16 birds with crested heads in [2024]

Have you ever watched the sky and seen a bird with a fancy hairdo gliding by? That’s not a rock star of the bird world; that’s a bird with a crested head. These creatures have styles that would make the best hair salons jealous. From the elegant to the downright punk rock, these birds rock crests for various reasons, including attracting mates and giving the stink-eye to rivals and predators.

Not all crests are created equal, though. While some birds puff up their crest feathers to show off or scare folks off, others have crests that stay put, lookin’ sharp without the need for a comb. These crests aren’t just for show. Nope, they serve up some serious purposes, like helping cuties find each other during mating season or offering a bit of insulation and protection from the world’s troubles.

And let’s talk about the diversity. The bird world’s got everything from the bright red mohawk of the Vermilion Flycatcher to the punk rock vibe of the Crested Auklet. Each species uses its crest in its unique way, often related to its way of life, where it calls home, and what it snacks on. We humans might go to the barber to stand out; these birds just wake up, shake their feathers, and they’re ready to rock.

Then there’s the social side of things. For some birds, having a fancy crest lets them communicate with others of their kind. A quick raise of the crest can be like a signal flag saying, “Yo, back off, this is my branch!” or “Hey there, good lookin’, how you doin’?” It’s all part of the complex social lives these feathered fellas have. So next time you’re bird watching and see a crested head, remember, you’re looking at nature’s finest in avian fashion and function.

Vermilion Flycatcher

If the birdie word of the day was “fierce,” the Vermilion Flycatcher would take the cake. Sporting a bright red and orange chest that screams “Look at me,” this little dude’s got style. It measures in at a pocket-size 5 inches in length but don’t let its size fool you. Found hanging around the Southwestern United States and Southern Mexico, this bird doesn’t mess around when it comes to protecting its turf.

With a diet that leans heavily on the side of mosquitoes, beetles, and other small flying critters, living near water is the Vermilion Flycatcher’s real estate strategy. But don’t think it’s all about the bugs. This tiny terror is known to be quite the contender, ready to defend its nest with a fierceness that would put bigger birds to shame. It’s like the little bird that could, proving that size isn’t everything.

Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse, with its snazzy gray crest and a square black patch like a tiny superhero mask, is something of a local celeb in suburbia and at the edges of woodlands. This bird knows its way around a backyard feeder, trucking away sunflower seeds with a gusto that’s entertaining to watch. If there was a bird version of “sneaking into the kitchen at night for a snack,” this would be it.

Year-round, you can catch their whistling “peter-peter-peter” tune, making the Tufted Titmouse the life of the party in bird terms. They enjoy a hearty mix of seeds and suet but aren’t too posh to turn down a chunk of plant material. Preferring the leafy suburbs and the edges where the woods start getting wild, these birds have chosen real estate wisely, making the most of what residential areas have to offer.

Steller’s Jay

Now, the Steller’s Jay is like the cool kid on the block with its shimmering blue feathers and bold blue-black crest – it’s got swagger. Mostly hanging out on the West Coast, these birds are not picky about their digs, choosing to settle anywhere from prairies with a few good trees to the dense embrace of coniferous forests. If it’s got shade and a place to chill during summer, the Steller’s Jay is down.

On the menu, we’ve got acorns, nuts, and the occasional insect or small rodent, proving that variety is indeed the spice of life. Steller’s Jays are some of the longest-lived birds in North America, clocking in at 10-15 years in the wild. That’s plenty of time to perfect their cool stance among the mixed woodlands they call home.

Tufted Puffin

The Tufted Puffin is the rockstar of the seabird world, rocking long yellow plumes like it’s going out of style. When breeding season hits, they strut their stuff with those bright beaks and white faces, making the rocky islands and coastlines of Western North America their stage. Spend most of their lives out in the open North Pacific, they only come ashore to put on a show and breed.

As for the buffet, small fish better watch out because these puffins dive deep, grabbing meals up to 360 feet below! And in the off-season? They’re not picky; bring on the squid, crustaceans, and other marine appetizers. Tufted Puffins lead a life of adventure, from their daring deep-sea dives to their choice in coastal real estate.


Talk about making a statement with your look – the Pyrrhuloxia sure knows how to stand out in its desert digs. Rocking a stylish red crest, red tails waving hello, and sporting a sunny yellow beak, this bird doesn’t skimp on the flair. The ladies might not be as flashy as the gents, but they’ve got enough red to not fade into the background. Living la vida loca in the southern United States and Mexico, these birds are all about desert life.

