17+ Amazing Birds With Green Heads (Photos+Fun Facts)

Green is a soothing color, associated with nature, calmness, and peace. That’s why seeing a bird with a green head can instantly improve your day and inspire harmony and growth in you. 

The list of green-headed birds includes the well-known mallard, green-headed tanager, green kingfisher, the beautiful guinea turaco, several species of quetzal, and many others.

Here is the list of the top 17 birds with green heads.


1. Common Grackle

common grackle on a tree

Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Lifespan: 17-22 years
Wingspan: 14-18 in
Head Color: Sheen blue-green
Found In: North America

The common grackle, the most famous of the birds with green heads, is a medium-sized songbird found in large numbers throughout North America. 

It is easy to recognize by its long, keel-shaped tail, dark beak, yellow eyes, and (in males) glossy black plumage with a sheen blue-green head color. 

Common grackles have a population of over 70 million individuals and can be found in wet, open woodlands, marshes, as well as suburbs, parks, and agricultural fields. 

They are short-distance migrants that breed across North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

Common grackles are omnivores and feed on insects, minnows, frogs, eggs, berries, seeds, and grain.

They will let ants crawl up their bodies and clean them from parasites. If no ants are available, grackles will use lemons, walnut juice, and mothballs for that purpose.

In several US countries, including Texas, it is illegal to kill grackles.


2. Guinea Turaco

guinea green turaco

Scientific name: Tauraco persa
Lifespan: 5-9 years in the wild
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Grass green
Found In: West and Central Africa

Also known as the green turaco, the Guinea turaco is a medium-sized green bird with a long tail, tall crest on top of its grass-green head, red eyes, and a red bill. It is found in forests of West and Central Africa with pairs maintaining a territory year-round. 

They are the only birds that have a true green color. In most birds, green color is produced by the reflection of light; turacos have a green pigment (turacoverdin) that contains copper. 

These birds are monogamous and highly territorial. Green turaco male will feed the female to seduce her and together they build the nest and take care of the chicks – other members of the flock will also help.

They do not fly very well and prefer to climb from branch to branch.

Guinea turacos are omnivores, feeding on fruit, flowers, leaves, termites, seed pods, acacia, figs, and snails.


3. Green Kingfisher

green kingfisher
Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes from Goiânia, BrazilCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Chloroceryle americana
Lifespan: up to 5 years
Wingspan: 12 in
Head Color: Glossy green
Found In: North, Central, and South America

Always found near water, the green kingfisher has a dark glossy green plumage, white throat, collar, and spots on wings. It often keeps its tail cocked up and uses its long beak to fish and make its nest on the ground.

The green kingfisher has a huge territory and is mostly found in South America (down to Patagonia) and some parts of the USA, in southern Arizona and Texas. Scientists estimate that it has a global range of over 6 million square miles. 

Green kingfishers have two forward-facing, partially fused toes. They will use this toe arrangement called “syndactyl” as a shovel to push the soil out as they build their nest burrows. 

Green kingfishers are carnivores that feed on fish, mostly on minnows and other small fish, occasionally some insects.

A group of green kingfishers is called a “clique” or a “concentration”.


4. Paradise Tanager

paradise tanager
Kaldari, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Tangara chilensis
Lifespan: up to 14 years
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Bright apple-green
Found In: Northern South America

Paradise tanager is a medium-sized, stunningly multicolored songbird that has a light green head, sky blue underparts, and black upper body plumage. Males and females look alike; the males tend to sing more often.

It is one of the most interesting birds with green heads that is native to northern South America (Amazon rainforest). Paradise tanager can be often seen high in the canopy of the humid forest, often in flocks of mixed species. 

This bird is omnivorous and feeds on a range of fruits, nectar, berries, and insects.


5. Mallard

mallard duck in a lake

Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Wingspan: 32-37.4 in
Head Color: Dark iridescent-green in males
Found In: North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa

Mallard is a large duck and the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds. It can be found near shallow ponds and lakes

They are easy to recognize as males have dark green heads and white collars. Females and juveniles have a mottled brown plumage with orange-brown bills.

Females make a duck-like quack, males do not. Instead, males produce deeper, raspier one and two-note calls or rattling sounds by rubbing their bills against their flight feathers.

A male Mallard is called a drake and the female is a hen. Mallards fly fast and swim well – they have a 3 ft wide wingspan and can reach a top speed of 70 mph!

They are omnivorous and eat plants and small fish, insects, frogs, and fish eggs.

Read More: Do Ducks Have Knees?


6. Resplendent Quetzal

resplendent quetzal

Scientific name: Pharomachrus mocinno
Lifespan: 20-25 years
Wingspan: 15.7 in
Head Color: Metallic green
Found In: Mexico and Central America

The resplendent quetzal is a small bird found in southern Mexico and Central America. The name “resplendent” perfectly suits this vibrantly colored bird – the word means “attractive and impressive through being richly colorful or sumptuous”. The word “quetzal” means sacred, erected, or precious.

