When you think of punk rock, what do you think of? Maybe you think of anti-authoritarian lyrics or bands like Blink-182. Others thought of the style, especially the most iconic punk hairstyle: the mohawk. While certainly used by punk rockers as a sign that they don’t like the norm, the mohawk as a hairstyle predates punk rock. The term Mohawk refers to Mohawks who pluck their hair from the sides of the top of their head, leaving only a small square on top. Ancient Scythian warriors were as fond of Mohawks as the Cossacks of 16th-century Ukraine. It is likely that all of these people imitated the hairstyles of animals they saw in nature. In particular, there are many bird mohawks that look better than any punk rock hairstyle. That said, do you think you can name these spiky-haired birds?
If you can’t, don’t worry, because that’s where we come in. Over the course of this article, we’ll take you on a tour of the best Mohawk birds. We’ll also cover where they live, their physical traits, and any unique behaviors they have. So get ready to rock and roll as we explore 10 birds with mohawk hairdos.
#10: Philippine Eagle
The Philippine hawk, also known as the monkey-eating hawk, is a member of the eagle family, the hawk family. It only lives in the highland virgin forests of several of the larger islands of the Philippines. As top predators, they eat a wide variety of prey, including monkeys, fawns, bats, mice, reptiles and other birds. Considered the longest eagle in the world, they are 2.8 to 3.3 feet long and weigh 8.9 to 17.6 pounds. Despite their size, they are both very agile and long-lived, able to live to be 60 years old. Their plumage is dark brown on the face and back and white on the underparts. Additionally, these mohawk-haired birds have a large mane-like crest with brown and cream stripes. The IUCN lists the Philippine eagle as critically endangered due to habitat loss and environmental pollution.
#9: Tufted Titmouse
A member of the chickadee and tit family, the tufted tit is one of the smaller Mohawk birds. It lives year-round throughout the eastern United States and does not migrate. Generally, its preferred habitats include mixed woodlands and cultivated lands such as parks and gardens. The tufted tit eats a variety of nuts, fruits, and seeds, as well as wasps, bees, snails, and its favorite prey, caterpillars. Additionally, they often hide excess food in shelters for the winter. On average, they are 5.5 to 6.3 inches long and have a wingspan of 7.9 to 10.2 inches. They have white feathers on the front, gray back and black forehead. Additionally, they have a small gray mohawk that looks similar to a cardinal. In fact, the Latin name for the tufted tit, Dichrome, Translated as “two-color small crest”.
#8: Gray Crowned Crane
Also known as the African crowned crane or the golden crowned crane, the gray crowned crane belongs to the crane family Craneidae. Its range includes large expanses of dry grasslands throughout East and South Africa. Gray Crowned Cranes are omnivores, eating a variety of seeds, grains, frogs, snakes, fish and insects. They are one of only two species of cranes that live in trees, and they are able to do so because of their large hind toes. During breeding season, they put on an elaborate courtship display that includes dancing, jumping and bowing. Generally, they are about 3.3 feet tall and weigh about 7.7 pounds. These mohawk-haired birds have large golden crests, while the rest of their plumage is gray and white, hence the name. The Gray Crowned Crane is currently listed as endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss and threats from pesticides.
#7: Sulfur Cockatoo
The Sulfur Cockatoo is one of the most recognizable Mohawk birds in the world. These large white birds belong to the cockatoo family Cacatuidae. They are found throughout eastern and northern Australia, as well as New Guinea and its surrounding islands. Their preferred habitats include wetter lowland areas as well as wooded urban areas. Typically, they are between 17.5 and 21.5 inches in length and have almost all white plumage. An exception is their oversized yellow mohawk hairstyle, which they let loose as they express themselves. Very clever birds, they can not only dance to the music, but also solve simple puzzles. Their intelligence and extremely long lifespan make them popular animals in the pet trade, although they require a lot of work. Due to their large numbers, the IUCN lists them as a species of least concern, and some consider them pests.
