A New Perspective on Beauty in the Bird World

Written By: Sarah Girton

Back when I did our blog series on why we love birds, I wrote a post about bird beauty. I want to circle back to that and expand on it, because there was a lot that I was unable to cover, just in the interest of keeping the post to a respectable length.

Some bird families that are traditionally known around the world as exceptional beauties include Phasianidae (that include pheasants, peafowl, etc), Thraupidae (the Tanagers), Psittacidae (New and Old World Parrots), and Trochilidae (the Hummingbirds)…just to name a few. But there is beauty in all bird families. Some is more subtle, and sometimes it takes a new perspective. Today we are going to talk about sparrows and vultures!

You may be familiar with the term Little Brown Job (or LBJ for short), a term encompassing the many species of small, brown, passerine (perching) birds that can be very hard to distinguish. Sparrows, Wrens, and Pipits, for example, all have a similar appearance. Varying shades of brown, often accented with white or buff coloring. The key with these guys is to learn their subtle differences. After a while they get easier to distinguish, but it takes practice. 

Very often they all seem to blend together in a rush of dull, brown, coloring. But theirs is a beauty that simply requires a different outlook. Instead of bold colors, look for the intricate patterns on their plumage. Look for the ingenious way that these little birds blend into their environment. And listen to their beautiful, complex, melodious songs.

Below in order are the White-throated Sparrow, the Fox Sparrow, the Grasshopper Sparrow, and the Chipping Sparrow. Take a close look at each of these guys and really study their beauty!

White-throated Sparrow by Keenan Yakola at macaulaylibrary.org
Fox Sparrow by Evan Lipton – macaulaylibrary.org
Chipping Sparrow by Malcolm Gold at macaulaylibrary.org

Another bird family that does not fall into the typical “beautiful bird” stereotype are the Vultures, and so they are often overlooked, or dismissed as “dirty” or “ugly”. But in fact, they a vital part of any ecosystem. By feeding exclusively on carrion, vultures prevent harmful bacteria and disease from spreading into the environment. And it’s an ingenious survival strategy for them, because most other predators prefer to hunt live prey, so there isn’t as much competition.

Take a look at these species of Vultures from around the world, and see for yourself just how beautiful these birds can really be! They absolutely exude regality, wisdom, and strength. In order they are the King Vulture, the Black Vulture, the Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture, the Andean Condor, and the Egyptian Vulture.

King Vulture by Olaf Oliviero Riemer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27392486
Black Vulture by Francisco Dubón
Bearded Vulture by Unsplash
Andean Condor by Thomas Fuhrmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=118674159
Egyptian Vulture by Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25495449

There is beauty in every single bird on this dazzling planet. Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective.

One thought on “A New Perspective on Beauty in the Bird World

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  1. The white throated sparrow sings such a beautiful, sort of spooky little song. It sounds like someone’s playing a tin whistle. Took me a couple of years to figure out what bird it was.

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