Birding Hub is reader-supported. When you purchase through one of our links we may earn an affiliate commission (at no cost to you).

12 Purple Birds Found in 3 Different Continents 

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Jan 25th, 2024
purple bird - featured image

Has a purple bird just stopped on your backyard feeder? If you have seen one in your backyard for the first time, then you must be surprised. You must be wondering if there are more purple birds. Don’t fret; purple birds are rare, but if you know where to look, you can find them.

These birds can be found in several nations worldwide, including the United States. So in this article, we’ll explore the most common birds with dominant purple plumage or partial purple coloring.

12 Amazing Purple Birds You May See in Your Town

 1. Purple Martin

The Purple Martins are migratory bird species that belong to the swallow family, Hirundinidae. These purple birds are highly appreciated by bird enthusiasts due to their striking appearance, fascinating behavior, and unique housing they require.

In fact, bird lovers erect special Purple Martin houses to attract and support these birds during the breeding season.

Purple Martins are medium-sized birds with sleek and streamlined bodies covered with purple feathers. Adult males have a distinctive appearance with glossy, deep purple iridescent feathers on their head, neck, back, and wings. The underparts of the Purple Martin are lighter in color, ranging from pale gray to white.

On the other hand, adult females and immature birds have duller plumage, with a grayish-brown back and lighter underparts. Purple Martins are native to North America and breed primarily in eastern North America, from southern Canada to Mexico.

These purple birds are highly social birds and often form large colonies during the breeding season. These colonies can consist of dozens to hundreds of pairs, nesting in close proximity to one another.

Purple Martins are long-distance migratory birds. During this migration, they cover thousands of miles, crossing the Gulf of Mexico and navigating other geographic obstacles.

2. Purple Grenadier

The Purple Grenadier refers to a species of small, colorful finch native to sub-Saharan Africa. These purple birds are valued for their vibrant plumage and are sometimes kept as aviary birds due to their striking colors. It contributes to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the African savannas and woodlands.

The Purple Grenadier is a small finch with an overall purple-blue coloration on its head, neck, and upper body. The rump and tail are a vibrant purple or violet color, giving the bird its name.

Their underparts are a lighter pinkish-purple. Adult males typically have brighter colors compared to females, which are often more subdued.

They are social birds and are often seen in small groups or larger flocks. These birds are active and agile, spending much of their time foraging on the ground or in low vegetation, feeding on grass seeds, small fruits, and insects.

Purple Grenadiers build cup-shaped nests made of grass and twigs.

The female usually lays 3-5 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks. The chicks fledge and become independent within a few weeks.

3. Purple Gallinule

The Purple Gallinule is a species of bird belonging to the rail family, Rallidae. It is known for its vibrant plumage and is named after its purple-blue coloration. The Purple Gallinule is a striking bird with vibrant colors and interesting behavior, making it a fascinating species to observe in its natural habitat.

The Purple Gallinule is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 10 to 14 inches in length. It has a long, slender body, long legs, and a short tail.

The bird's plumage is mainly purple-blue, with a dark green back, yellow legs, and a red and yellow bill. They have a purple head with red eyes. On top of that, their bills have a yellow tip.

This species is native to the Americas, particularly the southeastern United States, Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America.

Purple Gallinules are known for their bold and active behavior.

They are skilled swimmers and can often be seen walking on floating vegetation, thanks to their long toes and partially webbed feet.

They also have strong legs and can walk on lily pads and other floating surfaces.

4. Costa's hummingbird

The Costa's hummingbird, scientifically known as Calypte costae, is a small species of hummingbird native to the southwestern United States and Baja California in Mexico. It is named after French nobleman Louis Marie Pantaleon Costa, who was a friend of French ornithologist Adolphe Delattre.

The male Costa's hummingbird has vibrant plumage with a shimmering purple crown and gorget (throat patch), which appears iridescent when viewed from different angles. The rest of its body is mainly grayish-green. The female has a more subdued coloration, with grayish-green feathers and a slightly lighter throat patch.

Costa's hummingbirds are relatively small, measuring about 3.5 to 4 inches (9-10 cm) in length. Their wingspan is approximately 4.5 to 5 inches (11-13 cm).

Costa's hummingbirds breed during the spring and early summer. The male performs elaborate courtship displays to attract females, including aerial dives, U-shaped flight patterns, and high-pitched vocalizations. The female constructs a cup-shaped nest using plant fibers, lichens, and spider webs. She lays two small white eggs, which she incubates for around 15 to 18 days.

