Mohawks – or crests – have a functional role in birds. They generally help males attract and impress females during the breeding season, or serve for communication purposes. But it’s hard to deny that they also look stunning.
From punk hairdos to peculiar styles, check out these 37 amazing birds with mohawks.
- Palm Cockatoo
- White-Crested Hornbill
- Golden Pheasant
- Victoria Crowned Pigeon
- Amazonian Royal Flycatcher
- Great Curassow
- Gray Crowned Crane
- Temminck Tragopan
- Eurasian Hoopoe
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Tufted Titmouse
- Striated Heron
- Great Bowerbird
- White-Crested Turaco
- Red-Breasted Merganser
- Bare-Faced Go-Away-Bird
- Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
- Red-Whiskered Bulbul
- Dalmatian Pelican
- Crested Guineafowl
- Himalayan Monal
- Mandarin Duck
- White-Crested Helmetshrike
- Crested Partridge
- Houdan Chicken
- Northern Cardinal
- Steller’s Jay
- Philippine Eagle
- Blue Winged Kookaburra
- Long Wattled Umbrellabird
- Sultan Tit
- Secretary Bird
- Brahminy Starling
- Belted Kingfisher
- Shoebill Stork
1. Palm Cockatoo
Scientific name: Probosciger aterrimus
Strikingly beautiful, the palm or goliath cockatoo is one of the most stunning parrots with mohawks.
It is native to the northernmost region of Queensland, Australia, but it can be found in the wild as an introduced species in Indonesia and New Guinea.
In the wild, this cockatoo inhabits rainforests and woodlands. It is a social bird that lives in small groups and mates for life.
Despite its wild vein, the palm cockatoo can also make a good pet that can learn how to speak and a variety of tricks. It is often kept alongside cockatiels, which are another type of parrot with a mohawk.
2. White-Crested Hornbill
Scientific name: Horizocerus albocristatus
Also known as the long-tailed hornbill, this black and white bird with a mohawk is one of the most peculiar birds found in the humid forests of West and Central Africa.
Its most striking feature is undeniably the white mohawk – the ruffled feathers make this bird look like a grumpy old man.
Besides the unique look, white-crested hornbills also have unique vocalizations that make them easy to distinguish from other types of avifauna. Their call is an eagle-like wail with a raspy quality.
A related and equally impressive bird that gives off rock star vibes is the white-crowned hornbill (Berenicornis comatus), an endangered species native to Southeast Asia.
3. Golden Pheasant
Scientific name: Chrysolophus pictus
An absolute stunner, the golden pheasant is one of the most beautiful red birds with yellow mohawks. The puffy feather crown extends over the bird’s nape all the way to the shoulder blades, complementing the red chest, golden back, and orange beak.
Like most wild pheasant species, this bird also sports a stunning tail that gives it an overall majestic appearance.
This colorful bird is native to the mountainous areas of China, where it lives in open forests and woodlands.
4. Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Scientific name: Goura Victoria
One of the largest pigeon species, the Victoria crowned pigeon is a bluish-gray bird with a lace-like mohawk. In fact, it sports one of the most decorative crests from all bird types.
This ground-dwelling bird is native to New Guinea; the small commonwealth nation named the bird after the former British monarch Queen Victoria.
Besides the bright color, this pigeon’s signature feature is the stunning plumage decorating its head. A related bird is the western crowned pigeon, a vulnerable species native to and the official provincial bird of West Papua.
5. Amazonian Royal Flycatcher
Scientific name: Onychorhynchus coronatus
One of the smallest birds with mohawks, the Amazonian royal flycatcher is a passerine found throughout the Amazonian basin.
At first glance, it may not look all that interesting. From afar, its brown color is reminiscent of a sparrow.
However, all it takes is for males to want to attract females to display their stunning crests. According to research, crests are also displayed as a sign of aggression.
Amazonian royal flycatchers can be found in humid lowlands, both in primary evergreen and second-growth forests.
6. Great Curassow
Scientific name: Crax rubra
The great curassow is a beautiful black bird with mohawk and yellow beak native to South America. Its range extends from eastern Mexico to northwestern Ecuador and western Colombia.
