Top 10 Most Expensive Types of Birds in the World


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Types-of-Birds

Birds are diverse animals, and there are about 10,000 unique species populating this planet. But some birds are common (and affordable), while others are scarce and extremely expensive. Still, which birds cost the most?

The most expensive type of bird is the racing pigeon. In 2019, a racing pigeon called Armando set a new record by selling at auction for $1.4 million. Racing pigeons are prized for their speed, agility, and ability to remember specific flight routes.

The average pet store parakeet only costs between $15 and $50, but some birds are worth thousands! This ranking will reveal which avian species fetch the highest prices.

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Types of Birds in the World:

  1. Racing Pigeons – Up to $1.4 million
  2. Spix’s Macaws – $200,000
  3. Penguins – Up to $22,000
  4. Black Palm Cockatoos – $19,000+
  5. Ostriches – Up to $14,000
  6. Hyacinth Macaws – $12,000+
  7. Toucans – Up to $10,000
  8. Flamingos – Up to $3,500
  9. Ayam Cemani Chickens – $2,500
  10. White Peacocks – Up to $1,500

10. White Peacocks – Up to $1,500

White-Peacock

White peacocks (also called white peafowls) have symbolized wealth, royalty, and power for centuries. As such, it’s not uncommon for affluent buyers to buy several dozen to keep on their lavish estates.

But if you’re thinking of doing as the wealthy do, you might want to think again. The price for these splendidly feathered birds can be up to $1,500, making them much pricier than common birds like parakeets and finches.

For perspective, the most expensive turkey species only costs about $350 per pound!

Why It’s Expensive

Peacock feathers are undeniably luxurious due to their vibrant colors, but white peacocks don’t have the same blue-eyed feather design and coloration. So, why are they so expensive?

The answer comes down to:

  • Rarity, and
  • Association

White peacocks are the result of genetic mutations, most notably albinism. Consequently, they’re far rarer than standard green-and-blue peacocks.

But these elegant alabaster birds also have a long history of being owned and flaunted by the wealthiest and most powerful people around the globe. Because they’re associated with wealth, breeders can afford to charge jaw-dropping prices for them.

9. Ayam Cemani Chickens – $2,500

Ayam-Cemani-Chickens

Raising backyard chickens is a relatively affordable venture, and it’s a fantastic way to enjoy farm-fresh chicken eggs and meat without having to leave home. Most of these common chickens cost less than $50 per bird, with chicks often costing far less (sometimes less than $1 apiece).

But the Ayam Cemani is no ordinary backyard chicken. This black-feathered bird can set you back $2,500! It’s the most expensive chicken breed in the world.

Why It’s Expensive

The Ayam Cemani is costlier than any other chicken, and it’s not too challenging to understand why.

This bird is exceedingly rare, with true Ayam Cemani chickens only originating from Indonesia. The meat of the Ayam Cemani is also considered a delectable treat, with many of the world’s finest gourmet restaurants spending tons of money to acquire a few black-hued Ayam Cemani breasts and thighs.

8. Flamingos – Up to $3,500

Flamingos

Pink flamingoes are some of the most iconic birds in North America. Their slender legs and bubblegum-pink feathers have made them a fascination for bird lovers worldwide. They’ve even inspired some of the most recognizable bits of Americana decor ever; the plastic lawn flamingo!

But owning a real flamingo can cost you.

These birds can cost up to $3,500 apiece, and many states throughout the US have strict restrictions against owning wild-born flamingos. Because these tropical birds aren’t the most common domestic species, finding one for sale (legally) is sure to be a challenge.

Why It’s Expensive

In most cases, you’ll need a special permit to own a flamingo. Once you’ve jumped that hurdle, you’ll also need to find a reputable breeder willing to sell you one of these birds!

You’ll also need to provide a warm and water-rich environment for your flamingo, which can cost a small fortune in terms of landscaping. These pink birds are costly because they’re uncommon, often illegal to own, and have expensive care needs.

7. Toucans – Up to $10,000

Toucan

If you’ve ever strolled down the cereal aisle of a North American supermarket, you’ve likely seen a toucan. Or, at least, a cartoon toucan.

These big-beaked birds, associated with rainforests and tropical locations, are some of the most easily recognizable in the world thanks to their brightly-colored beaks. These beaks are often about the same size as the bird itself!

Still, owning a toucan isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it’s not cheap. A single toucan can cost up to $10,000, not including importation fees and care costs.

