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Birds With Mohawks: Top 12 Species With Nice Hairdos

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Apr 25th, 2024
Victoria crowned pigeon

Some of you won't believe it. But we have feathered friends deserving of an award for having the best hairstyle!

Yeah, really!

Maybe you've seen or heard about a bird with mohawk hair. Such birds sport a fabulously stylish hairstyle.

Nevertheless, you probably wonder why some birds have crests with a vibrant tuft of feathers, and some don't. Aside from being an attention-grabber, a bird's crest looks appealing and serves a specific purpose.

But these crests look different for every species. Let's find out about the birds with such hair and discover more about them.

Different Birds With Mohawk Hair

You will notice many bird crests, varying significantly in appearance from one bird species to another. One bird may have theirs as crown plumes, while others, like the great horned owl, are two tuft feathers on its head.

A bird with a perky crest catches anyone's attention effortlessly, even the non-birders sometimes. But the lack of this feature is what requires keen observation. Here are some of our well-known birds with eye-catching crests:

1. Tufted Titmouse

A tufted titmouse is a bird with a mohawk more evident than the black-capped chickadee or the common tern. It shares a similar dimension with the downy woodpecker, yet is more compact than the rufous hummingbird.

In most eastern deciduous forests, this mohawk bird is a prevalent species with its crest raising or lowering depending on its mood. The tufted titmouse is also the most widespread backyard bird of its kind in North America and the most audacious.

Additionally, a tufted titmouse is a charming bird with positive and tame behavior; it's a familiar sight at every feeder in eastern North America.

This bird has a pale gray back and head, a white throat and belly, and peachy flanks. It prefers consuming small fruits and berries, acorns, and sunflower seeds, hiding these foods sometimes to retrieve in winter. Like an American robin, its eggs incubate for about twelve to fourteen days. 

Titmice can be immensely territorial, and contrary to their usual diet, these birds feed on insects during their breeding season. This sassy woodland creature can forage alone, in pairs, or join flocks of various species where it takes the lead.

2. Great Curassow

Great Curassow
Great Curassow

The Great Curassow does not fly well, so they rely on their long legs for foraging their food on the ground. After successfully obtaining food, it will run for safety in the deep forest cover.

This Great Curassow is a shy bird enjoying the quiet evergreen forests in South America; you may also find it in Central America and Costa Rica.

Curassows are among the birds with mohawks, a curly crest more prominent in males, with a glossy black cap, overall black plumage, and a white belly. Females also lack the male's distinctive yellow knob from its hooked bill. It likes foraging the ground for fruit or leaves.

Being a naturally sedentary creature, you would rarely see it straying farther from its natural habitats, such as the rich rainforest, marshes, and foothills. You will also notice the curassow scratching its feet on the soil, plucking fruit from low branches, or gleaning insects from foliage.

3. Northern Cardinal

A Northern Cardinal male displays his prominent crest to announce his ability to protect his offspring. It belongs to the most prevalent and well-known birds in North America. The Roman Catholic Church's cardinals wearing bright red robes inspired this bird's name.

Birds of this species live in sprawling suburban landscapes of open grounds, scattered shrubs, and trees where there's an abundance of bird feeders.

Aside from its crimson red plumage and black face, you can identify a cardinal with its tail length and shape, plus the undertail coverts' color. These creatures are highly-coveted at almost any bird feeder, especially a hopper feeder capable of holding enough seeds.

Cardinals are well-known for their distinctive songs; they also rarely migrate and opt to stay in their place of origin. Furthermore, this brilliant red creature is Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia's state bird.

4. Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Victoria Crowned Pigeon

The Victoria crowned pigeon, a forest inhabitant of Papua New Guinea, is the most sizable of all pigeons. It got its name from Queen Victoria, who adored wearing intricate feathered headwear.

This pigeon's long crest feathers have white tips with a lacy appearance due to the plumes having slightly detached barbs at the end.

Victoria-crowned pigeons provide a spectacular sight in forests with their grayish-blue feather contrasting with their purplish-red breasts. Its wing also has a blue shade with a purple border. You might spot this beauty as it joins a small flock while foraging for fallen fruits or berries. 

Otherwise, it could be perching on branches. You will see a breathtaking view of its crest when the male lowers its head the moment the female heeds its call before preening each other. Unfortunately, this species has a declining population due to excessive hunting and habitat loss.

Read Also: Birds With Crested Heads

5. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker is the most sizable of its kind; it is also among the birds with a raised crown. Its prominent red crest is noticeable in males and females, having a similar body size to the American crow and a matte black plume.

This woodpecker's red crest plumage has modified flat feather barbs that make it glossy enough to stand out.

Such species make a significant contribution to creating nests that are ecologically crucial. Many animals use these nests woodpeckers leave behind for roosting and nesting, like how a black-capped chickadee uses an old downy woodpecker cavity.

Sometimes, you might even see this bird with the hairy woodpecker eating at opposite ends of a suet feeder or feasting on seeds, like a song sparrow.

6. Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Hoopoe (Israel's National Bird)
Eurasian Hoopoe

The Eurasian hoopoe features brown-colored head plumage with black tips like a house finch or American kestrel. Its body length is similar to that of a mourning dove.

This bird's bright color patterns are due to the melanin pigments in its diet, sporing black-tipped mohawks often closed except when landing or during courtship.

Even when they are widespread, the species from Europe and North Asia migrate in winter, while those from Africa are sedentary. 