This large, pheasant-like bird sports a curly crest and black feathers that cover most of its body, except for the white belly. Females have a mohawk too, but they are brown in color and have a striped brown and white tail.
Great curassows forage mainly on the ground for fruits and arthropods, but they feed occasionally on small vertebrates.
This vulnerable species is threatened by a decreasing population trend due to loss of habitat.
7. Gray Crowned Crane
Scientific name: Balearica regulorum
Every bit as majestic as their name suggests, gray crowned cranes are one of the most ancient crane species.
Together with their close relatives the black crowned cranes – that are very similar from a visual standpoint – the gray variety predates the other species by tens of millions of years.
Native to eastern and southern Africa, these large birds with mohawks can be found in mixed wetland and grassland habitats throughout South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.
They forage mostly on grass seeds and invertebrates, and are also known to trespass agricultural fields to forage on millet, potatoes, and soybeans.
Made famous by the striking crown made of stiff golden feathers, gray crowned cranes have been poached and illegally traded for years. These activities led to a reduction in their numbers, the species being now endangered.
8. Temminck Tragopan
Scientific name: Tragopan temminckii
Often regarded as the most beautiful species in the pheasant family, the temminck tragopan is found across South Asia, from southeast China and northwest Burma to Vietnam.
However, the species is also one of the rarest to spot in the wild. These birds are notoriously shy and typically nest in trees, where they hide among foliage.
The species is characterized by evident sexual dimorphism.
Females are dull gray and brown in color. In contrast, males are incredibly colorful, displaying bright orange chests, pale blue faces, and a fluffy black and orange crest.
They are one of the few species of birds with blue cheeks and mohawks.
9. Eurasian Hoopoe
Scientific name: Upupa epops
An orange bird with a mohawk, the Eurasian hoopoe is common all across its native range.
This bird can be found in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. It is known for its aggressive demeanor and long bill designed to dig insects out of tree hollows.
Eurasian hoopoes sport gorgeous crests that usually stay closed. However, the mohawk often unfurls just after landing on the ground, during mating rituals, and as a sign of aggression.
10. Pileated Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
Made famous by Disney’s Woody, the pileated woodpecker is one of the few woodpeckers with mohawks native to North America.
This insectivore inhabits the deciduous forests located between the Great Lakes in the United States and the boreal forests of Canada. It is also found in parts of the Pacific Coast, and is the largest woodpecker type extant on the continent.
The pileated in its name refers to the bright red mohawk that looks like a cap – translated from Latin, pileated means capped.
Pileated woodpeckers are very adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats. To do this, they can eat a variety of insects, berries, and plant materials, including poisonous plant materials.
11. Tufted Titmouse
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
A small gray bird with a mohawk, the tufted titmouse is a species of tit found southward of central and southern Texas.
This tiny songbird usually lives in deciduous forests. However, it can also be found in suburban areas and urban parks, and it can be a frequent visitor to feeders.
Tufted titmice are solitary birds that only gather in small flocks during the breeding season. They nest in dead tree hollows and other crevices dug by other birds.
The species’ dependence on dead wood is one of the reasons to allow dead trees to remain in the forests.
12. Striated Heron
Scientific name: Butorides striata
Small herons with mohawks, the striated herons are among the least obtrusive waterfowl in Australia. They live quietly among the mangrove forests and mudflats in the east, north, and west of the country, where they feed on small prey such as fish and crustaceans.
Like the Eurasian hoopoe, the striated heron keeps its crest closed most of the time. Nevertheless, the drooping crown can become a sight for sore eyes each time it’s on display.
Crest aside, telling striated herons from other heron types in Australia is easy. These birds adopt a hunched posture when foraging, with the head and neck drawn back into the heron’s body.
13. Great Bowerbird
Scientific name: Chlamydera nuchalis
The great bowerbird is a mid-sized gray bird with a purple mohawk native to Australia. It is a common and conspicuous resident in its native range, often easy to find near human habitations or in urban parks and public gardens.
The bird’s name is owed to its ability to build bowers. These nests are substantial structures built out of sticks and twigs and decorated with bones and stones in order to attract mates.
