Birds come in a myriad of colors and color combinations, but there is something fascinating about the plumage of purple bird types.
No matter where your next trip is, keep an eye out for these amazing species:
- Purple Starling
- Purple Honeycreeper
- Purple Martin
- Violet Sabrewing
- Costa’s Hummingbird
- Crowned Woodnymph
- Purple Grenadier
- Purple-Crested Turaco
- American Purple Gallinule
- Violet-Backed Starling
- Indian Peacock
- Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
- Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch
- Purplish Jay
- Crested Quail-Dove
- Garnet Pitta
- Hartlaub’s Turaco
- Fork-Tailed Woodnymph
- Lilac-Breasted Roller
- Formosan Blue Magpie
- Purple Swamphen
- Purplish-Mantled Tanager
- Boat-Tailed Grackle
- Violaceous Euphonia
- Purple Finch
- Southern Carmine Bee-Eater
- Scrub Jay
- Black-Capped Kingfisher
- Barn Swallow
- Santa Cruz Ground Dove
- Shiny Cowbird
- Purple Breasted Cotinga
- Varied Bunting
- Purple Sunbird
- Western Violet-Backed Sunbird
- Common Scimitarbill
- Purple Cochoa
- Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo
- Purple-Crowned Fairy Wren
- Hildebrandt’s Starling
- Tricolored Heron
- Cape Glossy Starling
- Crinkle-Collared Manucode
Note: Purple birds in the list are not ranked in any particular order.
1. Purple Starling
Scientific name: Lamprotornis purpureus
Native to tropical Africa, the purple starling is a resident breeder in Senegal, Zaire, Sudan, and Kenya.
It is a stocky bird that sports a stunning plumage. Its feathers combine metallic shades of purple on the head and body with glossy green on the wings and hypnotic yellow eyes – no doubt, one of the most beautiful purple birds.
This common passerine is found in open woodlands and near agricultural fields.
2. Purple Honeycreeper
Scientific name: Cyanerpes caeruleus
This small neotropical bird with purple feathers can be found all over the New World, from Colombia and Venezuela all the way to Brazil and even Trinidad.
As its name suggests, this bird feeds mostly on nectar, but also on berries, fruits, and insects. It can be spotted in woodlands and gardens alike.
3. Purple Martin
Scientific name: Progne subis
One of the most beautiful North American purple birds, the purple martin inhabits open areas and can be found in agricultural fields and meadows.
In summer, its habitat stretches from British Columbia to Mexico. Long-distance migrations can be observed in winter, when purple martins can be spotted as far south as Ecuador and the Andean foothills.
This isn’t surprising considering their diets consist mostly of insects and bees.
Males have iridescent purplish-black plumage, lighter on the head, back, and chest, and darker on the wings and tail. Females are duller in color but their heads, wings, and backs are still a gorgeous lilac shade.
4. Violet Sabrewing
Scientific name: Campylopterus hemileucurus
A gorgeous type of purple hummingbird, the violet sabrewing is found in the montane forests and ravines from southern Mexico to western Panama.
It is famous as one of the largest hummingbirds worldwide, surpassed only by the giant hummingbird.
Another characteristic that makes it famous is the stunning plumage, the iridescent violet covering most of the bird’s body. The wings are greenish in color, while the tails are white.
Like other hummingbird species, the violet sabrewing survives almost exclusively on nectar. These birds favor heliconia and banana flowers.
5. Costa’s Hummingbird
Scientific name: Calypte costae
A lot less purple overall than the violet sabrewing, Costa’s hummingbird stands out thanks to the bright purple head and neck. The rest of the plumage is green and white, and only the males have purple feathers.
Nevertheless, this is still one of the most beautiful green and purple birds, and one of the few hummingbird species in Texas, Arizona, and California.
The bird lives in arid areas where it visits native desert plants such as agaves, fairy-dusters, and desert honeysuckles. A similar but unrelated hummingbird is the purple-throated woodstar.
6. Crowned Woodnymph
Scientific name: Thalurania colombica
Often described as a small purple bird, the crowned woodnymph is another type of hummingbird that delights the eye with its purple and green plumage that seems to change color based on the light.
However, it prefers more fertile habitats than Costa’s hummingbird. In fact, it inhabits the lush evergreen forests of Northern Colombia. It can also be found at the edge of tropical lowlands, usually near streams.
