13 Black Birds with Mohawks (Identification)

Have you ever seen a black bird with mohawk? This unusual sight can be seen in the wild. Certain species of birds, such as phainopepla, can be observed with an impressive crest of feathers that look like a mohawk hairstyle.

 Not only are these birds visually striking, but the phenomenon itself is surprisingly complex and interesting to learn about. In this article, we will explore why some birds develop mohawks and how it affects their behavior in the wild.

List of Black Birds with Mohawks

1. Phainopepla


Phainopepla – Phainopepla nitens

The Phainopepla is a small, sparrow-like bird with iridescent black feathers. It is found in the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

 This little bird with black crest is well adapted to its arid habitat, with a short bill that it uses to eat desert mistletoe berries, sumac fruits, and elderberries .

During the breeding season, phainopeplas raise one brood of 2-4 babies. The Phainopepla is an important species in the desert ecosystem.

2. Great Curassow

Great Curassow

Great Curassow – Crax rubra

Large and beautiful, great curassows are unmistakable black birds with mohawks. An adult typically measures about 31-39 inches in length and can weigh up to 10.2 lbs. 

These birds are sexally dimorphic. Males are black and sport a white undertail. Note the yellow knob and cute curly crest. Female great curassows have a black and white crest, brown body and a long black and white tail. 

The Great Curassow is a member of the Cracid family, which includes other birds such as the guans and the chachalacas. It is a shy bird that is most active during the early morning hours. It feeds on hog plums and red berries. This large bird nests in trees and lays its eggs in clutches of two. 

3. Palm Cockatoo

Palm Cockatoo

Palm Cockatoo – Probosciger aterrimus

The Palm Cockatoo, also called Great black cockatoo or Goliath Cockatoo or Black Macaw, is a large black cockatoo native to Australia and New Guinea. Like the white crested cuckoos, their populations are stable. 

The Palm Cockatoo is a striking bird, with an all black body, striking mohawk and bright red cheeks. Their bills are larger than most cockatoos. Unlike the curassows above, palm cockatoos are monomorphic, meaning sexes share the same plumage and body size. 

This large bird occurs in rainforests and woodlands. Also in recent times, it has become a popular pet due its long life expectancy, up to 80 years, and its vocal abilities. Palm cockatoos feed on kanari tree nuts, palm fruits, and seeds from beach almond trees. The Palm Cockatoo is an important part of the rainforest ecosystem, dispersing seeds through its droppings.

4. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus

Large and loud, you can hardly mistake the pileated woodpecker for another red mohawk bird. There are two common subspecies in North America: the southern pileated woodpecker and Northern pileated woodpecker. 

They are one of the largest members of the picidae family and are easily recognizable by their distinctive red crest. 

Pileated Woodpeckers are known for their loud drumming on trees, which they use to communicate with other members of their species. They also have a unique feeding behavior, whereby they excavate large holes in trees in order to access the insects inside.

Also, their excavations provide homes for other animals, and their diet helps to control insect populations. 

5. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo – Calyptorhynchus banksii

In Australia, the red-tailed black cockatoo is a bird of the forest and woodland areas. Both sexes are similar in size and coloring. However, the tails will help you tell the sexes apart. Males have reddish patches on their tails while females have orangish-yellow hues on their chest and tail.  

Interesting Fact: Red-tailed Black cockatoos are left-footed. 

How long do these birds live? The lifespan of the bankasian or red-tailed black cockatoo is about 40 years. You can find these black birds with mohawks in large groups along water courses or woodlands. These cockatoos are rare and expensive. 

6. Bamboo Antshrike

The bamboo antshrike is a small, shy bird that is found in the forests of Brazil and Bolivia. The male of this avian species fits this category perfectly. It is typically black with thin white bars. Their mohawk is all black and pointed. 

They are usually seen in pairs or small groups but can sometimes be found alone. These birds are very difficult to spot, as they spend most of their time high up in the trees.

Bamboo antshrikes are very quick and agile, making it hard for predators to catch them. Their diet consists mainly of insects, which they catch by swooping down on them from above.

7. ʻAkohekohe


ʻAkohekohe – Palmeria dolei

source: consevazione.animale

Also called the crested honeycreeper, the ‘Akohekohe is a critically endangered species of birds found in Maui. It is the largest member in the Hawaiian honeycreeper subfamily. They are found in forests at elevations of 1000-2000 feet.

The Akohekohe is a beautiful bird with a glossy black body with whitish stripes. They have orangish feathers around their eyes and on their wings. Also, they have a whitish crest or mohawk. 

Like other honeycreepers, they mostly feed on nectar and fruits. ‘Akohekohe songs include “tjook” and “whee-o” sounds. 

