These tufts, especially those located on top of the bird’s head, have different roles, from expressing the bird’s emotional state and stress level to wooing and aggression, and even as a means of communication.

In this article, the beauty of the most astonishing birds with tufted heads will captivate you, and their secrets will tickle your curiosity.

Birds With Tufted Heads

First of all, I should be mentioned that there are two types of tufts: there are the ears tufts (at some species of owls, for example), which are too far from the top of the head, to be considered crests, although they are made of feathers, and they have nothing to do with the bird’s sense of hearing.

The second type of tufts are on top of the bird’s head, and they look like crests of different shapes and sizes.

Now, the crests are so much more interesting, practical, and, of course, much more breath-taking.

Further, I invite you to take a deep breath and prepare to be mesmerized because fourteen of the most beautiful birds with tufted heads are about to fashion their “hair” styles, along with their secrets.

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck
Credit: @jonas_haugli_photography

The Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), also known as Tufted Pochard, is a small diving duck from northern Eurasia.

The Tufted Ducked won its place in our list due to its tuft of feathers hanging from the back of the crown.

The tuft is rarely visible since the bird’s head is wet most of the time due to its feeding behavior (diving), and the feathers are smothered against the head.

The Tufted Duck inhabits close to marshes, lakes, coastal lagoons, sheltered ponds, and shorelines and feeds with mollusks, water insects, and a few types of plants.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser
Credit: @ruthjolly

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is the smallest species of mergansers and the only living species from the genus Lophodytes (from greek: lophos meaning “crest” and dutes meaning “diver”.

Both male and female Hooded Merganser has tufts on their heads, forming a crest till the back of the head.

The female’s crest is light reddish-brown, while the male’s tuft is black with white patches on each side of it, more visible when the bird raises its crest during wooing.

The Hooded Merganser lives in the woods near rivers, creeks, fresh, brackish estuaries, and edges of ponds and feeds mainly with fish, completing its diet with crustaceans and water insects.[1]

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Credit: @moments4littlethings

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a mid-sized songbird, a typical performance and style around the backyards from North America, southwestern U.S., and Mexico.

The male is nearly whole red (except its black face), and the female is brownish with reddish on wings and tail.

Both male and female Northern Cardinal has a tuft on top of their heads, forming a crest, which is richer for males and sharper for females.

Northern Cardinal inhabit areas of forest edges, overgrown fields, backyards, marshy thickets, in general, shrubby areas with food supply: seeds, fruits, and insects.[2]

Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jay
Credit: @christineanneho

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is an astonishing and aggressive bird, unmistakable due to its black and blue plumage and the shaggy crest.

The tuft on top of the head has two blue or white stripes in front, making the bird look like having two vertical “eyebrows”.

Steller’s Jay shows significant regional variations, coastal populations having the darkest plumage, while those living in coniferous forests have shorter tuft.

The diet of Steller’s Jay is omnivorous, the bird feeding itself with seeds, nuts, fruits, and small rodents, eggs, nestlings, even small reptiles.

Steller’s Jay is widespread in western North America, from Alaska to Nicaragua.[3]

Erect-Crested Penguin

Erect-Crested Penguin
Credit: @diane_hebb

Erect-Crested Penguin (Eudyptes sclateri) is a small to mid-sized penguin endemic to New Zeeland, the largest of crested penguin species and the fourth heaviest extant penguin.

Erect-Crested Penguin is distinctive by the yellow tufts that grow above its eyes, forming a short, erect, brush-like crest.

The Erected-Crested Penguins live on pack ice and the surrounding marine areas, dispersed outside the breeding season; the birds gather in large populations in the breeding season, nesting on the rocky terrain.

The menu of Erect-Crested Penguins is made of krill and squid, delighting itself from time to time with small fish.

Great Curassow

Great Curassow
Credit: @nomad__82

The Great Curassow (Crax rubra) is a sizeable hearty bird living in small groups, feeding on the ground but nesting and roosting in the trees.

Both males and females Great Curassow have curly tufts that form a unique waved crest, but they differ in the plumage colors: the males are black with a white belly, while females have three types of morphs (barred, rufous, and dark).

The Great Curassow forages on the ground for fallen fruits and seeds and, occasionally, scrapes the soil for arthropods or small vertebrates.

The bird’s natural habitat is from southern Mexico to western Ecuador, but, sadly, at present, national parks and reserves have become the only places where this beauty can be admired.[4]

Guinea Turaco

Guinea Turaco
Credit: @dwight.stevens

Guinea Turaco (Tauraco persa), also known as Green Lorie or Green Turaco, is a small green bird that effortlessly hides in the rooftop’s plain sight.

Guinea Turaco is a true wonder to watch, with a glossy plumage, black and white “makeup” around their eyes, green chest, neck, and head.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Guinea Turaco also has an upright tuft on its head, which forms a circular green crest, that may have a red or purple tip.

Guinea Turaco feeds on a large variety of fruits, some flowers, and buds found in the subtropical and tropical moist lowlands.

The bird has an extensive range in the forested areas and savannas of West and Central Africa.

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Credit: @zoogirlsd

Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) is a large deep blue-grey pigeon with a maroon chest, red eyes, and a small black mask.

