25+ Birds with Red Head (With Pictures)

If you see a bird with a red head while birding, hiking trails, or just hanging out in your backyard, you’ll want to know how to recognize it.

Woodpeckers, the Cherry-headed Conure, tanagers, redpolls, and northern cardinals are all examples of birds with vivid red heads full of feathers.

Observing apparent characteristics such as form and color is one of the most effective techniques for recognizing new birds. If you’ve seen a red-headed bird in the United States, your options have been significantly reduced.

We’ll describe every red-headed bird you’re likely to encounter in this article.

Have you seen a red-headed bird that you’d want to identify?

25+ Birds with Red Head
25+ Birds with Red Head

Surely it can’t be that difficult, but with so many red-headed birds to choose from, how are you meant to know where to begin?

These are the most common red-headed birds, as well as others with red on their heads or necks are

Name Scientific Name
Cassin’s Finch Haemorhous cassinii
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
Red-faced Warbler Cardellina rubrifrons
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Vermillion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Hairy Woodpecker Dryobates villosus
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber
Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Purple Finch Haemorhous purpureus
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Redhead Duck Aythya americana
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea
Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus
Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator

Cassin's FinchCassin’s Finch
House FinchHouse Finch
Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal
Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Western TanagersWestern Tanager
Red-faced WarblerRed-faced Warbler
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker
Barn SwallowBarn Swallow
Vermillion FlycatcherVermillion Flycatcher
Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker
Pileated WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker
Red-breasted SapsuckerRed-breasted Sapsucker
Red-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow-bellied Sapsucker
Purple FinchPurple Finch
Scarlet TanagersScarlet Tanagers
Acorn WoodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker
Redhead DuckRedhead Duck
Summer TanagerSummer Tanager
Vermilion FlycatcherVermilion Flycatcher
Red CrossbillRed Crossbill
Common RedpollCommon Redpoll
Pine GrosbeakPine Grosbeak
Western TanagersWestern Tanagers

What Birds Have Red Heads?

1. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin's Finch

In appearance, Cassin’s Finch is a little brown bird with a red head that looks quite similar to the House Finch.

The male Cassin’s Finch is the only one with a red head. He has a crimson face, breast, and back, as well as unmarked whitish underparts, which distinguishes him from the House Finch.

These birds may be found in the Western states of Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, where they live in the mountains.

It is possible to find them from Canada to Mexico.

Scientific Name Haemorhous cassinii
Length 6.3 in (16 cm)
Weight 0.8 – 1.2 oz (24 – 34 g)
Wingspan 9.8 – 10.6 in (25 – 27 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Seeds
Nesting Tree
Behavior Ground Forager

2. House Finch

House Finch

It’s a common and ubiquitous species, the House Finch, which has a red head and a small body. Most of the United States is home to these birds, including major cities.

Despite its red head and brown body, the House Finch has streaked; brownish underparts that make it stand out from the crowd.

Only male House Finch has red heads, and their colors become significantly stronger during the mating season.

House finches are a delight to observe in the yard because they use finch feeders.

Scientific Name Haemorhous mexicanus
Length 5.1 – 5.5 in (13 – 14 cm)
Weight 0.6 – 0.9 oz (16 – 27 g)
Wingspan 7.9 – 9.8 in (20 – 25 cm)
Habitat Towns
Food Seeds
Nesting Tree
Behavior Ground Forager

3. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The male Northern Cardinal is a brilliant red bird with a black face, body, and tail. They’re stunning, especially against a snowy backdrop.

With brown coloration, a strong brown crest, red accents, and red beaks, the females are likewise a bit conspicuous.

Northern Cardinals may be found in the eastern and southern United States, and during the breeding season, they can occasionally fight their own reflection to protect their territory.

You may attract more Northern Cardinals to your garden by using sunflower seeds, peanut nuts, millet, and milo.

They will eat food from big tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food that has been strewn about the ground.

Scientific Name Cardinalis cardinalis
Length 8.3 – 9.1 in (21 – 23 cm)
Weight 1.5 – 1.7 oz (42 – 48 g)
Wingspan 9.8 – 12.2 in (25 – 31 cm)
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Seeds
Nesting Shrub
Behavior Ground Forager

4. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are tiny birds that use feeders in backyards. They’re found in almost every state. The males of this bird have a red head patch on the rear of their heads.

