Skip to Content

11 Types of Purple Birds

Purple Birds

There are yellow birds, red birds, and even blue birds but what about purple birds? Yes, believe it or not, there are a number of purple birds, or bird species with at least some purple in their plumage.

Some of these beautiful purple birds are common and easily seen. For others, we may need to visit Africa or South America.

No matter where we see purple in birds, males often have it to attract females. In this article, we have included the most commonly seen birds with purple in their plumage. Learn about these lovely bird species below.


#11 Purple-Throated Carib

The Purple-Throated Carib is a large hummingbird with a long, curved bill and a lovely purple throat.

The top of the head, back, and underparts are velvet black, and the long wings are golden-green. The rump and tail are a beautiful jade green.

This flashy hummingbird is easily recognized by these field marks as well as its limited range. It only lives in tropical forest and other tropical habitats on the islands of the Lesser Antilles.


#10 Purple Honeycreeper

The Purple Honeycreeper is a tiny bird with bright yellow legs, short tail, and a long, sharp, curved bill. The male can be recognized by its purple-blue plumage highlighted by jet-black wings, tail, and black mask around their eyes.

The female is green above, has orange on the face and throat, a small turquoise “moustache”, and heavy, turquoise-green streaks on the underparts.

This beautiful little tanager frequents the canopy of rainforest in parts of eastern Panama, parts of northern South America, and throughout the Amazon. It also occurs in Trinidad and Tobago.


#9 American Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

The American Purple Gallinule is a chicken-sized bird with a stout, bright red bill, and long yellow legs.

The adult is easily recognized by its turquoise front, and beautiful, blue-purple head, neck, and underparts. The rest of the upperparts are glossy, bronze-green, and the wings have black flight feathers. There is also a patch of white under the short tail. Juveniles are shaped like the adult but are pale brown with some white on the underparts.

The American Purple Gallinule lives in freshwater marsh habitats in the southeastern USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of Central and tropical South America.


#8 Purple-breasted Cotinga

Purple-breasted Cotinga

© Antonio Pessoa via

The male Purple-breasted Cotinga can be recognized by its beautiful shining blue plumage with deep iridescent purple from the throat to the lower belly.

The blue and purple are offset by long, black tail, black around the eye, and some other black spots. The female has pale scaling on dark gray upperparts and some scaling on a buff belly and under tail. Both sexes can be recognized by these field marks and also have large, dark eyes.

The Purple-breasted Cotinga lives in the canopy of the Amazonian rainforest, mostly in northern Brazil, the Guianas, and adjacent Venezuela and Colombia.


#7 Purple-backed Thornbill

The Purple-backed Thornbill is a slender little hummingbird with a very short and straight black bill, and a small white spot behind the eye.

The male also has purple upperparts, a rather long, black, forked tail, a golden-green throat, and some green spotting on the underparts.

Female Purple-backed Thornbill lacks purple and is green above, has green spotting on white underparts, and a maroon tail with black and white on the tips of the tail feathers. The Purple-backed Thornbill can be recognized by these field marks as well as its short bill.

It lives at the edge of montane forest and shrubbery in the Andean Mountains from Venezuela to Boliva.


#6 Purple Starling

The Purple Starling is a fairly large, jay-sized bird with big, yellow-orange eyes on a shining purple face.

The rest of the head and underparts are glossy, purplish-blue, and the back and long wings are a glossy, bronze-green with some small black dots for wing bars.

Both sexes look the same, have large, black bills, and can be recognized by their large size, short tail, purple throat, pale eyes, and lack of a distinct dark patch behind the ear.

This beautiful bird lives in savanna and edge habitats in Africa from Senegal to Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.


#5 Violet Sabrewing

The Violet Sabrewing is a big, stunning hummingbird with a long, curved bill.

The male has iridescent blue-purple plumage with green on the lower back and in the shoulder of the dark wing. Meanwhile, the female is green above and gray below. Both sexes can be recognized by their curved bill, large size, and big white spots in the tail.

The Violet Sabrewing lives in montane forest and other tropical habitats in southern Mexico, and Central America to western Panama. This species also visit feeders.


#4 Violet-Backed Starling

The Violet-backed Starling is a fairly small starling species with long wings, a forked tail, and a medium-length bill.

The male is easily recognized by his stunning amethyst-colored upperparts, head, and breast, and snow-white underparts. The female is radically different and has dark streaks on reddish-buff upperparts, dark streaks on a buff throat, and white underparts.

The Violet-backed Starling is found in open woodlands, forest edges, and riparian forests in a large area of sub-Saharan Africa, and in parts of the western Arabian Peninsula.


#3 Varied Bunting

Varied Bunting

The Varied Bunting is a small, sparrow-sized bird with a finch-like bill. The male is easily recognized by his beautiful purple plumage with blue in the wing, tail, rump, and on the head.

He also has black near the eye and below the bill, and red behind the eye and on the back of the head. The female Varied Bunting is uniform pale gray-brown, paler on the belly. They lack wing bars shown by other female buntings.

The Varied Bunting mostly lives in Mexico but also occurs in thorny, scrubby habitats near in southern Arizona and Texas.


#2 Costa’s Hummingbird


The Costa’s Hummingbird is a tiny bird with a fairly long, straight bill and short tail. The male can be recognized by his iridescent purple crown and elongated throat patch (known as a “gorget”), the female by her rather straight bill, white underparts, and dry, ticking call notes.

Both sexes have green upperparts, some dull green on the underparts, and a bit of white behind the eye.

The Costa’s Hummingbird is a common hummingbird species of gardens and flowering vegetation in desert and other arid habitats in southern California, Arizona, and northwestern Mexico.


#1 Purple Martin

Purple Martin

Purple Martin is a big, hefty swallow species with a forked tail. The male is easily recognized by its dark purple plumage, whereas the female can be identified by her size, forked tail, and pale collar with grayish plumage above, and pale belly with gray markings on the breast and flanks.

The Purple Martin is a very social species and both sexes often occur together in flocks, sometimes, very large flocks during migration.

This friendly swallow breeds in parks, open woodlands, and places with martin boxes in southern Canada, the eastern USA, the Rocky Mountains, and along the Pacific coast. It mostly winters in the Amazon.

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

Let others know your thoughts or ask an expert

Would you like to get new articles of birds (Once a month?)

No SPAM! We might only send you fresh updates once a month

Thank you for subscribing!

No thanks! I prefer to follow BirdZilla on Facebook