8. Bare-faced Curassow

Bare-faced Curassow

Bare-faced Curassow – Crax fasciolata

A curassow is a large, tropical bird that is found in the forests of Central and South America. Bare-faced curassows are closely related to the Mexican great curassow above. Males bare-faced curassow are the same size and color as the great curassow with black bodies and white undertails. 

However, the bare-faced curassow male has the yellow patch on the bill without the knob and a bare face. Females have black and white upperparts, burnt orange underparts and a stunning curly mohawk. 

The IUCN has listed them as vulnerable; meaning their population is endangered. 

9. Bare-necked Umbrellabird

bare-necked umbrellabird

Bare-necked umbrellabird – Cephalopterus glabricollis

source: melinagoldenbird

I think the bare-necked umbrellabird has the most elaborate mohawk on this list. Large and rare, these black birds with mohawks are native to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The bird gets its name from the fact that it has a bare patch of skin on its neck, which is used to attract mates. The umbrellabird is a large bird, with a body size of up to 16 inches.

It is mostly black in color, with a funky crest and bright red throat patch. Females are black overall without the mohawk and throat patch. The bare-necked umbrellabird prefers fruits but will also consume frogs and insects. 

10. Amazonian Umbrellabird

Amazonian Umbrellabird

Amazonian Umbrellabird – Cephalopterus ornatus

source: julioc.telloalvarado

Common in the Amazon basin, the Amazonian umbrellabird is another bird with a weird hairstyle. It gets its name from the male’s large umbrella-like crest, which is used to attract mates. The female umbrellabird has a shorter mohawk. 

This black bird has many unique adaptations that help it to survive in its tropical habitat. For example, the umbrellabird has special feathers that allow it to absorb water, which helps to keep the bird cool in the hot rainforest climate. The umbrellabird also has a special diet that consists mostly of fruits and spiders. 

11. Andaman Woodpecker

Andaman Woodpecker

Andaman Woodpecker – Dryocopus hodgei

source: movingforests.in

A lesser known member of the large woodpecker family is the Andaman woodpeckers. A native of the Andaman Islands, this woodpecker’s population is endangered.  It is smaller compared to the pileated woodpecker above, measuring about 15 inches in size and up to 9.0 oz in body mass. 

Both sexes are black in plumage with a gorgeous bright red mohawk. Note, they can raise or lower their mohawk at will. 

It nests in tree cavities, laying only two eggs each season. This means it’ll take a long time for their numbers to rebound. 

12. Apo Myna

Apo Myna

Apo Myna – Goodfellowia miranda

source: feathercollector0510

You’ll have to squint to see the mohawk on the apo myna. But it’s there. Also known as the Mount Apo, the apo myna is mostly glossy black with yellow skin around its eyes, yellow bill and long tail. 

Apo mynas love insects and berries. They forage singly or in small groups. Also, they are a non-migratory species, found in the Philippines. 

13. Black Baza

Black Baza

Black Baza – Aviceda leuphotes

source: avem.theband

Are there raptors with black mohawks? Yes, black bazas fit this category perfectly. It is a species of hawks found in the forests of southern India. They are the only members of the genus aviceda to be found in India. The black baza is a very shy bird and is seldom seen by humans.

These hawks are small birds of prey, measuring between 11.8 and 13.8 in length. They have black upperparts. The underparts are white with rusty bars on its sides. Black bazas have long, rounded wings.

The diet of these hawks consists mainly of insects. They pick insects mid-air. Black bazas are thought to mate for life and nests are usually built in trees or bushes.

Other Birds with Black Mohawks 

14. Red-whiskered Bulbul

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Red-whiskered Bulbul – Pycnonotus jocosus

This little bird does not exactly fit this category but it has a black mohawk. Found in Florida and Hawaii, the red-whiskered bulbul is a species of songbird easily recognizable by its pointed crest, brownish-black back, and white underparts, as well as the distinctive red patches on its cheeks. 

These birds with black mohawks raise one or two broods each year consisting of about 3 nestlings. If you live in Florida, you can see babies between February and July. 


What bird has a fluffy mohawk? 

Birds with crazy fluffy mohawks include titmouse, great curassows, golden pheasants, black-crowned cranes, white cockatoos and crested ducks. 

What is a small bird with a black mohawk? 

Examples of small black birds with black mohawks are black-crested tit-tyrant, apo myna, Phainopepla and crested honeycreeper. 

What is a blue and black bird with a black mohawk? 

Most common black and blue birds with black mohawks are steller’s jays and white-throated magpie-jays. 

Final Thoughts: 

In conclusion,birds with mohawks are a fascinating phenomenon that has been documented all over the world. They are more common than we think. While it is still largely unknown why these birds have grown to sport such an unusual hairstyle, it is clear that these birds are keeping up with the latest trends, as mohawks remain popular today!





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