Gogimogi’s Top 10 Most Fascinating Birds

We are Gogimogi, the Artistically Geeky Design House committed to the study of humor and color and inspired by nature.

Now, what the heck does that mean?  Well, it’s simple really.  We love the quirky characters that populate our incredibly diverse and wonderful world.  We focus our designs on the relationship between the physical characteristics of these creatures and their unique and often peculiar personalities.  Ultimately, we get to geek out and marvel over their extraordinariness and then embellish those characteristics to create our designs, making us the artistically geeky design house.

One of our favorite group of animals to study is birds.  Aside from their incredibly colorful plumage and dramatic lines, they often come fully equipped with fun personalities that make them the perfect source of inspiration.  Take the following list for example.  These guys are, in our opinion, some of the most fascinating birds we’ve learned about (so far).  As usual, we acknowledge the subjectivity of the term “fascinating” and remind our readers that we may alter or add to this list as we continue our studies.  However, for now, here is Gogimogi’s Top 10 Most Fascinating Birds List, in no particular order.

The Golden Pheasant

The golden pheasant, also known as the Chinese pheasant, is a large gamebird that belongs to the pheasant family.  It is native to China, but feral populations have been set up in many other parts of the world including North America.  While the female golden pheasant is not very colorful, the male is stunning with a golden crest and red and orange plumage.

Similar to other pheasants, the golden pheasant is not known for its flying skills and would rather walk or run to get around.  However, if startled, this bird is known to take flight and gain great height pretty quickly.  One interesting aspect is that their vibrant colors fade if they are exposed to the sun for too long, so they try to keep to shaded areas in the forest.  These birds are one of the most popular pheasants because of their beautiful plumage.  Rumor has it that even George Washington kept a golden pheasant at Mt. Vernon.

The Mandarin Duck

The male mandarin duck is one of the most striking birds out there.  They are a medium-sized perching duck (about 19 inches long with a wingspan of 30 inches).  They have one of the more boisterous courtships with the male duck doing a lot to draw his mate to him.  Everything from shaking vigorously, to drinking and dipping his bill, to whistling and barking to get that girl’s attention.

Rumor also has it that mandarin ducks mate for life (at least that’s what Chinese and Korean traditions tell us).  That’s why in these cultures the manadrin duck is considered a symbol of conjugal love and fidelity and is often given as a wedding gift.

The Schalow’s Turaco

The Schalow’s turaco belongs to the Musophagidae bird family (which literally means banana-eaters).  They are found in the forested and wooded areas of South Central Africa.  They have the longest crests among turacos often stretching longer than 3 inches!  Like other turacos, the Schalow’s turaco are social birds that don’t migrate and live in families of up to 10.  They are medium-sized birds (about 17 inches long and weigh anywhere between 0.5 to 0.83 pounds with the female on the more slender-side).  Their upper body is mostly green but becomes darker over the mantle and the wings.  Their flight feathers are crimson while their tails are bluish-black to violet.  Absolutely stunning.

The Atlantic Puffin

The Atlantic puffin, also known as the common puffin is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean.  They belong to the auk family of seabirds which are known for their ability to “fly” underwater.  Although they are excellent swimmers and divers, they are clumsy in their steps and have pretty much given up their flying abilities in exchange for agility in the water.

Although the Atlantic puffin has a large population, their numbers have declined rapidly in recent years and they have been ranked as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The Atlantic puffin is the official bird symbol of Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province.

The Grey Crowned Crane

The grey crowned crane is one of the most primitive birds of the Gruidae family.  Fossil records of this bird date back to the Eocene period (56 to 33.9 million years ago).  Although it is believed that at some point there were as many as eleven species of crowned cranes that spread across Europe and North America, their inability to cope with lower temperatures reduced their spread to the warmer African Savannah as the earth cooled.

Today, the grey crowned crane is found south of the Sahara near marshes, rivers and lakes.  They are about 3.3 feet tall and weigh around 7.7 lbs.  And they love to dance.  In fact, dancing is not only part of their courting ritual, but also something they do throughout the year.  They are, unfortunately, on the endangered species list.