Appearance-wise, both sexes have gray-brown plumage with strakes on the wings and tails. Males also sport short but incredibly flashy crests that are a bright violet in color.
14. White-Crested Turaco
Scientific name: Tauraco leucolophus
Native to the riverine forests and woodlands between western Kenya and eastern Nigeria, the white-crested turaco is only one of the 23 turaco species.
All of them are robust birds with mohawks, but this turaco’s crest is one of the flashiest.
It stands out thanks to the pure white plumage that contrasts with the green mantle on the shoulders and purple plumage on the bird’s tail and body.
Like most turaco species, the white-crested turacos mostly eat fruits and berries, but also consume invertebrates and flowers.
Another stunning turaco species and Ivory Coast’s national bird is the white-cheeked turaco, which has a black mohawk.
15. Red-Breasted Merganser
Scientific name: Mergus serrator
A type of diving duck, the red-breasted merganser is one of the most beautiful types of waterfowl. Both males and females have long crests, the latter being some of the brown birds with mohawks.
Males are much more colorful, with iridescent black heads that look green in sunlight. They also have longer crests.
Red-breasted mergansers breed in the boreal forests on freshwater and saltwater woodlands, their range expanding from the Palearctic, Europe, and Greenland all the way to northern North America.
During winter, you may spot them parading around coastal waters and large inland lakes across the United States and Mexico.
16. Bare-Faced Go-Away-Bird
Scientific name: Crinifer personatus
A species of bird in the Musophagidae family, the bare-faced go-away-bird is a relative of turacos. In fact, the bird is very similar to its cousins in appearance, but it has duller colors.
This large bird is whitish-gray all over and has a black bare face; hence, its name.
This gray mohawk bird is native to the tropical regions of Africa, occurring in open woodlands and agricultural fields with scattered trees.
17. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
Scientific name: Rupicola peruvianus
A large passerine bird in the cotinga family, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is one of the most peculiar birds with a red mohawk.
Its oversized crest hides most of its face, including the beak. Thus, the bird often looks like a bundle of scarlet feathers with red-yellow eyes and black wings.
As its name suggests, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is native to the Andean region. It is primarily found in the mountains between Bolivia and Venezuela.
18. Red-Whiskered Bulbul
Scientific name: Pycnonotus jocosus
A small passerine bird, the red-whiskered bulbul is native to tropical Asia. Due, perhaps, to its size and docile nature, the red-whiskered bulbul was also introduced to North America as a pet.
Escaped or illegally released birds gave birth to invasive populations in Florida and Hawaii, where they can be found in suburban areas with exotic tree plantings.
While the bulbul doesn’t seem to compete with local bird species, it may be responsible for spreading invasive plant seeds, such as ivy gourd and false kava.
Red-whiskered bulbuls can also be found in pet shops and are some of the most common pet birds with mohawks.
19. Dalmatian Pelican
Scientific name: Pelecanus crispus
Known for its disheveled appearance, the Dalmatian pelican is an indigenous species in Europe and Asia, where it can be found in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and deltas.
This white bird with a mohawk is the largest pelican species. It is distinguished from other pelicans due to the absence of pink tones on its plumage and the presence of conspicuous curly feathers around the nape.
Unlike other pelicans, it also isn’t tied to lowland areas. It nests in wetlands at various elevations and migrates short distances in varying patterns, based on breeding habitat selection and feeding opportunities.
20. Crested Guinea Fowl
Scientific name: Guttera pucherani
A wild species in the guinea fowl family, the crested guinea fowl is a pheasant-like black and white bird with bushy mohawk.
It is primarily found in open forests, woodlands, and savanna-forest mosaics in sub-Saharan Africa.
Depending on subspecies, the crest can vary from small curly feathers to down. A very similar but distinct species is the plumed guinea fowl – the main difference between the two is the color of the bare skin on the nape and face.
Crested guinea fowl has a red face and indigo neck. Plumed guinea fowl has a teal face and vivid blue neck.
21. Himalayan Monal
Scientific name: Lophophorus impejanus
Also called Impeyan monal, the Himalayan monal is a pheasant with mohawk native to Himalayan forests and shrublands.