Crowned woodnymphs feed on the nectar of many flowering plants and also eat small arthropods.
7. Purple Grenadier
Scientific name: Granatina ianthinogaster
Found in tropical and subtropical lowlands, the purple grenadier is a common passerine in Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, and South Sudan. It can also be found in Kenya and Ethiopia.
With colors mixing with those of the dry shrublands it inhabits, the purple grenadier has a cinnamon-colored head, purple-blue rump, violet underparts, and a red-orange beak.
One of the most beautiful types of finches, it is one of the wild purple birds that does well in captivity.
8. Purple-Crested Turaco
Scientific name: Gallirex porphyreolophus
A notorious fruit-eater, the purple-crested turaco is one of the largest purple birds in South Africa.
It has an essential role in its native habitat, carrying cycad seeds for long distances, from the feeding to the nesting sites. Hence, contributing to the habitat’s biodiversity.
The bird owes its name to the purple-colored crest, while various shades of purplish blue and violet also blend with green and washed pink on the rest of its body.
9. American Purple Gallinule
Scientific name: Porphyrio martinicus
One of the most beautiful purple birds in Florida, the American purple gallinule has a widespread habitat.
It can be found in the Sunshine State, but also in all other southeastern states of the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of Central America. On rare occasions, they’ve even been found in Europe.
This type of waterfowl inhabits the wetlands, above all the shallow margins of lakes, rivers, and marshes.
Despite their close connection with the water, they are omnivorous ground feeders. Their diet consists of a great variety of native plants and animal matter.
10. Violet-Backed Starling
Scientific name: Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
A bird of many names, the violet-backed starling is also known as the amethyst starling or plum-colored starling due to the bright purple head and upper sides. No matter what you call it, this is one of the most stunning purple birds in Africa.
Violet-backed starlings inhabit the sub-Saharan regions and are mostly found in gallery forests and open woodlands. Their diet consists mostly of fruits and insects, which they hawk for in a manner similar to flycatchers.
This is also one of the most sexually dimorphic species, with the dull brown females looking nothing like their male counterparts.
11. Indian Peacock
Scientific name: Pavo cristatus
The national bird of India, the Indian peacock is one of the most spectacular purple birds with long tails. It is found in India and Sri Lanka, and is related to the Javanese peacock (found in Myanmar and Java) which is green.
Due to its gorgeous colors and highly decorative plumage, the Indian peacock is mostly kept as an ornamental bird, but it is also common in the wild in its native habitat.
12. Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
Scientific name: Terpsiphone atrocaudata
Native to southern Asia, the Japanese paradise flycatcher is a small purple passerine bird covered in purplish-black feathers on the back. The chest and undersides are grayish-black.
In its native habitat, this bird can be found in shady deciduous and evergreen forests. Its breeding range stretches from Japan to the far north of the Philippines. However, the species is only a non-breeding visitor in China.
As its name suggests, this flycatcher feeds on a variety of flies and other insects.
13. Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch
Scientific name: Sitta frontalis
Another small purple bird from Asia, the velvet-fronted nuthatch is a passerine mostly found in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Like other nuthatches, it feeds on insects dug out from the bark of trees. Hence, they inhabit forested areas with good tree covers.
This bird with orange bill has lavender cheeks, blue-violet upper parts, and beige undersides. These characteristics make it easy to tell it apart from other nuthatches, as it is often part of mixed-species foraging flocks.
14. Purplish Jay
Scientific name: Cyanocorax cyanomelas
A member of the Corvidae family, the purplish jay is one of the biggest species of purple birds in Amazonia. Its natural habitat stretches from the Amazonian basin to the lush tropical forests of southeastern Peru and Paraguay.
The bird is bluish-purple with a black mask, which are distinctive traits between it and the violaceous jay.
These birds forage in small groups and feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates. In Canada and eastern North America, the purplish jay’s counterpart, the blue jay, is equally stunning but blue in color.
15. Crested Quail-Dove
Scientific name: Geotrygon versicolor
Endemic to Jamaica, the crested quail-dove is a plump, ground-dwelling bird that inhabits the moist forests in mountains and foothills.
Its name is owed to the interesting crest that ends right above the nape of the neck.
This dove is covered in mostly gray plumage with a strong purple iridescence on the upper parts. It is one of the most common purple birds in Jamaica.
