If you’re like me, then you love birds. I think they are the most beautiful creatures on earth. But have you ever wondered what the ugliest birds in the world look like?
Well, you’re about to find out. In this blog post, we’ll take a quick look at some of the more interesting and lesser-known species of bird that have been called ugly. These are all examples of avian life that have been rejected by nature or just had really bad luck.
Here’s a list of the 7 ugliest (but still amazing) birds in existence.
Table of Contents
7 Ugly Birds Of The World
The Marabou Stork is a large bird that belongs to the family Ciconiidae. It is an Old World vulture and possesses a very noticeable featherless, wrinkled head along with a stout beak.
This ugly bird can be found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Their range extends from Senegal east to Somalia and south to South Africa.
They prefer open areas such as wet or dry plains, savannas, river valleys, and coastal regions over temperate forests and mountains. This incredibly ugly bird species’ preferred habitat is a semi-open area with access to a body of water and tall trees for nesting. They are often found in agricultural areas due to the availability of large amounts of food waste.
The Marabou Stork’s most notable characteristic is its bald head and neck. This area of the body is bare because of feather loss caused by the frequent inserting of its long bill into crevices while foraging for food items. It also possesses black bristles on its head and neck which gives it a “velvety” appearance.
These bristles are used in displays during mating season to attract the attention of females, along with loud hissing sounds.
It also has a gular sac, which is inflatable and used for communication. Once inflated, it can produce a loud hissing sound or deep, resonating croaking sounds. The latter is mostly made during the mating season to attract female mates.
The cinereous vulture is a big avian scavenger found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They live in open areas with little vegetation or mountainous regions.
Their diet is also not the most appealing. These really ugly birds mostly feed on carrion and sometimes other birds, but it usually eats only after other animals have already had their share. It has an extraordinary capacity for extracting marrow from the hollows in large bones with its precise hooked beak.
This vulture can digest the animal scraps it swallows, but it possesses a digestive organ called the gizzard, which helps to grind up large quantities of bones and fur.
The cinereous vulture is one of the ugliest birds in the world, but it has a purposeful appearance with its dark-brown coloring. The head is pretty large for the bird’s body. Their lack of feathers is an adaptation to their lifestyle of inhabiting carcasses.
To prevent skin irritation, these vultures have sturdy legs and big claws to tear the carcass open without having too much contact with meat or blood. They also have a long neck and hooked bill, which helps them hunt for food by picking at the bones of large animal skeletons.
Shoebills can be found in swamps, shallow lakes and rivers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The word Shoebill means shoe-bill. This is because of its resemblance to an old fashioned woman’s shoe. The face of this bird has evolved over time to look like this in order to scare away predators.
This ugly beauty has a stork-like appearance. Its body is covered in white feathers, with black feathers on the wings and tail. The lower part of the beak is used to catch prey while the upper part has a casque-shaped lid that protects the eyes from water when they are dabbling for food.
Shoebills have to open their large bill about 70 degrees to catch fish. They eat mainly fish that are about 10% of their body weight, which is necessary for them to survive. Shoebills also feed on frogs, snails, and even baby crocodiles.
In some places where this ugly bird species used to live, their numbers have been reduced by half. This is because of the people who live in the area hunting them for food and taking away their eggs. Besides being hunted, these birds are also threatened by loss of habitat – more and more swamps are being drained or taken over by human settlement.
Sri Lanka Frogmouth
The Sri Lanka frogmouth is an insect-eating bird that can be found in India and Sri Lanka. The adult Sri Lanka frogmouth looks like a big dark brown owl, but is actually a kind of nightjar. It was once widespread throughout Sri Lanka and South India but now it is restricted to the forests of the wet zone where it inhabits both dense evergreen and deciduous forest.
It has a sizeable white patch on the primaries and a pale buff stripe above the eye which extends down to the upper mandible giving it an unusually fierce expression for such a small bird.
Sri Lanka frogmouths are nocturnal birds that hunt by night, feeding mainly on large insects which they take in flight or glean from foliage. They also eat snails, frogs, lizards and rodents. The Sri Lanka frogmouth is a solitary bird which is usually seen flying silently across the forest floor.
It does not display or breed during the day, but rather at dusk and dawn.
The California condor is a species of carrion bird endemic to North America. It is one of the largest flying birds in North America and is now an endangered species as wild populations have declined to about two hundred birds as of 2013. Up close the bird is very fearsome in appearance, but it’s demeanor has been described as “tranquil” and serene.
The bird’s most distinguishing feature is its large wingspan which can reach up to 3 meters. Its feathers are black with white patches on its wings and a patch of red on the lower surface near the tip of both wings. The head is largely bald except for some blackish down patches around the eyes, as well as long dark filamentous plumes on the nape which are used for display.
Their bill is thick and longish with a hooked tip to assist in tearing flesh from corpses, which they do when feeding.
They feed on large carcasses by tearing at them with their beaks, but also scavenge from smaller dead animals. They are often chased off of carcasses by other predators such as wolves, coyotes and eagles. It is a carrion feeder specifically, but will take live prey given the opportunity.
The Potoo is a nocturnal bird which camouflages itself to look like a branch. It is mostly found in Central America and parts of South America, although some are recorded in the US in parts of Arizona and Texas. They are not passerine birds, but they can be seen perching on branches during the day.
The Potoo’s feathers are black with brown and white spots, making it look like a branch. It also has yellowish-brown eyes, that help it camouflage itself at night. During the day they sleep on branches of trees and camouflages itself to look like a branch.
It has a wide, tubular-shaped mouth that helps to suck up insects. It has a head crest, which it can raise up when threatened to appear larger and scarier.
This ugly black bird is, however, a monogamous bird, and will stay with its partner for the rest of their lives. They lay 3-5 eggs and both parents, along with helpers of previous successful broods, will help to incubate the eggs and care for the young.
Roseate Spoonbills, named for their unusual pink spatulum shaped beak, are a conspicuous bird of the Florida Everglades and other coastal areas.
Adult spoonbills have a white body with rose-pink plumage on the head, neck, and upper back. They also show bare gray skin coloration around the eyes and bill. It’s not certain why adult spoonbills have such an unusual color, but it has been hypothesized that this comes from their very narrow diet, which consists almost entirely of blue crabs which these birds can spot swimming beneath them in shallow water.
The ‘spoon’ in their name comes from the way in which they can sweep their bill back and forth through the water, using it to sense vibrations of crabs moving around. The movement of this part of the bill is very similar to a kitchen spoon when stirring soup.
Spoonbills are very social birds, spending almost all of their day in large flocks. They have also been known to form monogamous pairs during the breeding period. It’s typical for spoonbill parents to share parenting responsibilities equally, with each individual pitching in, both when it comes to incubation and feeding of the hatchlings.
We’ve all seen beautiful and colorful birds, but not everyone has the chance to see these ugly beauties. From a clumsily-named bird called “the world’s most ungainly creature” to one that looks like it just got out of bed, we found 7 unusual-looking feathered creatures that you might never have heard of before.
What other ugly birds should we include to our list? Comment below!