It is generally found at elevations over 6,900 feet, where it feeds on tubers, nuts, tender leaves, and invertebrates.
Sexual dimorphism makes it easy to distinguish between sexes. Males are brightly colored and sport a crown-like mohawk that is similar to a peacock’s crest. Females have a smaller crest and are a dull brown color.
22. Mandarin Duck
Scientific name: Aix galericulata
By far one of the most beautiful types of waterbirds, the Mandarin duck is native to Asia but it is present as an introduced species in Europe and the USA.
This unmistakable duck with a mohawk looks like a much more colorful wood duck. It lives in freshwater and wetland habitats, usually near forests.
The habitat preference is linked to its nesting habits. Surprisingly for a duck, this waterbird nests in tree hollows or high up on tree branches.
23. White-Crested Helmetshrike
Scientific name: Prionops plumatus
A small shrike with a white mohawk, the white-crested helmetshrike is a small passerine found in a variety of tropical and subtropical habitats in Africa.
This gregarious bird typically gathers in small flocks that can be spotted foraging on the ground or among leaves.
Like most shrikes, these birds are incredibly vocal. Their chit-chats can be heard from a distance as the birds move through their territory.
24. Crested Partridge
Scientific name: Rollulus rouloul
A near-threatened species, the crested partridge is a pheasant-like bird with a red mohawk. It is a resident breeder in lowland forests in the tropical parts of Asia, even though it is rarely spotted due to its shy nature.
This charming roll of a bird mostly forages on the forest floor, even though it can fly and likes to perch on low tree branches.
Sexual dimorphism is evident between sexes. Males have a spiky crest reminiscent of the punk era, metallic green cheeks, and glossy dark blue plumage on the rest of their bodies.
Females are also brightly colored, but green. Their crests are also green and smaller than males.
25. Houdan Chicken
Scientific name: Gallus gallus
A breed of domestic chicken with a mohawk, the Houdan chicken can turn some heads with its punky hairstyle.
It was developed in France and owes its name to its area of origin, the commune of Houdan. However, breed varieties are now present in various parts of the world.
Even though it can be raised for meat and eggs, most Houdan chickens today are bred for show or kept as pets.
Another domesticated bird known for its stylish mohawk is the crested duck (Anas platyrhynchos), a breed originally from the East Indies.
26. Northern Cardinal
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Widespread and abundant, the northern cardinal is one of the most common small red birds with red mohawks in North America.
Its native range spreads along the East Coast from Canada all the way to Mexico and Central America. Throughout its range, the species is a permanent resident, even though populations in the northern regions may migrate short distances in winter.
This small bird feeds mostly on seeds and insects and is opportunistic. Hence, it is often spotted in suburban backyards and town gardens, taking advantage of the suet in bird feeders.
27. Steller’s Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocitta stelleri
A native bird to western North and Central America, Steller’s jay is a close relative of the more common blue jays.
The two birds have strikingly similar appearances, but Steller’s jay has a more prominent crest.
Like blue jays, Steller’s jays use their crests during courtship or for aggressive interactions. Part of the corvid family, these birds are territorial and often hostile towards intruders.
Blue jays and Steller’s jays alike can be described as blue birds with mohawks.
Scientific name: Mergellus albellus
A small merganser native to Europe and Asia, the smew is one of the most spectacular wild ducks with a mohawk.
While females may not make jaws drop with their appearance, males are true head-turners with their geometric black stripes on the pure white plumage.
The prominent tuft of feathers on the male’s head plays a role in courtship, being displayed to attract females.
29. Philippine Eagle
Scientific name: Pithecophaga jefferyi
Known as the monkey-eating eagle, this funny-looking bird of prey with a mohawk has the demeanor of a rock star woken up from his slumber.
But despite the disheveled appearance, this shaggy bird is a dominant predator in its native habitat.
It can be found in the Philippine Islands, where it is the national bird, or admired in several zoos around the world.
Due to habitat loss, this critically endangered eagle is a rare sight in the wild.
30. Blue Winged Kookaburra
Scientific name: Dacelo leachii
Small but with an angry look, the blue winged kookaburra is the epitome of ruffled. It is characterized by a shaggy plumage, and is one of the birds with blue wings and mohawks.