Observing these beautiful hummingbirds in their natural habitat is a delightful experience, and they are a cherished species among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts in the southwestern United States.

5. Purple Honeycreeper

purple honeycreeper

The Purple Honeycreeper is a small bird species found in Central and South America. It belongs to the family Thraupidae, which includes a diverse group of colorful neotropical birds.

The male Purple Honeycreeper is known for its vibrant plumage. It has a predominantly bright turquoise or purple-blue body with black wings and tail. The color intensity can vary depending on the light conditions.

On the other hand, the female has a more subdued greenish coloration, blending with the surrounding foliage, which provides better camouflage for nesting.

These honeycreepers inhabit forest edges, secondary growth, and gardens with fruiting trees. They have a specialized diet that primarily consists of nectar, fruit, and insects. 

The curved beak of the Purple Honeycreeper is adapted for feeding on flowers and extracting nectar.

They play an important role in pollination as they transfer pollen from flower to flower while foraging.

During the breeding season, males display their bright plumage in courtship rituals to attract females. They are polygynous, meaning that males may mate with multiple females.

Like many bird species, the Purple Honeycreeper faces threats such as habitat loss due to deforestation and fragmentation. The Purple Honeycreeper is admired for its striking appearance and is often sought after by birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts when visiting its native range.

6. Purple Starling

The Purple Starling, also referred to as the Purple Glossy Starling, is a medium-sized bird found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the family Sturnidae, which includes starlings and mynas.

The male birds have glossy purple or violet plumage, which can appear iridescent under certain lighting conditions. Females, on the other hand, have a more subdued brownish coloration and bright green wings.

During the breeding season, male Purple Starlings engage in courtship displays to attract females. They may flutter their wings, puff up their plumage, and sing melodious songs to establish their territories and attract mates.

Nests are typically built in tree cavities, and both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

7. Grey-headed Swamphen

The Grey-headed Swamphen, also known as the Purple Swamphen or Purple Moorhen, is a bird species belonging to the rail family Rallidae. Scientifically known as Porphyrio poliocephalus, it is recognized for its striking appearance and distinctive behavior.

The Grey-headed Swamphen is a large bird with a length of about 45-50 centimeters (18-20 inches) and a wingspan of approximately 75-90 centimeters. It has a robust body, long legs, and a long, sturdy red bill. The head is adorned with dark, bluish-purple plumage, giving the bird its name.

The body feathers are mostly blue-black, while the undertail coverts are white. The legs and feet are bright red.

The Grey-headed Swamphen is native to wetlands and marshes across a wide range, including parts of Asia, Australia, and Africa. Its distribution varies among subspecies. In Asia, it can be found in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia.

These swamphens have an omnivorous diet. They primarily feed on plant matter, including leaves, stems, and roots of aquatic vegetation. They also consume seeds, fruits, insects, snails, and small vertebrates like frogs and fish. They forage by walking on floating vegetation or probing their bill into the water or mud.

During the breeding season, Grey-headed Swamphens construct large, platform-like nests made of reeds and other plant materials. The nest is usually built above water in dense vegetation. A typical clutch consists of 6 to 10 eggs that are incubated by both parents for around 21 to 25 days.

The Grey-headed Swamphen is an intriguing bird with its vibrant colors and interesting behavior. It is a fascinating species to observe in wetland environments, contributing to the overall richness and diversity of birdlife in its habitats.

8. Violet-Backed Starling

The Violet-backed starling, also known as Plum-colored Starling or Purple Starling, is a medium-sized starling found in parts of Asia, including China, Mongolia, and parts of Russia. It’s a beautiful purple bird with its distinctive purple plumage.

The male Violet-backed starling has a predominantly dark purple or purplish-blue plumage with a glossy sheen. Its head, neck, breast, and upper parts are covered in this bright purple color, while the belly and underparts are lighter and have a brownish tinge.

On the other hand, the female purple bird has a duller brownish plumage overall.

These starlings are often found in open woodlands, forest edges, agricultural areas, and urban environments. They are omnivorous birds, feeding on a variety of foods, including fruits, insects, seeds, and even small vertebrates.

During the breeding season, the male Violet-backed starling may engage in courtship displays, such as spreading its wings and puffing up its feathers to attract females. They build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, grass, and other materials in trees or shrubs.

The Violet-backed starling is known for its gregarious behavior and can form large flocks, especially during the non-breeding season. These flocks may consist of hundreds or even thousands of individuals, creating impressive aerial displays.