Male and female woodpeckers have distinct appearances.

Males frequently have a crimson patch on their chests. They’re frequently mistaken for other birds like chickadees and nuthatches.

They are black and white in appearance. They have a similar appearance to the Hairy Woodpecker.

In addition to suet feeders, they will also consume black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts from platforms.

Scientific Name Dryobates pubescens
Length 5.5 – 6.7 in (14 – 17 cm)
Weight 0.7 – 1.0 oz (21 – 28 g)
Wingspan 9.8 – 11.8 in (25 – 30 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager
Read:  10 Different Species of Orange Birds in Michigan

5. Western Tanager

Western Tanager

The Western Tanager is a brightly colored bird that may be found across the Western United States, as well as Mexico and Canada.

They have a yellow back and a red head.

This is one of America’s most gorgeous birds, and it’s difficult to confuse it with anything else.

During the mating season, the Western Tanager’s crimson head is most visible.

Scientific Name Piranga ludoviciana
Length 6.3 – 7.5 in (16 – 19 cm)
Weight 0.8 – 1.3 oz (24 – 36 g)
Wingspan 11.5 in (29 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

6. Red-faced Warbler

Red-faced Warbler

 The Red-Faced Little grey warbler with a red head is a beautiful bird. These birds have a black “helmet” on their heads.

Only the states of Arizona and New Mexico are likely to encounter these birds, which are not widely distributed in the United States.

They’re a high-altitude woodland bird that only appears during the summer, so you’ll have to travel to view one.

Scientific Name Cardellina rubrifrons
Length 5.5 in (14 cm)
Weight 0.3 – 0.4 oz (8 – 11 g)
Wingspan 8.3 in (21 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Ground
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

7. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The light red belly of woodpeckers might be difficult to notice. This red-headed bird has a black-and-white striped back.

They’re found throughout the Eastern United States. In the spring and summer, they emit a loud cry and may be found in woodlands and forests, especially near deadwood.

They are migratory woodpeckers.

Suet feeders attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and they will occasionally eat on hummingbird feeders.

Scientific Name Melanerpes carolinus
Length 9.4 in (24 cm)
Weight 2.0 – 3.2 oz (56 – 91 g)
Wingspan 13.0 – 16.5 in (33 – 42 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager

8. Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

In addition to their blue backs, wings, and tails, barn swallow species also have rusty red cheeks. Prior to flying south for the winter, they breed over much of North America.

To find food, they are commonly observed darting over fields and open water. They also make nests out of mud that they create in man-made structures such as barns.

If you want to attract more Barn Swallows to your yard, you can put ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder and leave an outbuilding or barn door open.

Scientific Name Hirundo rustica
Length 5.9 – 7.5 in (15 – 19 cm)
Weight 0.6 – 0.7 oz (17 – 20 g)
Wingspan 11.4 – 12.6 in (29 – 32 cm)
Habitat Grasslands
Food Insects
Nesting Building
Behavior Aerial Forager

9. Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

The male Vermillion Flycatcher has a stunning crimson head and a matching red underbelly. The female, on the other hand, seems a whole other species, since she is simple and brown in appearance.

The male’s head feathers create a crest that may be raised or lowered. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California are home to just a few desert bird species that may be found in the desert.

Scientific Name Pyrocephalus rubinus
Length 13 – 14 cm (5.1 – 5.5 in)
Weight 11 and 14 g (0.39 and 0.49 oz)
Wingspan 24 to 25 cm (9.4 to 9.8 in)
Habitat Grasslands
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Flycatching

10. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Most of North America is home to the Hairy Woodpecker. The heads of these black and white birds feature a red mark.

They are somewhat bigger than their Downy Woodpecker counterpart.

They’re located in big trees and maybe heard tapping if you pay attention.

There is a lot to learn about woodpeckers. Suet feeders might help you attract more Hairy Woodpeckers, especially in the winter.

Scientific Name Dryobates villosus
Length 7.1 – 10.2 in (18 – 26 cm)
Weight 1.4 – 3.4 oz (40 – 95 g)
Wingspan 13.0 – 16.1 in (33 – 41 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager

11. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers have a brilliant red crest on their heads and a mainly black body with white streaks. Besides the northwest coast, it may be found in the eastern states.

