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11 Dumbest Birds in the World (With Photos!)

Looking for the dumbest birds in the world? Here’s an interesting list of the least intelligent birds and why many consider them dumb birds.

While there are countless smart birds on our planet, we can surely name some idiot animals, too.

Today we’ll talk about the stupidest birds. Whether they don’t learn from their mistakes, make questionable choices, or simply don’t make logical decisions, these animals deserve to be put in the spotlight.

Ready to learn about a few quite idiot birds? Read on!

11 Dumbest Birds in the World

Here are the most idiot birds flying (or not) around our planet.

1. Kakapo

Kakapos are the dumbest birds in the world!
Kakapos are the dumbest birds in the world!

Kakapo birds, also known as owl parrots, are commonly found in New Zealand. 

Belonging to the Strigopidae family, kakapos are ground-dwelling birds with owl-like faces. On top of that, these birds are nocturnal and flightless.

Kakapos are one of the dumbest birds in the world because their evolution occurred in an environment without perceivable threats. 

Therefore, food was abundant, so they never had to fight for it or develop any skills to achieve it. 

In other words, their brains didn’t have a reason to develop. And hence, they have no defense mechanisms whatsoever, making them one of the stupidest birds alive. 

When a kakapo bird is scared, it might stay entirely still, climb up a tree, or jump out of it. But, since the kakapo can’t fly, it ends up on the ground, completely defenseless. Poor not-so-little bird!

2. Emu

Male emu with chicks
Male emu with chicks

Emus are the second largest birds in the world.

Also known by the scientific name Dromaius novaehollandiae, emus are largely found in Australia. These soft-feathered, flightless birds are said to be smarter than turkeys, but they still are idiot birds. 

While emus are stupid, they have long legs that can help them travel long distances and escape trouble whenever they want. 

Their sprints can span a distance of almost 30 miles an hour. Furthermore, their legs are powerful, which allows the bird to jump as high as 7 feet in the sky.

3. Ostrich

Ostrich running in desert

Ostriches are known for being the heaviest birds alive and also one of the dumbest birds in the world. 

This is because of the small size of their brain and the little to no intelligence they display. 

While ostriches have strong legs and are the second-fastest land animals, they have small wings and are flightless.

They run as fast as they can, but they run in circles, making them some of the dumbest birds known to humans.

Ostriches are also known for burying their heads in the sand in order to hide from incoming danger. However, this is false.

While they do not take extensive actions to protect themselves from danger, they drop down to the ground and stay still. 

This is helpful because of their lightly-colored heads and necks, which make it easy for them to blend in with the ground.

Did you know? Bird brain is a term used to address an unintelligent person.

4. Lilac-Breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted roller, a small bird

Lilac-breasted rollers, also known as the national bird of Kenya, are beautiful animals often considered to be one of the most colorful birds in the world.

Along with this title, they also garner the title for being one of the dumbest birds.

This is not just because of their vastly disproportionate body but also because they often hang around in highly exposed areas, allowing natural predators easy access to the birds.

These stupid birds are known for creating their nests in unusually high places and sitting on one branch for an extended period of time, making them likely targets of hunters and poachers.

Additionally, they like dust baths, which is exactly as weird as it sounds. While it does help them get rid of small pests, it also hinders their vision, rendering the bird vulnerable.

5. Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar nesting

Northern fulmars, known for looking like gulls, are generally found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific subarctic regions. 

These highly abundant seabirds are considered one of the least intelligent birds because they make incredibly questionable parenting decisions.

For example, the female fulmar birds only return once to the land to lay an egg. 

They will build a high nest right on the rocky ledges branched dangerously over the ocean, meaning they are not at all concerned about their egg safety. 

Not a wise decision for the continuation of species.

6. Turkey

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) on grass

Turkeys are somewhat more confused than outright dumb. 

They are incredibly social with other turkeys as well as humans. 

While they are considered to be some of the dumbest birds, scientists believe that this may be a misconception. 

They have gained a reputation for being stupid birds because of several reasons. 

For example, it’s believed that turkeys stare up at the sky during a rainstorm and drown that way, but this is a myth.

The primary reason for their “dumb” behavior is that they have a genetic condition called tetanic torticollar spasms

Turkeys have monocular vision. This means they have eyes on either side of their heads. 

While this allows them to focus on two things simultaneously, it doesn’t help them create a line of defense against potential predators.

7. Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis) on a branch covered with snow

Cardinals, also known as red birds, are called dumb birds mainly because they fly into glass windows with no perception of how it may harm them and continue to repeat this behavior multiple times.

These birds can’t figure out whether they can go to a particular place, so they constantly try to do it anyway. 

While some may call this animal behavior courageous, it only hurts the birds and startles the humans around them. Needless to say, the cardinals are dumb birds because they don’t learn from their mistakes.

Apart from this, they become very territorial during mating season. This means they end up fighting every bird they see as competition, even themselves, if they look in a mirror. 

This behavior is more common in male cardinals than female cardinals.

8. Killdeer

Killdeer on the rocks

Killdeers, also known as Charadrius vociferus, are large plover birds found in North America and along the Pacific coast of northern South America. 

They are considered some of the dumbest birds in the world because they leave themselves utterly defenseless in front of their predators. 

They don’t run because they have a non-existent flight response in the face of danger. Killdeers often scream, leaving them vulnerable to predators.

When their young face a potential threat, they scream and run toward the perceived predator. 

Then they pretend to have a broken wing, giving the predator the illusion that a defenseless bird is ready to be preyed upon. 

Once the killdeers make their actions believable, they quickly run back to their nests. Not the smartest decision, right?

9. Red-Necked Phalarope

Red necked phalarope

Red-necked phalaropes are commonly found in Britain, but these dumb birds are primarily migratory. 

While this may seem smart, red-necked phalaropes have a high mortality rate during travel. 

This is because of their extensive migratory route, often referred to as the second longest migratory route in the world. 

Most phalaropes spend the winter in the Arabian Sea after crossing Scandinavia, Russia, and the Middle East. 

Other populations will cross the Atlantic Ocean going from the northeastern Atlantic to the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, a 6,213-mile trip.

It’s safe to say that their sense of adventure is misguided and does not work to their advantage. 

Red-necked phalaropes are also known for rapidly spinning on the water to shake up invertebrates. 

These idiot birds can be characterized by the unique role reversal between male and female birds. 

Females are brighter than males and take leadership in courting their partners. Males are responsible for incubating eggs and taking care of their offspring.

10. Secretary Bird

Secretary bird closeup

The secretary birds are generally found in Africa. Although they are weird-looking birds, secretary birds are primarily terrestrial predatory birds of prey.

They have long legs and a black crest which makes them look dramatic, and are distinguished by their silly-looking appearance.

The name secretary bird comes from the attire of a male secretary back in the 1800s. 

While this may seem like a weird name, it’s appropriate because of the physical similarities between the birds and the secretaries, i.e., long, gray wings and black tail feathers that look like the pens they would place behind their ears.

Secretary birds are said to be related to vultures, buzzards, harriers, and kites. 

However, secretary birds don’t fly as much as their distant relatives do. This does not mean that they don’t fly at all. As a matter of fact, they are great at flying and often nest high up in thorny acacia trees.

11. Dodo

Statue of extinct dodo bird in museum
Dodo bird – Photo by Michael Coghlan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dodos, also known as Raphus cucullatus, are extinct flightless birds found on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. They don’t have any living relatives.

The name dodo comes from the Portuguese word doido, which means fool or crazy. However, the name dodo may also stem from the fact that these idiot birds were incapable of speech.

The reason dodos are considered to be one of the dumbest birds in the world is that they never understood the concept that humans may be their common predators because of the lack of exposure to human contact in their environment in Madagascar.

Their minimal contact with humans revealed that they never developed a flight response to possible predators. 

For example, according to records, if these stupid birds were ever alarmed by a sound, they would move toward the noise instead of away from it.

Therefore, dodos quickly became easy prey for humans and intrusive animals. 

While some studies suggest that dodos were not as dumb as people thought, they are based on mere speculation. There is no way to confirm whether dodos were dumb birds or even half as intelligent as other species.

Final Words on Dumbest Animals

While these not-so-smart bird species may have a bad reputation, they are cute and beautiful birds in their own way.

In truth, producing an index of bird intelligence is pretty challenging when “there are relatively few studies on bird cognition.”

The animal kingdom is a never-ending field of study, and these dumb birds might surprise us someday. Who knows!

That’s it for today on idiot birds. Please help us spread the word and share this article on your social media!

11 Dumbest Birds in the World

1. Kakapo

2. Emu

3. Ostrich

4. Lilac-Breasted Roller

5. Northern Fulmar

6. Turkey

7. Cardinal

8. Killdeer

9. Red-Necked Phalarope

10. Secretary Bird

11. Dodo