Talking about the appearance, the resplendent quetzal has a shaggy green crest on its head, a red breast and belly, and metallic green plumage that can shine in different variations: green, cobalt, lime, and blue-violet. The long wispy tail feathers extend twice the length of the bird.

These beautiful birds live in the mountainous, tropical forests of Central America where they feed on fruit, insects, lizards, and other small creatures.

Resplendent Quetzals are territorial and monogamous birds but will spend time alone during the non-breeding season. 

The resplendent quetzal is a national bird of Guatemala and Aztecs and Mayas used its feathers as currency.


7. Ring-necked Pheasant

ring necked pheasant

Scientific name: Phasianus colchicus
Lifespan: 3 years in the wild
Wingspan: 22-34 in
Head Color: Green
Found In: North America, Asia, Europe

This large, chicken-like bird with a long, pointed tail, long legs, and neck was introduced to the USA from Eurasia for game hunting.

Ring-necked pheasants are one of the birds with green heads that can be seen striding across open fields and weedy roadsides in the U.S. and southern Canada.

Read More: 5 types of loons commonly found in Canada

They are easy to identify by their red faces, iridescent green heads, and bold white rings around their necks. To remove dirt, parasites, and old feathers, ring-necked pheasants will often take dust baths. 

They are also known for “harem-defense polygyny,” where one male keeps other males away from a small harem of females during the breeding season.

During spring and summer, they will feed on insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, other invertebrates, and some fresh greenery. In fall and winter, they switch to seeds, grasses, roots, fruit, nuts, leaves, and insects when they find them.

The Ring-necked pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota.


8. Emerald Toucanet

emerald toucanet

Scientific name: Aulacorhynchus prasinus
Lifespan: 20 years
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Emerald green
Found In: Mexico and Central America

This medium-sized, grass-green toucan can be found in pairs or small groups in mountainous regions of Mexico and Central America. The emerald toucanet has a large beak, yellow on the upper, and black on the lower mandible.

Despite its bright plumage, the bird has excellent camouflage – the emerald green color blends in perfectly with the forest canopy foliage. While foraging they are known to communicate with each other through a wide variety of vocal cues. 

The Emerald toucanet is a very active bird, covering large amounts of territory every day. It is primarily an arboreal fruit-eater, but will also take insects, lizards, and eggs.

Read More: 15+ green birds found in Florida


9. Green-headed Tanager

green headed tanager
Naturalis Biodiversity Center , CC0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Tangara seledon
Lifespan: n/a
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color:  Bright aquamarine-green
Found In: South America

The green-headed tanager is a brightly colored bird found in the humid Atlantic forest of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It is a small bird with a bright aquamarine-green head, nape, chin, and breast, a lime green neck patch, wings, belly, and an orange rump. 

Females look like males but are slightly duller.

The green-headed tanagers are monogamous birds where a male might feed a female during the courtship ritual. Both the male and the female will get involved in nest-building, egg-laying, and incubation.

These omnivorous birds mostly feed on fruit, some seeds, and insects.


10. Javan Green Magpie

javan green magpie

Scientific name: Cissa thalassina
Lifespan: n/a
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Bright green
Found In: Indonesian island of Java

This brightly colored songbird is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful birds with green heads, but also the most endangered, with a population of less than 50 mature individuals in existence today.

The Javan green magpie, as the name suggests, is native to montane forests on the Indonesian island of Java. Although born blue, these birds will turn apple green after their first molting due to a pigment in their diet called lutein.

Studies have shown that the vibrant, green feathers of the Javan magpie are important for attracting a mate for successful breeding. Also, during the mating display, they will raise their black masks. 

They are carnivores that feed on insects, small lizards, and frogs.


11. Violet-green Swallow

violet green swallow

Scientific name: Tachycineta thalassina
Lifespan: 6 years
Wingspan: 10.6 in
Head Color: Dark metallic green
Found In: North America

Violet-green swallows are small North American birds with green heads that perform acrobatic stunts over lakes and streams high in the sky, in search of flying insects. 

They are easy to recognize by white faces in adult males, turquoise metallic green upperparts, and purple rumps in good light. A common sight in the West during spring and summer, violet-green sparrows move to Mexico and Central America for the winter.

Violet-green swallows are secondary cavity nesters – they take advantage of abandoned cavities in various habitats, including open forests, mountains, and towns.

The best places to find these birds are rivers, ponds, or lakes early in the morning. Look for them flying over water, swooping and snatching insects. Violet-green swallows can be found in large groups of 10 to 100, together with other swifts and swallows.

The recorded top speed of these sparrows is 28 mph –  as a comparison, the fastest bird of prey, the peregrine falcon, has an average speed of 25–35 mph.