As for grub, it’s a mix-up of fruits, seeds, and the ever-popular insects making up their diet. Ever versatile, the Pyrrhuloxia doesn’t shy away from showing off its style, whether perched atop a mesquite bush or strutting around the scrublands. That face mask isn’t just for show, though; it’s part of their charm and helps make them one of the most eye-catching birds in their habitat.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, tiny but mighty, is like the hidden gem of the bird world with its flash of bright red crest. This little dynamo isn’t just about looks; it backs it up with an appetite for beetles, flies, ants –, if it bugs you, it feeds them. Preferring to live near life’s little oases like streams or ponds, they’ve got their dining and drinking spots sorted.

A bit on the secretive side, that ruby crest comes out to play mainly when they’re all worked up, either from excitement or if there’s trouble brewing. Seeds and berries also make the menu, proving once again that these birds know the importance of a balanced diet. The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet might be small, but it packs a punch with its vibrant personality and feisty spirit.

Pileated Woodpecker

If there was an award for “most likely to be mistaken for a cartoon character,” the Pileated Woodpecker would win, hands down. Sporting a bright red crest that would make any punk rocker jealous, this bird is all about the drum solo, hammering away at trees to find ants and beetle larvae. Found chillin’ in suburban areas and woodland edges across parts of North America, they’ve got the home range down to a science.

These woodpeckers show some serious commitment to their craft, leaving behind holes in trees that become the talk of the town. Yet, in doing so, they play a crucial role in their ecosystems, helping other critters find homes. Being the largest of the woodpecker species in the United States, the Pileated Woodpecker doesn’t just live life; it makes a statement while doing it.

Oak Titmouse

The Oak Titmouse might not be the flashiest bird on the block, but it sure knows how to work what it’s got. Covered in cool grayish-brown feathers and sporting a crest that pops up for communication, it’s got the whole mysterious vibe going on. Living the tree-hugger dream in dense forests across North America, this bird’s diet is a smorgasbord of seeds, nuts, and insects, with the occasional sweet sip of nectar.

They’re big on family, carving out holes in trees to cozy up and raise their young. Whether warning off would-be squatters or simply feeling a bit skittish, that crest acts like their personal signal flag. The Oak Titmouse may keep a low profile, but it’s got a big personality tucked under that modest exterior.

Black-Crested Titmouse

In the realm of birds with attitude, the Black-Crested Titmouse stands out with its stylish black crest popping against its gray suit. Rocking the woodlands, parks, and orchards of Texas and Northern Mexico, this bird knows how to pick prime real estate. The fashion statement extends to its diet, feasting on a mix of insects, berries, acorns, and seeds, showing it’s got taste.

Though their turf is somewhat limited, if you’re in their neighborhood, you’re in for a treat watching these titmice strut their stuff. With habitats that cater to their every need, from the dense canopies of oaks to the quiet of the suburbs, the Black-Crested Titmouse lives life to the fullest, proving that sometimes, it’s cool to be crested.

Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is like the king of crests, sporting the most eye-catching tufted crest around North America. This bird’s dress code is all about flair – males and females both know how to strut their stuff, but in their unique ways. The male’s crest is a real show-off with a neat white patch that pops against his black upperparts, looking slick with chestnut flanks and a belly that says, “Look at me.”

Now, the ladies, or the females, aren’t left behind in the style department. They’ve got this classy brown body with a softer crest, showing everyone that sophistication doesn’t scream for attention. Whether you’re admiring the males or females, these birds rock their tufted crest like a crown, making them a dapper sight to behold.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are pretty much the neighborhood’s loud party animals, decked out in stunning blue that would make any bird jealous. With wings and tails that flaunt black and white bars, these birds are the true fashionistas of the bird world. And let’s not forget their matching crest, which is like the cherry on top of a very extravagant ice cream sundae. Living life in woodlands, suburbs, you name it, Blue Jays are all about setting up their home where the party is at.

And these birds aren’t picky eaters. Give ’em seeds, insects, or even the occasional snack of eggs and small chicks, and they’re content. Want to make your yard the talk of the town among the Blue Jay community? Stock up those feeders with sunflower seeds, peanuts, and maybe a mix of safflower. It’s like sending out an open invitation to these colorful party-goers, ensuring your garden is the place to be.

Great Blue Heron

Ever seen a Great Blue Heron? Man, these birds are like the supermodels of the bird world – tall, slender, and grace on another level. Posted up by rivers and lakes, they stand so still you might mistake ’em for part of the scenery. But make no mistake, when it comes to dinner, they’re all business, snatching up fish, frogs, and whatever small creature happens to waltz into their danger zone. Their grayish-blue plumage topped off with a striking white head and black plumes – it’s like nature’s own masterpiece.