#6: Royal Flycatcher
The royal flycatcher belongs to the Flycatidae family, and the current debate about the number of species and subspecies continues. These little mohawk-haired birds are found throughout Central and South America. In particular, they prefer to live in tropical forests at high and low altitudes, where water sources are readily available. Most specimens are between 5.9 and 7.1 inches in length and weigh less than 1 ounce. Royal flycatchers are primarily insectivorous, and they eat a wide variety of insects, including flies, cicadas, grasshoppers, and dragonflies. Their plumage is mostly brown with yellow or red patches, depending on the subspecies. That is, they possess a large red crown that only appears when mating, courting, or being petted. Although the IUCN ranks some populations as least of concern, it considers those living in southeastern Brazil to be vulnerable.
#5: Dalmatian Pelican
Among the mohawk-headed birds, few are as large or as imposing as the Dalmatian pelican. The Dalmatian pelican, part of the family Pelicanidae, is the largest pelican and one of the largest flying birds in the world. Typically, they are 5 feet 3 inches to 6 feet long and weigh between 16 and 33.1 pounds. They are found throughout the wetlands of Southern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. You can often see them traveling in groups as they travel to and from their breeding grounds. Their diet consists mainly of fish such as catfish, eels, and carp, but they also eat crustaceans, beetles, and worms. The main features of the Dalmatian pelican are silvery-white plumage and a large orange and gray beak. On top of their heads, they have a small cluster of white feathers shaped like a mohawk. The IUCN lists them as Near Threatened due to poaching and habitat loss.
#4: Eurasian Hoopoe
The Eurasian hoopoe is the most common member of the hoopoe family. These mohawk-haired birds are found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa. It likes to forage in grasslands with high visibility, and likes to nest in trees, cliffs or buildings. Their name comes from their distinctive “whoop” cry, although their French names, huppée, also translated as “crested head”. Eurasian hoopoe feed primarily on insects, but they also eat small reptiles and amphibians. On average, they are 9.8 to 12.6 inches long and have a wingspan of 17 to 19 inches. Their broad wings have black and white stripes, while their chest and face are fawn in color. Meanwhile, they sport tall, reddish mohawks with black borders, which they display during courtship and battle. Males, especially, use their sharp beaks to kill each other. Currently, the IUCN lists the Eurasian hoopoe as a species of least concern.
#3: Great Curassow
Great cockatoos are members of the Galliformes, a group of ground-eating birds that includes turkeys, chickens, and quails. These pheasant-like birds range from Mexico in the north to northern Colombia and Ecuador in the south. You’ll usually find them living in groups in tropical rainforests, although they can also be found in dry forests. Their diet consists mainly of fruits such as figs as well as arthropods and rodents. Generally, they are 31 to 39 inches long and weigh 6.8 to 10.6 pounds. Males have mostly black plumage with a white belly, while females vary in their plumage. The male, meanwhile, has a curly black crest, making these mohawk-clad birds one of the most elaborate examples on this list. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and hunting, the IUCN lists the great cockatoo as Vulnerable.
#2: Victoria Crown Pigeon
When most people think of birds with mohawks, they don’t think of pigeons, but that would be a serious oversight. A prime example is the Victoria Crown Pigeon, a member of the pigeon family Pigeon family. Named after Britain’s Queen Victoria, these striking birds live only in the swampy forests of New Guinea. Known for their gregarious nature, they hunt in groups for food, including fruit, seeds, worms, and insects. Typically, they are 29 to 30 inches long and weigh up to 7.7 pounds. The plumage on their backs is a rich blue-gray, while their chests are sorrel. Also, they have a beautiful crest of blue feathers that looks similar to the feathers on a peacock’s tail. Ongoing habitat loss and hunting have led the IUCN to list the Victoria Crested Pigeon as Near Threatened.
#1: Golden Pheasant
The golden pheasant, also known as the Chinese or rainbow pheasant, is another showy example of a bird with a mohawk. Although native to China, wild populations are now found throughout Europe, North and South America, and Oceania. Although they can fly, they mostly forage on the ground for grains, leaves and insects. Generally, they are 35 to 41 inches long. Their plumage varies from yellow on the lower back and rump, red on the chest, green on the upper back, and tan on the face, throat, and chin. In addition to their bright orange mohawks, they wore a deployable “cape” made of alternating black and orange stripes. its scientific name, Clematis, Translated as “gold-painted coat of arms” in ancient Greek and Latin, respectively. Due to its abundance, the IUCN lists it as a species of least concern.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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