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Named after the British Monarch Queen Victoria, this bluish-grey pigeon is native to New Guinea and is known for its magnificent lace-like crest.  The Victoria crowned pigeon is about 30 inches long and weighs 7.7 lbs, making it the largest surviving pigeon specie on earth.  They are social birds and travel in pairs or small parties as they look for food.  They love their fruit, especially figs.

The male Victoria crown pigeon courts the female by bowing before her and wagging his tail and singing to her.  He brings her sticks so she can build a nest for their one egg.  Both parents care for the chick for 13 weeks after it hatches.  The male Victoria crowned pigeon also engage in displays of dominance by puffing up their chests and raising their wings aggressively, but they can be pretty peaceful towards each other outside the mating season.  The IUCN has elevated their status to “near threatened” due to habitat loss and hunting.

The Long-Tailed Widowbird

The male long-tailed widowbird has one of the most ostentatious ornaments among perching birds.  While the female of the species is fairly inconspicuous, the male sports black feathers with orange and white shoulders and twelve tail-feathers.  Six to eight of these tail-feathers are almost 20 inches long!

When in-flight, these long tail feathers cascade beneath the bird creating the image of a creature worthy of epic fantasy novels.  While these ornaments are deemed hazardous to the long-tailed widowbird’s survival, they play a critical role in sexual selection with the longer-tailed males getting more action.

The Southern Cassowary

The southern cassowary lives in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia, New Guinea and Northeastern Australia.  It is the third-largest and second-heaviest bird on earth.  A fully grown adult can stand as high as 5’ 9” inches and can weigh up to 187 lbs.  A distinct horn-like brown casque that measures between 5.1 to 6.7 inches sits on top of its head.  They have three strong toes on each foot with deadly claws that can do serious harm when threatened.

The female of the species is more dominant with a larger body and casque.  She breeds with several partners during mating season.  Once she lays her eggs, she takes off while the father incubates and cares for the chicks.  During the first 50 days, the male cassowary never leaves the nest, not even to eat or drink or even to go to the bathroom.  He then spends the next 9 months raising the chicks and teaching them how to survive.

The southern cassowary have strange genitalia.  Both the male and the female have a phallic-looking appendage that is not connected to any of their reproductive organs.  The male also has a vagina-like cavity that he uses to tuck-away his pseudo-penis when he’s not mating.

The Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Native to the dry and semi-dry inlands of Australia, The Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is named after Scottish explorer Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell.  With its cotton-like white and pink plumage and its bright red and yellow crest, the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is often considered the most beautiful of the cockatoos.

These birds mate for life and have a pretty decent lifespan. The oldest recorded Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo lived to be 83 years old.

The Hoopoe

The hoopoe is a colorful bird with a beautiful, distinct crown that has a long and ancient cultural history.  The hoopoe was considered sacred in Ancient Egypt and was often drawn on tombs and temples.  They were also a symbol of virtue in Persia and are the closest real-life depiction of the mythical Persian bird Simurg.  Aside from their long historical significance, the hoopoe has an interesting personality that makes it one of the quirkiest of the birds (if that’s possible).  Their flight resembles that of a butterfly as their wings don’t close all the way.  They like to take long sunbaths by spreading their wings and tail.  They also indulge in sand and dust baths.

They are monogamous, but their relationships don’t tend to last longer than a season. They also have a smelly way of protecting their young.  The female hoopoe secretes a nasty liquid that smells like rotten meat which she rubs on her young in the nest.  This helps keep predators away.

The hoopoe is the national bird of Israel.

In all sincerity, we could keep going with this list.  There is the Himalayan monal, the paradise tanager, the hoatzin, the palm cockatoo, the Wilson’s bird of paradise, and thousands upon thousands of other fascinating birds that are wonderful sources of inspiration.  Guess we’re just going to have to keep making lists.

Check out gogimogi’s gallery to learn more about our nature-inspired whimsical characters and ideas on how to incorporate them into your home décor.  Or, you can always go for one of our designs on a t-shirt.  We’ll be releasing our adult silhouettes very soon.