You can spot it in habitats like savannas and grasslands, foraging on small reptiles, insects, seeds, and berries. Hoopoes also require areas to build nest cavities in trees or cliffs.

7. Eastern Towhee

The mohawk of an Eastern towhee may not be as prominent as the mohawks of the other birds in this article. This species can raise its forehead to a crest, resembling the head of an American goldfinch or the blue jay. Its body length is also akin to the red-winged blackbird.

This towhee, the white-crowned sparrow, and the fox sparrow, belonging to the Passerellidae family, are among the birds with mohawks.

It has a remarkable song with well-known mnemonics, sounding like, "drink your tea." Based on the observations of several birders, it is during spring and summer that you will see more of this towhee in the northeast.

8. Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant
Golden Pheasant

The golden pheasant, a native species of central China, is among the most strikingly hued birds with a mohawk. You have more chances of spotting it in the rocky hill country, where bamboo thickets and low shrubs cover mountain slopes.

The bird's plumage is a beautiful combination of red and yellow; its crest overlaying one over the other looks very ornamental.

Golden pheasants use these crest plumes to attract a potential mate. You might be surprised, but males with richer colors are the most appealing suitors for females. However, these head plumes lack the barbs, so they lay at various angles.

In its natural habitat in China, this creature feeds on leaves, shoots, and blossoming buds of bamboo. Occasionally, the bird also consumes flowers and insects.

Aside from its colorful plumage, this bird also has an elongated barred tail, and it's smaller in size than a great blue heron.

9. White-Crested Duck

White-Crested Ducks
White-Crested Ducks

Both males and females are while-colored and have prominent crests, yellow bills, light-orange feet, and blue eyes.

No matter how gorgeous it is, such species are what most people call utility birds. Some individuals raise them for meat production, while others have these ducks as pets. 

While this creature seems to have an eye-catching crest, experts claim it results from a genetic mutation, causing a gap between the duck embryo's skulls.

10. Cedar Waxwing

Some people confuse this bird with a European starling when in flight. In comparison, starlings have noticeably darker bellies, lacking yellow tips on waxwings' tail plumage.

Identifying bird plumage may not be as straightforward as some people think. A cedar waxwing's tail plumes have tilted ends with a radiant yellow band, while the Eastern kingbird's tail feathers what white tips.

You might see this nomadic bird in flocks as they move towards Canada and the United States in their search for berries, their primary food source.

You will recognize this bird with its brownish-tan back, black bandit mask, waxy red tips on its inner wing, and a wispy crest. Moreover, this waxwing also enjoys birdbaths in suburbia neighborhoods.

11. Cockatiel

The cockatiel is one of the small birds with mohawks, having a gray-colored body, the same crown shade as a house sparrow, and a yellow face. It's as big as the northern flicker, often hanging upside down with widespread wings as a display of territorial behavior.

In addition to being a native bird in Australia, this small parrot mostly dwells in savannas, grassland, shrubberies, or areas with acacia.

You might see it sometimes flocking around cities or using electrical wires as perching spots. Likewise, it is not unusual to hear cockatiels hissing with a beak lunge at times as their way of warning humans to back off. Vegetables, fruits, and seeds are part of this creature's diet.

12. Wood Duck

Wood Duck (Male)
Wood Duck (Male)

Aside from its brown feathers and blue patches on its wings, the wood duck has a similar faint gray shade like that of the Eastern bluebird. This species was almost on the brink of extinction in the early 1900s.

As a visually complex bird, you will recognize this duck by its iridescent head, wearing its body in style with stripes, dots, and solids.

The females don't share this exact color pattern, but males and females have identical bill shapes, a small crest, and bare skin around the eye. You may spot this duck in parks with surrounding trees, ponds, and shallow lakes, feeding on insects, acorns, seeds, and tree fruits.

Read Also: Birds With Crazy Hair

Watch This!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there birds with raised crests?

Birds' crests are how they effectively communicate or send a signal to other birds that a potential threat is nearby. Hence, you will notice how their crest raises when sending an alarm call, showing aggression, when breeding, and as part of their courtship display. 

These crests can also be their way of expressing their intentions to defend territories or when mating. Moreover, a bird's crest conveys a distinct language for every species; birds also have this fascinating way of controlling how they position their crests.

What is the name of the white bird with a mohawk?

The sulfur-crested cockatoo is another white bird with a mohawk beside the white-crested duck. This bird boasts an all-white plumage, a robust bill, and broad wings with a raised yellow crest, reflecting its mood.

If you see it raised, it could mean that the bird feels scared, aggressive, or excited. You will know its sex by looking at its eyes; males have dark-brown eyes, and females have reddish-brown eyes.

What birds raise their crests when expressing their emotions?

When alarmed, aggressive, or distressed, blue jays and steller's jays display heightened crests. Northern cardinals do this likewise during aggressive encounters, cedar waxwings show a raised crest when anxious, and titmice show their dominance by raising theirs, too.


In avian anatomy, mohawks are more accurately known as crests. Others have more conspicuous crowns, while others have subtle ones. These are a collection of plumes on top of a bird's head. 

These crests serve more purpose than merely catching attention or making a bird look more appealing. In addition to attracting a mate, these crests aid in communication with other bird species when endangered or thrilled.

Crests can be practical field marks, too, for most birdwatchers. In North America, you're likely to encounter a small bird with a mohawk than larger ones.

Therefore, don't merely wait for these birds to come to your seed feeders. Try observing more as you watch out for these birds with mohawks during your outdoor adventures or even your daily walk in the park.

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