Do Birds Change Color? How? Why?
It’s Super Interesting!

Have you ever thought about how birds can change their colors? You would be amazed after knowing about it!

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David A. Swanson

October 20, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Colorful birds are peaceful guests that often visit our backyards and never cease to fascinate us. These birds are also found in the wild, spotted when you least expect to come across one. Their mixed hues add color to our world.

Birds are warm-blooded creatures categorized into different species, and each of these species has different colored plumage with patterned feathers covering their dainty bodies.

Although they’re very colorful, we have yet to find out whether they change color or not. And, if that’s even possible. So, keep on reading to find out more!

Birds don’t precisely change color, but they undergo a natural process known as molting, which allows them to shed old, dull feathers and replace them with more vibrant ones. Birds’ feathers also change naturally as they mature.


All You Need to Know About Birds!

Birds are monogamous; it is said that about ninety percent of the bird population is monogamous. Once they form a bond, they mate till one (or both) of them passes away. Their life stages are pretty fascinating as they grow up; their feathers also start changing color, which stops when they have fully matured.

Many birds shed their feathers, and ten new feathers are grown in different colors and patterns. The change in color of birds is due to their molting process in which there is a replacement of old feathers with newer ones.


Birds communicate with one another through songs, call notes, and body language. It could vary depending on what they are trying to communicate to other birds.

What Birds Change Color?

Birds are terrestrial beings that are capable of changing their colors. There are many different colors and patterns on birds that help them recognize others. Here are some birds that change their color from time to time.

  • Gorget
  • Rock Ptarmigan
  • Surakav
  • Parakeets
  • Willow Ptarmigan

1. Gorget


On the throat and upper breast, the Gorget has a patch of different colors. The exposure of Gorget feathers to the sun produces changes in its colors.

Moreover, as they age, just like any other bird, the feathers’ colors fade away, and a new layer of the plumage grows.

For example, Gorget has feathers of rose-red color, and when they age, they shed away all their previous feathers, and new coppery bronze-colored feathers are produced.

Also, whenever the melanin granules absorb colors, they scatter different colors back to the observer’s eye.

2. Rock Ptarmigan


Rock Ptarmigan belongs to the grouse family and is a unique bird. Unlike other bird species, it has three seasonal plumages. Isn’t that amazing?

It is a medium-sized bird. In winters, Rock Ptarmigan have white color feathers, which are often seen before the summer season starts, and later they have new brown-colored feathers.

The male Ptarmigan is entirely white except for its black tail feathers and eye line in winters and then changes its color before the arrival of summer or spring.

In the same way, Female Rock Ptarmigans change their color during the breeding season. The pattern of their feathers becomes black, brown, and gold.

3. Surakav


Surakav is one of the most exciting birds to view for its color-changing abilities. It is a very expensive bird for its notable changes in its color within a few seconds. Surakav is a bird that reveals different colors whenever it is viewed from a different angle.

When the sun rays fall on the feathers of Surakav, some sunlight is reflected, and some is absorbed. The layer of feathers that reflect sunlight give off different colors, whereas the absorbed sunlight reveals the shades of inner layers.

4. Parakeets


The color change in Parakeets helps in differentiating between the mature male and female Parakeets. The color changes in Parakeets are typical and expected. The parakeet’s nostril right above their beak changes color as well. The cere’s color does not vary, but it is usually the sign of some disease or illness if it does.

Female Parakeets change their color to tan, pale blue, white, or brown. In contrast, the male Parakeets change their color to bright and vivid blue. But, some male Parakeets also change their color to purple, or sometimes even turn pink. 


Parakeets love to ring bells and talk to their reflection in the mirror.

5. Willow Ptarmigan


Willow Ptarmigans change their color with the seasonal changes. The male plumage of Willow Ptarmigans has a plumage marbled brown color and a reddish hue on the neck and breast.

Other than this, they have white wings and black tails, and underparts. In addition, willow Ptarmigan has a red-colored comb above each eye, becoming more reddish and prominent during the breeding season.

Willow Ptarmigans are ground-dwelling birds for which they should be clever because, in winters, their color changes from white to molt, and then it changes to brown during the summer season.

What Is the Reason Behind Birds Changing Their Colors?

The mechanism of coloration in birds mainly depends on the process of molting and replacing their feathers. The molting and feathers replacement takes place during the change of season and weather.

Moreover, the color changes in a bird’s feather can be due to molting, pigmentation, or refraction of light caused by the feathers’ structure. This plumage coloration in birds helps in saving themselves from predators.


Why Do Baby Birds Change Their Color As They Get Older?

The change in coloration of baby birds is a signal of maturing. As a baby bird grows, its color changes. This color change in birds is evident by monitoring their plumage.

The plumage refers to the changes in color and denotes the changes in the pattern of feathers. These changes can be related to age, classes, or species.


As the birds mature and are ready to breed, their color often changes at that time. During the maturation period, the color changes show their process of becoming adults.

Why Do Some Birds Change Their Color During The Breeding Season?

The bright and intense colors of birds help in attracting other birds for mating. Both males and female birds are easily attracted to each other through pretty attractive colors.

Moreover, this color-changing phenomenon during the breeding season is a survival tactic used by birds. In addition, the color change is a sign of the evolution of birds.


Does The Color of a Bird’s Beak Fade After Death?

Yes, the color of a bird’s beak fades away after it dies. However, it may also fade away before death. The color that fades away during life can be due to aging, malnutrition, fungal infections, or injury. Sometimes the color may become so pale that it does not resemble the natural color.

After the bird’s death, the color fades away as the keratin flakes off, and since the bird is dead, there will be no more keratin production in them which ultimately leads to the beak turning white.


Keep Reading!

Birds are beautiful creatures that add a pop of color to our monotonous world, and some are so colorful that they will blow you away.

This post extensively covered how some birds are not just very colorful, but rather how they change color over time as they mature.

Birds are beautiful and colorful creatures, and their colors add much beauty to nature. Now that you know how and why birds change color, you’ll probably wonder what other exciting things these little creatures are capable of.

If reading on birds interests you, you must read this post about 9 astonishing birds with really big eyes.

9 Astonishing Birds with Big Eyes That You'll Love!

Have you ever come across birds with big eyes flying over your backyard? If so, continue reading to find out what birds have big eyes!

David A. Swanson Picture

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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