9. Violet Crowned Woodnymph

The Violet-crowned Woodnymph is a species of hummingbird found in Central and South America. The Violet-crowned Woodnymph is a stunning and captivating purple bird known for its vibrant colors and remarkable flight abilities.

The Violet-crowned Woodnymph is a medium-sized hummingbird with vibrant and colorful plumage. The male has a glossy, metallic green back and crown, a bright violet-blue throat, and a white breast with a dark central stripe. The female is slightly duller, with a green throat and white breast.

As with other hummingbirds, the Violet-crowned Woodnymph is known for its fast and agile flight.

It hovers in mid-air by rapidly flapping its wings and can move in any direction, including backward and upside down.

During the breeding season, the male Violet-crowned Woodnymph performs courtship displays to attract a mate. These displays involve aerial acrobatics, including steep dives and loops, while producing a buzzing sound with their wings.

The female builds a small cup-shaped nest made of plant fibers and spider webs, usually placed on a horizontal branch or in a shrub.

10. Purple Finch

The Purple Finch is a small songbird native to North America. Purple Finches are lovely birds with their vibrant red plumage and delightful songs. They are a common sight at bird feeders, especially during the winter months, where they can be observed feeding on seeds.

The male Purple Finch has striking plumage. During the breeding season, the male displays a raspberry-red to purple head, breast, and back, while the rest of its body is brown with streaks. The female has a more subdued plumage with a brownish overall color and blurry streaks on the underparts.

These purple-colored birds are primarily seed eaters. They have a stout beak that is well-adapted for cracking open seeds. Their diet includes a variety of seeds, buds, fruits, and insects.

They are known for their melodious and warbling songs, which are often heard during the breeding season.

11. Purplish Jay

The Purplish Jay is a species of jay found in South America. It's a visually striking bird with its deep blue and bright purple plumage. Its social nature and vocalizations add to its charm.

The Purplish Jay is a purple breasted medium-sized bird with distinct and striking plumage. It has a dark purplish-blue head, neck, and breast, which contrast with its blackish wings, tail, and belly.

The back and upper parts are a rich, deep blue color. The eyes are pale blue, and the bill and legs are black.

Purplish Jays are social birds and are often seen in small groups or family units. They are known for their vocalizations, which include a range of calls and vocal mimicry of other bird species.

They are known to build cup-shaped nests made of twigs and plant materials in trees or shrubs. The female typically lays a clutch of eggs, which are incubated by both parents.

The Purplish Jay is not currently considered globally threatened and is listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, like many other bird species, it may face localized threats due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation and agricultural activities.

The Purplish Jay is a visually striking bird with its deep blue and purplish plumage. Its social nature and vocalizations add to its charm.

Observing these jays in their natural habitat can be a rewarding experience for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

12. Purple Sunbird

The Purple Sunbird is a small bird species belonging to the family Nectariniidae. This purple bird is admired for its stunning plumage and its important role as a pollinator. As its name suggests, the Purple Sunbird exhibits shades of purple in its plumage.

The male has a glossy, metallic purple-blue head, throat, and upper parts, while its underparts are a vibrant purple. It also has long, curved beak and elongated tail feathers. The female, on the other hand, has duller plumage with a greenish-brown color, and she lacks prominent purple hues.

Purple Sunbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, and they have a specialized brush-tipped tongue that allows them to extract nectar efficiently. In addition to nectar, they also feed on small insects and spiders. They are known for their acrobatic flight, hovering near flowers and flitting between them to feed.

The Purple Sunbird is admired for its stunning plumage and its important role as a pollinator. Its presence in gardens and natural areas adds beauty and vitality to the surroundings, making it a delight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Conclusion

Purple birds may be rare, but they do exist. These beautiful creatures come with some unique color combinations. Some birds are always purple, while others change their color to pink during the breeding season.

For instance, some male hummingbirds are purple-breasted, necks, and heads during the mating season to help them attract a female. On the other hand, some of these species have some minute purple areas on their bodies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a purple pigeon exist?

Yes, the pale-capped pigeons are also referred to as purple wood pigeons. This huge pigeon species is found in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Does a purple eagle exist?

No, there is no known species of eagle that exhibits predominantly purple plumage. Eagles are typically known for their distinctive brown, black, and white coloration.

Do we have purple birds?

Despite being a rare color, birds with purple plumages, most of them come with violet hues. If you’re lucky, you might see one in your backyard.

About The Author

Scroll to Top