16. Garnet Pitta
Scientific name: Erythropitta granatina
One of the rarest purple birds to spot – due to its shy nature – the garnet pitta is a tiny passerine found in Asia.
Its geographic range spans from Brunei to Thailand. It favors tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, where its insects of choice are abundant.
Once abundant in nature, the species is now near-threatened due to loss of habitat.
17. Hartlaub’s Turaco
Scientific name: Tauraco hartlaubi
Very similar in appearance to the purple-crested turaco, the Hartlaub’s turaco is a mid-sized purple bird endemic to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
It is primarily a fructivore. The bird climbs easily from branch to branch in search of fruits, which is why it is often hidden in the foliage of tree canopies.
This shy but gregarious species prefers mountainous evergreen forests. It can be found at high altitudes between 4,900 and 10,400 feet.
18. Fork-Tailed Woodnymph
Scientific name: Thalurania furcata
Found in every mainland of South America, except for Chile and Uruguay, the fork-tailed woodnymph is a common hummingbird species and one of the smallest purple birds in the world.
Its natural habitats vary from tropical and subtropical moist forests to heavily degraded former forests and everything in between. That’s because this hummingbird isn’t at all fuzzy, drinking nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
The fork-tailed woodnymph has green and purple plumage similar to Costa’s hummingbirds and crown woodnymphs.
19. Lilac-Breasted Roller
Scientific name: Coracias caudatus
One of the most multicolored purple birds, the lilac-breasted roller is a sight to spot all over southern and eastern Africa.
In fact, it is widely distributed in its natural habitat. It prefers open woodlands and forests, where it lives on its own or, once mated, in pairs.
Due to its stunning plumage, the lilac-breasted roller is also kept in captivity. If you plan to keep one, know that you’ll have to catch lots of insects – such as grasshoppers – for it.
20. Formosan Blue Magpie
Scientific name: Urocissa caerulea
An endemic bird of Taiwan, the Formosan blue magpie is one of the few purple magpie species and among the most stunning ones.
Noisy and ferocious, it is an opportunistic omnivore that feeds on fruits and preys on anything from large insects to small birds and reptiles.
Like most Covridae species, it lives in small groups and inhabits hillsides and lower-altitude forests.
21. Purple Swamphen
Scientific name: Porphyrio porphyrio
One of the most widespread purple birds in the world, the purple swamphen is native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
In New Zealand, it is one of the most successful bird species thanks to its appropriate responses to terrestrial predators.
As its name suggests, this bird prefers freshwater and brackish wetland habitats. Yet, it feeds mostly on land, on plant matter and small prey.
22. Purplish-Mantled Tanager
Scientific name: Iridosornis porphyrocephalus
The purplish-mantled tanager is a tropical purple bird that has moist forests as its main showground. It is native to Colombia and Ecuador, and is one of the many bird species threatened by the loss of habitat.
On the rare occasions it can be spotted, this small bird impresses with its bright yellow throat and purple body. The color is more intense on the head, chest, and nape, fading to a purplish-gray on the back and belly.
Like the velvet-fronted nuthatch, the purplish-mantled tanager feeds on an omnivore diet and often joins mixed foraging flocks.
23. Boat-Tailed Grackle
Scientific name: Quiscalus major
A type of blackbird, the boat-tailed grackle is one of the dark purple birds in Florida. It is also found in other coastal areas and saltwater marshes.
The plumage isn’t true purple. Instead, the bird is entirely iridescent black that shines a bluish-purple in the sunlight. Which is why it is also described as a blackbird with a blue head.
Not at all shy, the boat-tailed grackle takes advantage of all food sources. It is often found foraging in parking lots, trash bins, and dumpsters.
24. Violaceous Euphonia
Scientific name: Euphonia violacea
A true finch native to South America and a resident breeder in the southern Caribbean Islands, the violaceous euphonia is one of the most beautiful yellow and purple birds.
Its body is divided in two almost perfect halves. The uppers side is purple with a yellow mask around the eyes. The undersides are a bright yellow.
Three other similar species include purple-throated, golden-rumped, and chestnut-bellied euphonias.
25. Purple Finch
Scientific name: Haemorhous purpureus
A small pink and purple bird – but with colors that can vary from reddish to purplish-orange – the purple finch is a common resident in the northern and eastern areas of the US, alongside the Pacific Coast.