This large species of kingfisher is native to Australia and southern New Guinea. It is sexually dimorphic, with a rufous tail with black bars in females and a blue tail in males.
In its habitat – the moister parts of Queensland – this bird feeds on a variety of fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and seasonal arthropods and insects.
31. Long Wattled Umbrellabird
Scientific name: Cephalopterus penduliger
One of the strangest black birds with mohawks, the long wattled umbrellabird is more famous for the males’ distinctive wattle of feathers around their necks than the erectile crests.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that they have a gorgeous, Elvis Presley-like hairstyle.
Native to the Pacific slopes of southeast Colombia and western Ecuador, the long wattled umbrellabird can be found in humid premontane forests and cloud forests. It feeds primarily on large fruits.
The crest and wattle are used for display during mating, as solitary females usually choose males with strong aggression and territorial behavior.
32. Sultan Tit
Scientific name: Melanochlora sultanea
An Asian forest bird with a yellow mohawk, the sultan tit is a small passerine characterized by coal black upper parts, yellow undersides, and a matching yellow crest.
A highly social inhabitant of lowland forests, the sultan tit tends to stick to the canopy and often joins mixed foraging flocks.
Like most songbirds, it is a very vocal species. Calls consist of repeated high-pitched whistles and squeaky shrills. A similar and related species is the yellow-cheeked tit.
33. Secretary Bird
Scientific name: Sagittarius serpentarius
A big bird with a mohawk and one of the largest birds in the world, the secretary bird is endemic to Africa. It is usually found in sub-Saharan regions, feeding on small vertebrates and other animals that they kill by trampling them with their strong legs.
Secretary birds are mostly terrestrial, using their large wings to intimidate intruders. Yet, despite their size, they can fly.
In fact, their nests are typically built atop thorny trees where they don’t have to worry too much about intruders or predators.
34. Brahminy Starling
Scientific name: Sturnia pagodarum
A spectacular starling with a mohawk, the Brahminy starling is a mid-sized bird native to the Indian subcontinent.
This passerine is typically found in scrub jungles and dry forests. Like all starlings, though, it is opportunistic and often takes advantage of agricultural fields where it feeds on fruits and insects, including bees.
Males and females are very similar and often difficult to tell apart. Overall, females are slightly duller in color and have shorter crests.
35. Belted Kingfisher
Scientific name: Megaceryle alcyon
Common along the streams and rivers of North America, the belted kingfisher is a conspicuous water bird with a mohawk.
This stocky bird sports a large, shaggy crest mostly used to display aggression. A peculiar trait is that the colors are brighter and the crest is bigger in females rather than males.
The only kingfisher in the majority of its range, the belted kingfisher can often be seen perched on trees, posts, and other suitable watch points close to water. Once it spots its prey, it plunges headfirst below the surface.
Scientific name: Opisthocomus hoazin
The only species in its order, the hoatzin is a large tropical bird with a mohawk. It is about the same size as a turaco, but it has a much more distinctive appearance.
This bird is native to the Orinoco Basin in South America. It inhabits the mangroves, swamps, and riparian forests, and feeds on fruits, flowers, and leaves.
Hoatzins are seasonal breeders in the rainy season, but are gregarious year-round. They nest in small colonies on high tree branches.
A distinctive feature in chicks is the presence of two claws on each wing, which the birds lose as adults. These claws and their oversized feet allow chicks to move on branches without falling.
37. Shoebill Stork
Scientific name: Balaeniceps rex
Storks are known for their bald heads, except for the shoebill variety which is a type of stork with a mohawk.
This peculiar long-legged bird derives its name from the unusual shape of the bill, used to successfully capture fish in shallow bodies of water.
Shoebill storks are distributed in the freshwater swamps throughout central Africa. Despite their name, they are more closely related to pelicans. However, they are non-migratory and display minimal seasonal movement.
In fact, these birds are noted for their generally limited movements and the ability to stay statue-like for long periods.
Beyond the crest’s functional role, all birds with mohawks are exceptionally good-looking. From species you can raise as pets to exclusively wild types that you can only admire in their native habitat, we hope this article can inspire your birdwatching bucket list.