12. Red-winged Parrot

red winged parrot

Scientific name: Aprosmictus erythropterus
Lifespan: 30-50 years
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Bright green
Found In: Australia and New Guinea

An absolutely charming parrot found in grasslands, savannah, farmland, and woodland of Australia and New Guinea. The red-winged parrot has a bright green head and neck, black upper back and scapulars, and red shoulder patches. The beak is orange.

As part of their mating ritual, males will circle in a seductive dance around the female, land next to her, and attempt to impress her by flashing their blue rumps.

Red-winged Parrots are omnivores that feed on seeds, nectar, pollen and blossoms, insects, and larvae.


13. Kereru

green headed kereru

Scientific name: Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
Lifespan: 10-20 years
Wingspan: 20 in
Head Color: Irridescent green and bronze
Found In: New Zealand

This one of the largest species of pigeon is native to New Zealand. The kererū or New Zealand pigeon has a reputation as one of the drunkest birds that have been known to fall from trees after consuming rotting fruit left lying on the ground.

Kereru has a relatively small head, a straight red beak, and a puffed-out breast. The belly is white, the feet are red, and the head, throat, and back are metallic green.

These birds are important for New Zealand’s nature as they are the only native bird that can eat and spread the seeds of over 70 native forest plants, including taraire and karaka.

It was named bird of the year in 2018 in New Zealand and in 2019 an exoplanet (HD 137388 b) was renamed Kererū in its honor.

Read More: 15+ beautiful birds with red necks


14. Green-crowned Woodnymph

green crowned woodnymph
Michael WoodruffCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Thalurania fannyi
Lifespan: n/a
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Bright green
Found In: South America

This South American hummingbird can be found in evergreen forests and the edge of tropical lowlands, often near streams. 

The male green-crowned woodnymph has a green plumage above with an iridescent green head, throat, and breast. The underparts are deep iridescent blue and the tail is dark blue and deeply forked (check our list of other birds with forked tails).

These birds found in Belize and Guatemala to northern Peru, mostly feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs, and epiphytes.

Green-crowned woodnymphs are polygynous and a male may mate with several females; the female will do the same with several males. Males will not participate in choosing the nest location, building the nest, or raising the chicks.


15. Malachite Sunbird

malachite sunbird

Scientific name: Nectarinia famosa
Lifespan: up to 14 years in the wild
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Metallic green
Found In: South Africa

Malachite sunbirds are small nectarivorous birds with metallic green heads and black-green wings with small yellow pectoral patches.

When breeding, malachites can be found in pairs; otherwise, they are usually solitary. Males are aggressive to birds of the same species and other sunbirds.

Like most sunbirds, malachite sunbirds are omnivores that mainly feed on nectar. They might also eat insects, especially when feeding young. Because of their mostly nectar-based diets, these birds are responsible for pollinating many flowering plants.

They can be spotted in fynbos, moorland, grassland, scrub, and exotic tree plantations.


16. Green Wood Hoopoe

green wood hoopoe
Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South AfricaCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

Scientific name: Phoeniculus purpureus
Lifespan: 8-15 years
Wingspan: n/a
Head Color: Glossy green-purple
Found In: Africa

Green wood hoopoe is a large tropical bird native to Africa. It has a metallic dark green plumage, with a purple back and tail. It has a long, decurved, and red-orange bill.

The green wood hoopoe is a carnivorous bird whose diet includes lizards, termites, spiders, caterpillars, etc.

When neighboring hoopoe groups meet, they engage in a distinctive “flag-waving” display.


17. Eclectus Parrot

eclectus parrot

Scientific name: Eclectus roratus
Lifespan: 30-50 years
Wingspan: 8-10 in
Head Color: Emerald green
Found In: Solomon Islands, Indonesia, New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and the Moluccas

Eclectus parrot is a small parrot native to the Solomon Islands, Sumba, New Guinea and nearby islands, northeastern Australia, and the Maluku Islands.

Males are generally green with blue primary feathers and red flanks, while females are red with purple abdomens. Because of those differences, until the 20th century, people considered them to be separate species.

A healthy male Eclectus parrot will have a bright orange beak – this means that the bird is in good condition.

Eclectus parrots are shy birds that are active during the day and spend most of their time collecting food, eating, and resting. They are great at mimicking human speech and can produce various sounds, including tones, coos, whistles, and laughs.

Read More: 12 beautiful black birds with yellow heads


In Summary

This concludes our list of birds with green heads. 

Examples of green-headed birds include the New Zealand bird kereru, Javan green magpie, emerald toucanet, green kingfisher, guinea turaco, green-headed tanager, and many others.

Next time, should you see these birds in person, you should be able to recognize any of them with ease!

And if you enjoyed our article, here’s another popular read on birds: 18+ incredible birds that have yellow tails

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