Its habitat consists in a mixture of open and semi-open areas, including the suburbs. However, it breeds almost exclusively in forests.
This small finch feeds mainly on seeds, especially during winter. In summer, it also eats small fruits, berries, and some insects.
26. Southern Carmine Bee-Eater
Scientific name: Merops nubicoides
Mostly carmine red and pink, but with purplish-teal splashes on the head, tail, and rump, the southern carmine bee-eater is a common purple bird in sub-equatorial Africa.
This species occurs from Namibia to Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a migratory bird that spends the breeding season in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Primarily a carnivore, it feeds on insects and bees. As such, these bee-eaters are often found perched on the backs of large animals or spotted circling cars, catching the insects that are trying to escape the path of the moving vehicle.
27. Scrub Jay
Scientific name: Aphelocoma coerulescens
One of the purple birds in western North America, the scrub jay can be found in almost all wild habitats from British Columbia to western Nevada and throughout California.
At first glance, it may be mistaken for a blue jay. However, scrub jays are a different species that’s easy to identify thanks to the bluish-purple hue on their heads and backs – blue jays are a more intense blue color.
That said, the two birds have similar behavior and feed on a similar diet, consisting of eggs, insects, small vertebrates, and plant materials.
28. Black-Capped Kingfisher
Scientific name: Halcyon pileata
There are lots of purplish-blue kingfishers, but the black-capped species can easily stand out. These birds are characterized by a striking contrast between the long orange beak, black head, light brown undersides, and purple-blue back.
The kingfisher is native to China, Korea, and Japan. Some populations winter in India and throughout southeast Asia.
Black-capped kingfisher’s main habitat consists of mangroves, coastal areas, and wetlands where its food of choice – fish and insects – is abundant.
29. Barn Swallow
Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
One of the most common purple landbirds in the world, the barn swallow is a migratory species that inhabits open forests and grasslands.
In North America, its breeding range spans from Canada to the southernmost areas of the United States. However, it only lives year-round in Central America.
This small passerine is omnivore and opportunistic. Installing a bird feeder or leaving out a tray of seeds will likely attract it to your backyard.
30. Santa Cruz Ground Dove
Scientific name: Pampusana sanctaecrucis
Doves and pigeons often have bluish-purple iridescent feathers, and the Santa Cruz ground dove is no exception. What makes it special is the fact that it’s one of the few brown and purple birds in the family.
This small and plump ground-dweller is only found in the Solomon (Santa Cruz) Islands – hence, its name.
Its diet consists of berries and seeds, which is why it only forages on the ground. Nevertheless, it perches on low branches and typically roosts in trees. Sightings are rare though, as the species is endangered.
31. Shiny Cowbird
Scientific name: Molothrus bonariensis
A New World purple bird, the shiny cowbird is similar to the boat-tailed grackle in that it is not truly purple, but black.
Nevertheless, the iridescent feathers shine purple in sunlight and are perfectly glossy from head to tail.
A peculiarity of the species is that shiny cowbirds rarely forage in the morning. Instead, they mostly forage in small flocks in the afternoon.
32. Purple Breasted Cotinga
Scientific name: Cotinga cotinga
A stunning blue and purple bird, the purple breasted cotinga is found all over South America. Its natural habitat consists of tropical moist lowland forests.
It is one of the smallest cotinga species, as well as the least well known. Not only is there a lot to be discovered about it, but sightings are also rare.
Similar cotinga species, but much bluer in color, include the blue cotinga, plum-throated cotinga, and the spangled cotinga.
33. Varied Bunting
Scientific name: Passerina versicolor
The varied bunting is one of the most common purple birds in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, even though its range stretches as far as Oaxaca, Mexico.
This small passerine bird is similar to a cardinal but has purple plumage in shades ranging from lavender to plum.
Varied bunting are omnivores and typically forage on the ground. Their favorite diet consists of seeds, fruits, and insects.
34. Purple Sunbird
Scientific name: Cinnyris asiaticus
Similar to blackbirds, the purple sunbird owes its name to the males’ iridescent plumage that shines in shades of purple even if it is essentially black.
Females are brown with yellow underside and often seem like they belong to a completely different species.
These tiny purple birds can be found in South and Southeast Asia, their natural range extending east into the Arabian Peninsula.