Seeing a Great Blue Heron in the wild, you can’t help but pause and admire. These birds have a way of standing out, whether perched silently by the water or soaring overhead with those wide wings. And let’s not forget, they’re locals here in the United States, and Canada, and even take trips down to Central America. A sight worth catching if you ever get the chance.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Alright, picture this – the Golden-Crowned Kinglet, one of the tiniest crest-wearing VIPs in the bird club. This little bird packs a punch with a bright yellow crown that screams royalty, all while rocking a sleek black-and-white striped look. Living the high life in coniferous forests, these birds are adventurers, scaling heights in swamps, and riversides, and even making pit stops in urban areas. It’s all about that high-altitude lifestyle.

Despite their small stature, don’t underestimate the Golden-Crowned Kinglet. They’re bustling with energy, tagging insects left and right to satisfy their appetite, and occasionally dabbling in seeds. Spotting one might take some effort, but hey, the best things come in small packages, right? And though these birds keep it cool in North America, they’re known to venture down to Mexico and Central America, because why not spread that golden crown goodness a bit further?

Double-Crested Cormorant

Double-crested cormorants are mysterious, sea-loving birds that prefer the water’s edge over garden visits. Cloaked entirely in black save for a striking orange face and those bright blue eyes, these birds carry a certain allure. And atop their head sits a small, yet distinct tuft of black feathers like a secret little crown they’re modest about. Mostly calling Florida home, especially for breeding season, these birds aren’t shy about joining other seabird communities, making the coastal life look effortlessly cool.

Their diet is like a deep dive into the seafood buffet – fish, crabs, shrimp, you name it. Even snakes occasionally find their way onto the menu, showing the Double-Crested Cormorant’s versatile palate. Living by rivers, lakes, and the sea, their lifestyle is all about embracing the aquatic, whether they’re diving for dinner or chilling in colonies with their fellow water bird.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara comes off like the rebel of the bird world, with a dress code that screams ‘bad to the bone.’ Sporting a shaggy crest atop its head, this bird rocks a black cap, instantly setting it apart from the crowd. And those yellow-orange legs and face? Only adds to its standout persona. Native to the expansive landscapes of South America, this bird has an attitude that matches its fierce appearance, both as a scavenger and a hunter. Whether it’s tearing into carrion or swooping down on unsuspecting prey, the Crested Caracara means business.

Unlike other birds that might squat in pre-made nests, the Crested Caracara is all about the DIY life, building its home from scratch like a true pioneer. Though it’s a rare sight in North America, spotting one is like finding a hidden gem. This bird doesn’t just survive; it thrives, showcasing its independence and strength in the open plains, commanding respect and admiration from those lucky enough to witness its majesty.

Crested Auklet

Picture this: the Crested Auklet, rocking a hairstyle any punk rocker would envy. With a crest that’s wearing a crown, this tiny, dumpy seabird owns the look. Sporting an extravagant tuft that drapes over its face during the breeding season, it’s hard not to be impressed. These birds call the harsh, unforgiving environments of the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean home, diving below the chill to snap up krill and other goodies from the depths. It’s not your everyday sight, giving these crested champs an air of mystery.

Looking to spot a Crested Auklet means gearing up for an adventure, as you’ll have to traverse to their breeding islands, rocky and secluded. But man, is it worth it? Seeing these birds in their natural habitat, with those white whiskers and pale eyes, it’s like stepping into a world far removed from the everyday. Catching a glimpse of this impressive bird, with its crest proudly displayed, is a reminder of the wild, untamed beauty that exists out there, waiting to be discovered.


Birds with tufted heads, they’re not just a sight to behold, they’re a testament to nature’s flair for the dramatic. From the stylish Hooded Merganser to the punk-rock vibes of the Crested Auklet, these birds rock their unique looks with an air of confidence that’s downright inspiring. It’s like each species got the memo on how to stand out, showcasing crests that range from the subtly stylish to the outrageously extravagant.

And hey, let’s not forget the importance of keeping their homes – our parks and gardens, and everywhere they grace with their presence – clean and safe. By understanding and appreciating the beauty of these feathered friends, particularly those native to North America and the wonders of selective breeding, we’re reminded of our role in their story. It’s about coexistence, respect, and maybe a bit of admiration for those tufted heads that bring a bit of extraordinary into our ordinary lives.

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