The exquisite beauty of Victoria Crowned Pigeon is given by a tuft of the head made of blue white-tipped feathers, similar to lace.

During the courtship ritual, the male Victoria Crowned Pigeon bows his head to the female, stretches forward, waves his head up and down while swinging his spread tail at the same time, and then lifts its wings.

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon usually feeds on seeds, flowers, and leaves, but they supplement their diet with insects.

The bird inhabits lowlands and swamp forests, usually on former alluvial plains (including sago forests) from northern New Guinea.

Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock

Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock
Credit: @venturesbirding

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is a medium-sized roosting bird, often considered the national bird of Peru.

A true delight to watch, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock male has a bright red-orange cape, black body, grey wings, and a prominent tuft of feathers extending over its beak, creating a disk-shaped crest.

And since I promised you to reveal some birds’ interesting secrets, check this out!

Besides its exquisite look, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock also has a very complex mating ritual:

The males Andean Cock-of-the-Rock gather at collective meeting spots (called “leks”), where they “brag,” displaying their rich plumage and performing smooth moves.

There is nothing unusual until competitor males start roosting in pair or small groups to simulate confrontational displays (bowing, beak-snapping, wing-flapping, squeaking, grunting, etc.).

All the craziness and noise increase frantically when a female comes by to evaluate their performance.[5]

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock feeds on fruits, seeds, and, occasionally, insects and small vertebrates.

The bird is original from Andean rocky humid cloud forests, but it can also be found on ravines near water and forest streams from South America.

California Quail

California Quail
Credit: @birdsblooms

California Quail (Callipepla californica), also known as Valley Quail, is a small and round bird that lives in “coveys” (small flocks) on the soil.

Bathing in the sun and in the newly turned or soft ground is one of California Quail’s favorite daily group activities.

The plumage’s color is grey and brown, with white stripes on the sides and scally belly, male California Quail having a black face and longer more waved tuft.

Both males and females California Quail have a tuft made of six feathers that fall ahead of their faces; the tuft is black for males and brown for females.

California Quail feeds early in the morning, scratching the soil and foraging seeds and leaves from a wide variety of plants, including flowers, acorns, berries, and bulbs; at need, it supplements its diet with insects.

The California Quail has been the state bird of California since 1932.

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane
Credit: @siew.chingyong

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) is a majestic tall bird, known by many names: African crowned crane, golden crested crane, golden-crowned crane, Crested Crane, South-African crane, Eastern crowned crane, African crane, East African crowned crane – wow, this bird is famous.

And no wonder why: Grey Crowned Crane has a large grey body, white wings with brown and yellow-gold feathers, white sides of the head, and two red sacks under its beak.

In case this wasn’t enough of a beautiful display, Grey Crowned Crane has a tuft made of firm golden plumes, which form a crown around the bird’s head.

Grey Crowned Crane feeds with grass seeds, tiny frogs, insects, other invertebrates, and even soya beans, millet, and potatoes.

Original from wetlands and grasslands of eastern and southern Africa, Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda.

Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

Amazonian Royal Flycatcher
Credit: @natlifetoday

Amazonian Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus) is a medium-sized flycatcher with a broad mix of dark brown and dark yellow, reddish-cinnamon rump and tail.

Both males and females Amazonian Royal Flycatcher have a stiff tuft that forms a fan-shaped crest; the yellow-orange crests belong to females, while the red ones belong to males.

Unsurprisingly, considering its name, the Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is an insectivorous bird that inhabits humid lowlands along streams and seasonal floodplain forest from the Amazon ecosystem.

The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher lives in the open mid-level canopy, fluttering after food, single or in pairs.

European Crested Tit

European Crested Tit
Credit: @kurt_de_meulemeester

European Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus) is a small songbird, the only one with such a unique tufted head from northern Europe.

European Crested Tit has greyish brown plumage on back and wings, a white head with black eye-lines, a curved black stripe on the cheeks, and a lower black neckband.

Moreover, this beauty is even easier to spot due to its famous lifted peaked tuft, making the bird look like wearing a crown.

Like other tits, the European Crested Tit lives in pairs and feeds on seeds(pine), caterpillars, moth larvae, and insects.

The European Crested Tit is a common inhabitant of coniferous forests from central and northern Europe, deciduous forests in France and the Iberian Peninsula.

Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant
Credit: @zooparkzajezd

Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus), also known as the Chinese Pheasant, or Rainbow Pheasant, is a heavy-bodied ground-feeding bird so vividly colored that worth, indeed, the title of “rainbow”.

While the female may not be so spectacular with its dull, mottled brown plumage, the male is so astonishing that it makes up for her.

Besides its bright, vivid body color, the male Golden Pheasant also impresses with the tuft that starts on top of their heads, where it forms a crest and goes down the neck, creating a cape-alike look.

Being a shy and sensitive bird, the Golden Pheasant prefers the lack of disturbances given by the dense forests and woodlands.

The bird’s menu consists of seeds, grains, berries, larvae, and invertebrates.[6]

Although originally from mountain forests areas from China, feral populations of Golden Pheasant have been established in the north of Europe, the U.S, Mexico, South and Central America,  Australia, and New Zeeland.

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