35. Western Violet-Backed Sunbird
Scientific name: Anthreptes longuemarei
Another type of purple sunbird, the western violet-backed sunbird is native to Africa. It is mainly found in the mainland sub-Saharan Africa in habitats that aren’t inhabited by any other members of the super-species.
Here, the bird spends most of its time perched on trees or catching insects, including butterflies and bees.
Sexual dimorphism is present, but both males and females have purple feathers on the head and back. The female colors are much duller, though, often tending to tawny-brown.
36. Common Scimitarbill
Scientific name: Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
A common bird in the top half of southern Africa, the common scimitarbill is one of the most fascinating purple and black birds.
This species, too, is mostly black with purple iridescence. The striking part is the long, decurved bill used for digging out larvae and insects from tree hollows and bark crevices.
These birds are typically easy to spot in wooded savannas, dry thornbush country, and occasionally in thicker woodlands.
37. Purple Cochoa
Scientific name: Cochoa purpurea
A purplish-black bird, the purple cochoa inhabits the temperate forests across Asia. It is brightly colored, but its plumage is matte.
For this reason, it can appear grayish-black at a first glance. However, at a closer look, the purplish undertones become visible. Males also have purplish-gray wing secondaries.
These birds are not very active and mostly found in areas with dense canopies. Similar subspecies with purple plumage include the Sumatran and Javan cochoas.
38. Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo
Scientific name: Neomorphus geoffroyi
Not the purplish of birds but a purple bird nonetheless, the rufous-vented ground cuckoo is a beautiful but rarely encountered species.
It is patchily distributed from Brazil to Honduras and vulnerable in its own habitat.
This bird is almost exclusively terrestrial, although it does sometimes fly on low branches to escape predators. The carnivorous bird feeds on insects, arthropods, and small vertebrates – including small birds.
39. Purple-Crowned Fairy Wren
Scientific name: Malurus coronatus
A purple headed bird, the purple-crowned fairy wren owes its name to the bright patch on its head. The rest of the bird is mostly tawny, except for a bright teal-colored tail.
Its native habitat is the dry-wet tropics of Northern Australia, but it can also be found in the Kimberly and Victoria River regions.
This tiny bird is a cooperative breeder and lives in sedentary groups. It is also socially monogamous with lower patterns of sexual promiscuity compared to other wren species.
40. Hildebrandt’s Starling
Scientific name: Lamprotornis hildebrandti
One of the most beautiful brown and greenish-purple birds, the Hildebrandt’s starling occurs naturally in south-central Kenya and north Tanzania.
Its natural habitat is made up of open woodlands and thornbush country, mostly at elevated altitudes between 1,600 and 7,200 feet.
Like most birds in the Sturnidae family, it is primarily carnivorous. It feeds on insects, including grasshoppers and bees, and it often joins mixed foraging flocks.
41. Tricolored Heron
Scientific name: Egretta tricolor
A stunning purple heron, the tricolored heron mixes pastel shades of lavender, white, and blue-grey. A white stripe along the sinuous neck and a white belly also set it apart from other herons.
Native to the coastal parts of the Americas, including the northeastern United States and through the Gulf of Mexico, this heron is easy to spot in coastal estuaries, lagoons, saltmarshes, and mangroves.
Similar to all other herons, it mostly feeds on fish and crustaceans, but it also eats amphibians and insects.
42. Cape Glossy Starling
Scientific name: Lamprotornis nitens
Also known as red-shouldered glossy starling due to small red spots on the shoulders, the cape glossy starling is mainly a green-bluish purple starling characterized by metallic colors on its plumage.
The color palette combines various shades of metallic blue, purple, and green. However, the actual color of any individual is hard to tell, as it changes based on light reflections.
Cape glossy starlings are found in Southern Africa, primarily in woodlands and rural and suburban areas.
43. Crinkle-Collared Manucode
Scientific name: Manucodia chalybatus
The crinkle-collared manucode inhabits the lowlands and hill forests of the Misool Island of West Papua and New Guinea mainland, where it thrives alongside other birds of paradise species.
Throughout its habitat range, this passerine is common and widespread. It mostly feeds on fruits and figs, even though it occasionally eats insects, too. Males and females are similar, sporting iridescent black plumage with purple notes on the wings.
Another gorgeous species of purple birds of paradise, the trumpet manucode, inhabits the same geographic range.