Why It’s Expensive

Keeping a toucan as a pet means applying for special licenses and permits. In this way, owning a toucan is much like owning a flamingo; it can be a legal nightmare.

But these birds, native to the rainforests in South America, are also comparatively rare. This rarity (coupled with the bird’s notoriety and popularity) makes toucans quite the expensive pet bird.

6. Hyacinth Macaws – $12,000+

Hyacinth-Macaws

Macaws and cockatoos are some of the most popular choices in terms of pet ownership. But not all subspecies are equally priced.

For example, if you’re looking to own a blue-feathered Hyacinth macaw, you can expect to spend upwards of $12,000!

Conservation efforts are helping the Hyacinth macaw population grow, but this bird is endangered. Sadly, wildlife experts estimate that there might only be a few thousand of these birds living in the wild today.

Why It’s Expensive

The primary reason these blue-and-yellow macaws are so expensive is scarcity. If the population of wild and captive Hyacinth macaws increases, the price for this bird might fall.

5. Ostriches – Up to $14,000

Ostrich

Several of the world’s most expensive pillows are filled to the brim with decadently soft feathers, including ostrich feathers. But if you’d like a personal source of soft, cushiony ostrich feathers, you may be in for a bit of a surprise.

Adopting an ostrich isn’t cheap, especially when working with a reputable breeder. Though you might find an ostrich breeder willing to sell you a live bird for only a few hundred dollars, ostriches can cost up to $14,000 per bird!

Why It’s Expensive

Many pet bird species are small and relatively easy to transport. But ostriches are massive, with some weighing more than 300lbs (136kg). As such, the cost to transport an ostrich is far higher than the cost to transport a finch or parakeet.

But transport costs aren’t the only reason ostriches are pricey. Ostrich meat (also called ostrich steak) is a delicacy in many areas, and these birds aren’t often kept as pets.

Consequently, those in the market for an ostrich are often hoping to start their own ostrich farm, which could be quite profitable. Breeders understand this and can increase prices to restrict access to the ostrich farming market.

4. Black Palm Cockatoos – $19,000+

Black-Palm-Cockatoos

Black Palm Cockatoos (also called Goliath Cockatoos) hail from Australia and are some of the most unique cockatoos money can buy. They’re also some of the priciest, with some selling for upwards of $19,000.

These big birds have jet-black feathers and a bright red spot behind their beak, and they’re quite intelligent creatures. However, breeding these birds is challenging, as Black Palm Cockatoos have specific breeding requirements that make them challenging to breed in captivity.

So, if you’d like to adopt one, be prepared to spend thousands on customized habitat items!

Why It’s Expensive

Cockatoos are some of the most popular types of pet birds. After all, they’re smart, live far longer than small songbirds, and can make excellent companions.

But the Black Palm Cockatoo is a rare variety of cockatoo and has comparatively extreme care requirements. Because of these qualities, adopting one can quickly get pricey.

3. Penguins – Up to $22,000

Penguins

It’s often easy to forget that penguins are birds. After all, they spend nearly all their time shuffling around the icy ground or swimming in cool waters.

But when it comes to high-priced birds, penguins are challenging to forget. It might be possible to obtain one of these adorable birds for a few thousand dollars, but adopting a penguin could also cost as much as $22,000!

And that’s not to mention the cost of keeping and caring for a penguin. Remember, because these birds generally live in cold environments, you’d likely need to create an ice-cold habitat (complete with a swimming pool) to keep a pet penguin happy.

Why It’s Expensive

Penguins aren’t your average pet store bird. Most live in Antarctica, a region notoriously inhospitable and challenging to visit. So obtaining a penguin (especially legally) already costs a small fortune in travel fees.

But when you add the fact that many countries prohibit the private ownership of these fish-loving birds, you end up with a species that can easily sell for big bucks on private (and sometimes illegal) markets.

2. Spix’s Macaws – $200,000

Spix's-Macaws
photo source: Jamie Love

The story of the Spix’s macaw is a sad one. This beautiful blue bird once lived in large numbers throughout the forested areas of Brazil. But because human activities removed most of its natural habitat, the wild Spix’s macaws are essentially as rare as unicorns.

There might be fewer than 200 Spix’s macaws alive today. These birds are raised and bred in captivity, the result of intensive conservation efforts.

Because the Spix’s macaw is so endangered, breeding and selling this species to private buyers is illegal. But that doesn’t stop some from doing just that, with some Spix’s macaws selling for $200,000 on the black market.

Why It’s Expensive

First and foremost, let’s clarify that we’re not encouraging you to try and obtain a Spix’s macaw. Not only is private ownership of these endangered bird species highly illegal, but it’s also detrimental to conservation efforts.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to address the primary reasons this unique macaw is so costly:

  • Rarity, and
  • Beauty

Any animal that’s considered endangered or nearly extinct is valuable due to its scarcity. But the Spix’s macaw is also incredibly beautiful, with royal blue plumage that catches the eye.

In fact, this bird is so beloved that it inspired the 2011 animated film Rio.

1. Racing Pigeons – Up to $1.4 Million

Racing-Pigeons

The most expensive type of bird is the racing pigeon. These birds typically cost thousands of dollars, but they can sell for much higher prices.

Armando, a racing pigeon bred and sold by Joel Verschoot in 2019, sold for $1.4 million when it went to auction. This bird was prized for its speed and ability to fly a specific route, allowing it to compete (and more than often win) pigeon-racing competitions.

The irony of a pigeon being the priciest bird in the world is quite sweet, as common pigeons are often considered a pest throughout much of the world.

Why It’s Expensive

Though some birds are expensive because they’re rare and challenging to acquire, racing pigeons are pricey because of their breeding histories and abilities.

Like carrier pigeons, racing pigeons are trained to fly specific paths. But unlike carrier pigeons, they’re bred for speed and agility, allowing them to complete courses quickly.

Though pigeon racing competitions might not be common throughout North America, they’re exceptionally popular throughout Asia and parts of Europe. Consequently, affluent buyers in these regions are often more than happy to drop enormous sums of money on high-quality racing pigeons.

What Makes Some Birds So Expensive?

The priciest birds can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more)! But what is it about some bird species that makes them such a costly commodity?

There are a handful of factors that influence a bird’s value. Some of the most crucial of these include:

  • Capabilities
  • Rarity and legality
  • Habitat and care

Capabilities

Many animals are the product of human intervention. For example, there wouldn’t be nearly as many dog breeds if humans hadn’t spent thousands of years purposely breeding dogs to create pups with specific traits and characteristics.

Though birds aren’t quite as domesticated as other animals, nearly every species has been impacted by humankind’s existence, for better or worse. For an example of the latter, check out the story of the infamously doomed Dodo Bird.

Racing pigeons, the most expensive types of bird in the world, are one of the few domestication success stories. These birds are bred by and for humans, resulting in a distinct type of pigeon capable of flying quickly and remembering specific routes.

In this way, racing pigeons are similar to carrier pigeons. But they’re much faster and more agile, making them more capable creatures than their message-carrying counterparts.

This ability (or capability) makes racing pigeons uniquely valuable, as their owners can use them to compete in races and (potentially) win impressive prizes.

Rarity and Legality

Not all birds are openly for sale, and those protected by environmental laws and regulations can cost a pretty penny. The Spix’s macaw is a fantastic example.

Because these birds are endangered, capturing and selling them is highly illegal.

That doesn’t stop enterprising poachers, though. Consequently, there’s a thriving black market bird trade that features many birds that would otherwise be impossible to own.

And the rarer and more protected the bird, the higher the price.

Habitat and Care

Small songbirds like finches might only require a medium-sized cage, access to fresh water, and a small amount of seed-filled food. But other birds need lots of open space to run around in (like ostriches and emus) or specific environmental conditions to survive.

The “needier” a bird is in terms of its habitat and care, the pricier it’s bound to be.

This relationship might be a blessing in disguise, as birds with higher-than-average care needs generally cost a small fortune in terms of upkeep. If these birds only cost a few hundred dollars, new owners might quickly find that they can’t afford to provide the best possible food, care, and environment.

In short, if it only cost $100 to adopt a penguin, there’d probably be a lot of neglected and poorly cared for penguins running around!

What’s the Most Expensive Bird in the World?

The most expensive types of birds are racing pigeons. The priciest of the bunch is Armando, a Joel Verschoot bird that sold for about $1.4 million in 2019.

Although these birds might look like common street pigeons, they’re the product of years (sometimes decades) of careful breeding. Buyers in Asia, particularly China, are often the most willing to invest big bucks in racing pigeons.

The world is full of expensive and interesting plants and animals. Learn more about them now!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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