marshes, wetlands, agricultural fields, ponds, and along rivers and lake edges.
The one population is migratory, breeding in Europe and Asia and moving south to tropical Africa and southern Asia for winter. The population in southern Africa is resident but has altitudinal migratory patterns.
They feed mainly on fish but also eat amphibians, reptiles, insects, and small mammals.
The Common Waxbill is a small bird with a red beak. They have brownish-grey bodies with dark bars, a red face mask, a red belly patch, and a dark vent. Additionally, they have whitish cheeks and throats.
They occur in flocks in dry fields, pastures, forest edges, grasslands, wetlands, and parks in urban areas.
Their native range is in southern, central, eastern, and western Africa. They have been introduced to many parts of the world.
Their diet comprises seeds and small insects.
The Grey-headed Kingfisher is a stunning dryland kingfisher with a large red bill. They have a namesake grey head, neck, and chest, black lores, a black back, and a chestnut belly and underwings. In addition, they have a bright blue rump, tail, and flight feathers.
They live in savannas and woodlands, particularly riverine woodlands.
They occur throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
This species shows complex migratory patterns. It is resident throughout most of its range, but some birds migrate south to breed in southern Africa and north to breed on the Arabian Peninsula.
This kingfisher eats insects almost exclusively.
The African Swamphen is a large water bird with a red beak. They have a sizeable purple-blue body, a turquoise-blue face and neck, a bronze-green back, and a white undertail. They also have long red legs, a dark red beak, and a red shield on the forehead.
They live in wetlands, marshes, and flooded grasslands comprising thick plants.
This species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, the northwestern Arabian Peninsula, and Madagascar, where it remains all year round.
Their diet comprises plant materials such as seeds, stems, roots, leaves, and flowers. They also eat other food types like amphibians, fish, bird eggs, carrion, nestlings, snails, worms, insects, and crustaceans.
The Red-breasted Merganser is a thin-billed diving duck that sports a shaggy crest, red eyes, and a red beak. Males have a dark green head, a white neck collar, a black hind neck, a brown chest with black mottling, and grey sides with fine black lines.
The back is black with broad white stripes on the border, the rump and tail are grey with a black terminal band, the wings are black with a white wing patch, and the underparts are white.
Females are primarily grey except for the reddish-brown head and neck, and white chest. The upper wing is less white, and they have a smaller white wing patch.
They are usually seen on large water bodies such as lakes and small rivers during summer. In winter, they occur in lagoons, estuaries, and bays.
This species is migratory, spending summer in the northern sections of North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. In winter, they migrate south.
They mainly feed on fish and crustaceans but also eat amphibians, insects, and worms.
The Red-billed Oxpecker is a unique species with olive-brown upper parts, a red eye surrounded by a yellow wattle, a red bill, and creamy-white underparts.
They inhabit grasslands, savannas, and farmlands, where they associate with large grazing mammals.
They often sit on the animals and feed on ticks and other parasites found on their skin. They sometimes eat skin and mucus and drink blood from wounds on their hosts.
They occur in southern and eastern Africa.
The White Ibis is a large white bird with a long red beak, red skin around the eyes, black wing tips, blue eyes, and pinkish-red legs.
They naturally inhabit fresh and saltwater marshes, wetlands, swamps, estuaries, mangroves, and shallow ponds. In some areas, they can be seen in parks, parking lots, and lawns, where they scavenge for scraps.
Their distribution includes the southeastern United States, Central America, and northern South America.
Their diet comprises crustaceans, insects, worms, frogs, fish, and lizards.
The Laughing Gull is a medium-sized gull, which, in breeding plumage, has grey upper parts, black wing tips, a black head, a dark red beak, red legs, and a white neck, while white crescents surround each eye.
In non-breeding plumage, this gull has a white head with a grey-smudged cheek, while the beak and legs are blackish.
They occur on the east coast of North America, the Caribbean, both sides of Central America, and northern South America.
They remain throughout the year in the southern and southeastern United States and the Caribbean, while those in the north of their range migrate to Central America and northern South America.
They are primarily a coastal species, seen on beaches, salt marshes, and mangroves, and rarely inland.
It feeds on crabs, mollusks, aquatic invertebrates, insects, worms, fish, and scraps. Occasionally, they feed on bird eggs and chicks.
The Arctic Tern is one of the world’s most elegant seabirds that takes on one of the greatest migrations in the animal kingdom.
They’re pale grey in breeding plumage with a black cap and white cheeks. They have long tail streamers and a white rump, tail, and vent. In addition, they have paler underparts, red legs, and a short red beak.
In non-breeding plumage, they have a partially black cap, dark legs, and dark beaks.
In the summer, they breed in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.
They migrate over deep waters to the Southern Hemisphere, as far south as Antarctica, for winter. In total, their migratory pattern leads them to fly approximately 70,000 kilometers every year.
They occur on tundra, coastlines, meadows, fields, pastures, lagoons, and ponds during the breeding season. In winter, they are primarily pelagic, seen over the ocean, and pack ice.
They feed on fish mainly but also eat crustaceans, mollusks, and insects.
From the sea to the mountains, birds with red beaks inhabit a multitude of habitats across all parts of the world. In fact, they can be seen from as far south as Antarctica to as far north as the Arctic!
Birds with red beaks display a range of characteristics, behaviors, and distributions. Some birds are range-restricted, while others have expansive distributions covering large areas of land or sea. They also differ in their movements, with some being sedentary and others migratory.
You’ll also notice that many birds only have red beaks for a season. That is typically the breeding season. However, other birds have red beaks all year round.
They all have unique beak designs that allow them to feed on specific food types and fulfill their role in an ecological niche.
This article conveys only a small percentage of the birds with red beaks worldwide. Next time you plan a birding trip, why not choose a destination which falls into the range of a red-billed birds?