Feb 18

One of the most spectacular sights in the human world, the Rio Carnival gets underway today. But it isn’t just us humans who enjoy a flamboyant show, and no one does it quite like the birds! Here are some of our favourites, who wouldn’t look out of place in the streets of Rio!

A regal bird

Atlantic royal flycatcher photo

The Atlantic royal flycatcher is known for its spectacular crest, which is vivid scarlet in males, yellow in females, and ornately decorated with splashes of black and steel-blue tips.

Loud and proud

Gunnison sage-grouse photo

Not just content with a spectacular appearance, the display of the male Gunnison sage-grouse involves brushing its wings against its pouch feathers to produce loud swishing noises.

A national treasure

Raggiana bird of paradise photo

The feathers of the Raggiana birds of paradise have long been used to make ceremonial headdresses in Papua New Guinea, where it is also the national bird.

Groovy group

Greater flamingo photo

These beautiful greater flamingos perform spectacular group courtship displays, involving synchronised wing-raising, ritualised preening, and ‘head-flagging’ – their own version of samba perhaps?

Fearless and feisty

Kagu photo

The feisty, flightless kagu is a territorial bird, and it uses its crest and wings in threat displays to warn off other birds and potential predators.

Fancy feathers

Indian peafowl photo

The national bird of India, the Indian peafowl undoubtedly possesses some of the most spectacular feathers in the world, which he fans and shakes in the hope of impressing the ladies.

Crowning glory

Western crowned-pigeon photo

The western crowned-pigeon, a close relative of the dodo, is the largest pigeon in the world. At around the size of a small turkey, it is an attractive bird, sporting a fan-like crest of lacy light blue feathers on top of its head.

The dance of love

Japanese crane photo

The Japanese crane is sacred and seen as a symbol of fidelity, good luck, love and long life in the Orient. Adults usually pair for life and these bonds are reinforced in a mesmerising synchronised courtship dance.

Sealed with a hiss

Palawan peacock-pheasant photo

The male Palawan peacock-pheasant has a vibrant plumage, which is glossy black with a dazzling metallic green-blue lustre. When displaying, he raises his tail to show off the decorative eyespots, whilst emitting a long hissing sound and strutting around the female – who wouldn’t be impressed?!

A dazzling display

Superb bird-of-paradise photo

The male superb bird-of-paradise has one of the wackiest displays of all. He fully expands his spectacular breast shield and erects long, black feathers on the back of his neck to form a cape. The result is a complete circle of black, broken only by the iridescent breast shield feathers and eye spots – you can check out an amazing video here.

Have we missed any spectacular species? Get in touch using the form below and let us know!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher