Flowers That Look Like Birds

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No – it’s a flower!” I stole this quote because fluttering hummingbirds, robins, and sparrows in a garden are beautiful to behold. They bring our green haven alive with their sweetness and chirping.

But you can have many more birds in your flower beds and borders, or even indoors, as you think… Yes, because Nature is very creative, and many flowers mimic the shapes and even the colors of actual birds! Some are so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart.

Flowers that look like birds are not just a “novelty item,” a quirky twist in gardens, homes, and offices…

Children love them because they are playful, and guests are wowed by them, starting conversations. Then there’s always the pleasure of having a work of art signed by Mother Nature herself.

And if you want to choose a variety that looks like a bird you like, or one that you think is most like a real bird, you can check out our top 10 of the best bird-lookalike flowers ever. A spoiler – many will be orchids.

Why do Some Flowers Mimic Birds?

Flowers are nature’s way of attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. But some flowers have evolved to look like birds instead.

One theory is that flowers that mimic birds are more likely to be visited by real birds, which are more effective pollinators than insects. Another theory is that flowers that mimic birds are less likely to be visited by herbivores, which would damage the flowers in the process.

Whatever the reason, flowers that look like birds are a fascinating example of evolution in action. And the next time you see a flower that looks like a bird, you’ll know just why it looks that way.

10 Plants With Stunning Birds Like Flowers

Now you will see them fly before your eyes, ready? Let’s start!

The bird-like flowers are always a pleasure to see, and they add a touch of nature to any garden or room. Here are some of the most gorgeous blooms that look just like a bird to add a touch of avian beauty to your garden.

1: Large Duck Orchid (Calaena major

No, you are not looking at a tiny duckling with wings; instead, this is a flower in the shape of a large duck orchid. The labellum appears as a bird’s head, complete with a tuft on its head and attached to a long neck.

So far, it is very credible, and two actual legs accompany the plump body on the sides. The tail is made up of the petiole, which is green, unlike the bloom, which is mostly in shiny shades of purple or violet blue.

But then you may wonder how it can fly on such thin, tiny wings. This fantastic orchid is like a cartoon version of a duck, but a very credible one! It also has one single prostrate leaf, another unusual trait.

Growing a large duck orchid in Australia is not easy; it is very tricky, and some say that it is almost impossible. But if you want to give it a try, you will need a lot of patience and some good luck.

  • Hardiness: N/A; Brown outside its native regions, this plant does best outdoors.
  • Light exposure: Full Sun or partial shade, bright indirect light indoors.
  • Blooming season: September to January.
  • Size: 8 to 16 inches tall and in spread (20 to 40 cm).
  • Soil requirements: humus-rich, well-drained loam or sand-based soil with mildly acidic pH. Keep it evenly humid, adapting to the temperature and climate.

2: Bird of Paradise (Sterlitzia reginae)

Colorful, exotic, and aptly named, this perennial from South Africa looks like the head of a bird of paradise. The vast blooms can reach 10 inches long (25 cm), and the pointed sepal at the bottom is like a beak, green to purplish sometimes with a red upper edge.

You come across a petal that is blue but appears violet, and it points forward. You also notice a series of nearby petals that are bright orange and resemble feathers. These types of flowers usually come in shades of orange, yellow, or white.

Packed with nectar, they attract lots of hummingbirds and pollinators. The massive leaves are long and pointed, very waxy and shiny, and deep green, forming a thick tropical-looking clump.

One of the most striking flowers in the world, the bird of paradise is a show-stopping exotic beauty for large borders or as a specimen plant. Still, it will only grow outdoors in warm countries, and it makes an excellent and sought-after cut flower because the blossom lasts for weeks!

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 12.
  • Light exposure: Full Sun or partial shade.
  • Blooming season: early spring to early fall.
  • Size: 4 to 6 feet tall (1.2 to 1.8 meters) and 3 to 4 feet in spread (90 to 120 cm).
  • Soil requirements: fertile, well-drained, and evenly humid loam-based soil with slightly acidic to neutral pH.

3: Green Birdflower (Crotalaria cunninghamii)

You would be forgiven if you confused a green bird flower for a real little flying bird with wings and all!

Attached by their beaks to a slender and pale stem, the blooms look like they are in the air, with wings partly open and a lovely pointed tail.

These are all lined, highlighting the shape of the flower, which also has a black eye! Usually lime to pale green in color, some have a purple to almost black blush by the shoulders of this woodpecker lookalike.

Yes, because it also has a tuft of feathers on its little head. Appearing to flutter among the broad, bright green, and fuzzy foliage, these tiny creatures are a real spectacle.

A native of Australia, you can actually have a green bird flower in your garden if you live in the Southern States or a warm region, where it can grow into a fairly large shrub. It will always wow your visitors and be a topic of conversation at parties.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 11.
  • Light exposure: full Sun.
  • Blooming season: usually March, but it can bloom till fall.
  • Size: 8 to 12 feet tall (2.4 to 3.6 meters) and 10 to 12 feet in spread (3.0 to 3.6 meters).
  • Soil requirements: well-drained, dry to lightly humid sand-based soil with pH from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline. It is fairly drought-tolerant once established.

4: White Egret Flower (Pecteilis radiata

Picture the typical image of a dove of peace: that’s precisely what white egret flower blooms look like! This mind-blowing orchid from China, Japan, Korea, and Russia appears to be flying in the sky with fringed wings, a lovely elegant head with a beak, and a dovetail as well.

At the base of this, you will find the actual mouth of the flower, with its nectar and a canary yellow spot. The foliage is exquisite, fleshy, and glossy, mid-green in color.

This species is often confused with the western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) from North America, but this last one does not look so much like a bird…

Best grown indoors, the white egret flower is a beautiful but rare variety, ideal for elegant coffee tables, offices, or as a puzzling centerpiece to draw your guest’s attention. Outdoors it is suitable for bog gardens and pond areas.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 6 to 10.
  • Light exposure: Full Sun or partial shade outdoors, bright indirect light indoors.
  • Blooming season: late summer.
  • Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and in spread (30 to 60 cm).
  • Soil requirements: humus-rich, well-drained, and evenly humid sand-based soil with pH from mildly acidic to neutral. It is wet soil tolerant.

5: Parrot Flower (Impatiens psitticana)

A rare species of impatiens from Southeast Asia, the parrot flower looks like what it says on the tin. The flowers have a green bent beak, and they hang, like flying, on the tick and upright stems by very thin, almost invisible petioles that attach to the back of the bird-like bloom.

The petals form two small wings and a lovely tail containing shades of purple, lavender, violet, white, and magenta. These are fairly small, 2 inches long (5.0 cm), so you must get close to appreciate their unusual exotic look.

The broad elliptical leaves are bright green and veined, making the perfect tropical backdrop for this fluttering display. So it’s surprising that they don’t speak.

Parrot flowers would be great for foundation planting so that you can admire the little birds outside your window. It is now becoming more available in garden centers and nurseries.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 11 and above.
  • Light exposure: partial shade.
  • Blooming season: mid-fall.
  • Size: 2 to 4 feet tall and in spread (60 to 120 cm).
  • Soil requirements: fertile, well-drained, and evenly humid loam-based soil with mildly acidic pH.

6: Dove Orchid (Peristeria elata)

Dove Orchid

Dove or Holy Ghost orchid is a sweet and candid bird-like species from Central America, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The petals are very fleshy, succulent looking, and candid white. They form a backdrop for the unusual labellum you find in the center.

How can we describe it… It is the perfect 3D reproduction of a flying dove seen below, with a head, beak, wings, and a broad, rounded tail.

Sugar white as well, it also has a series of magenta-purple dots that make its shape easier to appreciate. These come in dense clusters on long upright stems, and the leathery, broad, and long leaves add a green touch to this display.

Ideal as a houseplant, a dove orchid brings a gentle but unusual touch to any room or office space, and it is not even that difficult to find

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 11 and above.
  • Light exposure: bright indirect light.
  • Blooming season: spring.
  • Size: 2 to 3 feet tall (60 to 90 cm) and 1 foot in spread (30 cm).
  • Soil requirements: use a well-drained medium like peat or sphagnum moss or substitute with added perlite; the pH should be slightly acidic, and you should keep it evenly humid but not wet.

7: ‘Songbirds’ Barrelwort (Epimedium ‘Songbirds’)

You can have a packed swarm of tiny flying birds in your garden by growing ‘Songbirds’ barrenwort… It fills with a sea of small elegant flowers that look like swallows or swifts from a certain angle.

With long and pointed petal wings are in shades from yellow-greenish to golden to pink and pale magenta… And they seem to hover in the air because the stems are so thin you can’t actually see them.

This impressive show will only last a few weeks, like thrushes filling the night sky once a year… But even after the blooms are spent, the long, thin decorative foliage can be a good asset to your garden. 

“Songbirds” barrenwort is perfect as ground cover on slopes, banks, and underplanting but also in beds or borders. It is the easiest to grow of all bird-like flowers.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 5 to 8.
  • Light exposure: partial shade or full shade.
  • Blooming season: mid and late spring.
  • Size: 1 to 2 feet tall (30 to 60 cm) and 2 to 3 feet in spread (60 to 90 cm).
  • Soil requirements: average fertile, well-drained, and dry to medium humid loam, chalk, or sand-based soil with pH from mildly acidic to neutral.

8: Callista Primula (Dendrobium primulinum)

Callista Primula

Callista primula is not a primrose as the name suggests, but an orchid, and it is not a bird as it may seem, but a flower… In fact, the large oval and frilled labellum look like an open tail, almost like a peacock.

But then again, the bloom looks like it is flying because they are similar to flapping wing, dove-like if you want. The colors can range from white, yellow, and lavender to purple violet patches and veins, according to the exact variety.

These come in clusters on long and trailing stems, while the glossy, leathery, and exotic foliage stays up above this amazing display.

Callista primula is just perfect for hanging baskets! With its stems filled with bird-lookalike flowers, coming down from above to drape and hang from above, it is just a spectacle!

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 10 to 11.
  • Light exposure: bright indirect light; morning and evening light but shade during the sunniest hours from spring to autumn.
  • Blooming season: winter to summer.
  • Size: up to feet long and in spread (60 cm).
  • Soil requirements: well-drained generic potting soil mixed with shredded coconut, lightly humid but never soggy, with mildly acidic pH.

9: Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)

Yulan magnolia is known for a strange habit… When the blooms are about to open, they look like perching birds. They appear to have a small beak and wings and often a little black dot like the eye of a little chick.

These are white to magenta in the shade but what is even more striking is that they seem to come out of a fluffy egg that has just cracked open!

The branches of this elegant evergreen tree are graced with delicate wing-like petals that, upon opening, seem like birds taking flight from their nest. Later on, the mid-green, broad-veined foliage will take center stage and provide a bit of shade in your garden.

Common in Buddhist gardens, Yulan magnolia is an ideal specimen plant, and it adapts to many gardening styles, from humble cottage gardens to exotic and oriental designs. Even in a formal garden, it would not look amiss. It is also a winner of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 5 to 8.
  • Light exposure: Full Sun or partial shade.
  • Blooming season: winter and early spring.
  • Size: 30 to 40 feet tall and in spread (9.0 to 12 meters).
  • Soil requirements: organically rich, well-drained, and evenly humid loam, clay, or sand-based soil with pH from mildly acidic to neutral.

10: Provence Orchid (Orchis provincialis)

The flowers on that stem look like tiny white hummingbirds at first glance, but they are actually orchids from Provence. Provence is a region south of France located on the Mediterranean coast.

The flowers with open wings flutter and are pretty spaced out. If you look at them from the back, you’ll see winglets that are cream-colored with a soft-looking tail and a long neck. Okay, they don’t resemble any species of bird we know; they’re more like a mix between a swan and a bird of paradise.

If you take an even closer look, you’ll notice little purple dots on the upper part of their tails- those are labellums. Each plant can have up to 30 of them!

The oblong and lanceolate leaves are green with purplish dots and beautifully arranged in a lovely rosette too.

The Provence orchid is a stunning addition to any garden and can even be grown indoors. It is a playful and unusual variety that will add something special to your home.

  • Hardiness: USDA zones 6 to 8.
  • Light exposure: bright indirect light indoors, full Sun or partial shade (in hot countries) outdoors.
  • Blooming season: March to June.
  • Size: 8 to 16 inches tall (20 to 40 cm) and up to 1 foot in spread (30 cm).
  • Soil requirements: average fertile, well-drained, evenly humid but not wet loam-based soil with mildly acidic pH

Flowers That Fly (or Perch) Just Like Birds

The beauty of these flowers is that they tickle the imagination and give you pictures of birds, from doves to parrots, and they are very unusual and intriguing indeed.

You can grow them to provoke conversation or just because you like them. But one thing remains above all: they all remind us of the amazing creativity of Mother Nature!

Do you have a favorite flower that looks like a bird? Let us know in the comments below!

Adriano Bulla

Written By

Adriano Bulla

After many years as an academic in London, Adriano Bulla became a writer, publishing books like A History of Gardening, Organic Gardening and Elements of Garden Design; he then decided to become a gardener, following his childhood dream, and has been following his dream writing and gardening professionally in Southern Europe, where he has specialized in new and innovative organic gardening fields and techniques, like permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests and hydroponics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.