Foraging for carpenter ants on decaying wood, it is a large bird approximately the size of a raven.

Suet feeders might help you attract more Pileated Woodpeckers.

Scientific Name Dryocopus pileatus
Length 15.8 – 19.3 in (40 – 49 cm)
Weight 8.8 – 12.3 oz (250 – 350 g)
Wingspan 26.0 – 29.5 in (66 – 75 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager

12. Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker

A little bird with a red head and chest, the Red-breasted Sapsucker is a small bird with a red head and chest. Additionally, they have a unique white patch between the base of the beak and eye, as well as red feathers surrounding their heads.

You may find these woodpeckers across western North America, from Canada to Mexico. Although they may be found in a broad range of forested environments, these birds prefer coniferous woods.

Scientific Name Sphyrapicus ruber
Length 7.9 – 8.7 in (20 – 22 cm)
Weight 1.9 – 2.2 oz (53.1 – 63.5 g)
Wingspan 14.6 – 16.0 in (37 – 40.6 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager
Read:  10 Birds with Red Beak (Red Beaked Birds)

13. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed as their name suggests, woodpeckers have red heads. Their bodies are white, and their wings are black and white.

They may be found in eastern states all year and breed, but they move to the extreme northwest of their territory to spend the winter.

They live in marshes and pine savannas, where they may be found in open woodlots and dead timber.

Insects and seeds are stored in cracks in wood, under bark, and under shingles on roofs.

 They are aggressive protectors of their territory, even puncturing or removing the eggs of other species nests.

Suet feeders and fruit might entice Red-headed Woodpeckers to your yard.

Scientific Name Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Length 7.5 – 9.1 in (19 – 23 cm)
Weight 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)
Wingspan 16.5 in (42 cm)
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Omnivore
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Flycatching

14. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Raptors have black and white plumage, with a pale yellow underbelly and a red patch on top of their heads and throat.

They breed in the extreme north and in Canada, and they spend the winter in the southeast. They may be found in woods, where they leave a trail of small holes in tree bark where their brush-tipped tongue has been consuming sap. Suet feeders are a possibility.

Scientific Name Sphyrapicus varius
Length 7.1 – 8.7 in (18 – 22 cm)
Weight 1.5 – 1.9 oz (43 – 55 g)
Wingspan 13.4 – 15.8 in (34 – 40 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager

15. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Its head and breast are a reddish-purple, but its back and wings are a darker shade of brown, like the House Finch.

You may view them all year round along the Pacific coast’s north and east coasts. They flock to feeders in search of black oil sunflower seeds.

Scientific Name Haemorhous purpureus
Length 4.7 – 6.3 in (12 – 16 cm)
Weight 0.6 – 1.1 oz (18 – 32 g)
Wingspan 8.7 – 10.2 in (22 – 26 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Seeds
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

16. Scarlet Tanagers

Scarlet Tanagers

Red-headed and black-tailed Scarlet Tanagers are vividly colorful birds. In the summer, they nest in eastern woodlands before traveling to South America. Because they like to stay high in the forest canopy, Scarlet Tanagers might be difficult to see.

The Scarlet Tanager loves berry plants such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberry, and Juneberry to attract them.

Scientific Name Piranga olivacea
Length 6.3 – 6.7 in (16 – 17 cm)
Weight 0.8 – 1.3 oz (23 – 38 g)
Wingspan 9.8 – 11.4 in (25 – 29 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

17. Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Black backs, white crests, and whitish-black under portions differentiate the Acorn Woodpecker from other woodpecker species.

It’s exclusively found in a handful of southern states and along the California coast.

They dwell in vast groups in western oak woods, cramming hundreds of acorns into specially created holes in trees. Acorn woodpeckers have a lot of intriguing and disgusting facts.

From the tops of trees, they produce loud parrot-like squarks. Seed and suet feeders may be visited.

Scientific Name Melanerpes formicivorus
Length 7.5 – 9.1 in (19 – 23 cm)
Weight 2.3 – 3.2 oz (65 – 90 g)
Wingspan 13.8 – 16.9 in (35 – 43 cm)
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Insects
Nesting Cavity
Behavior Bark Forager

18. Redhead Duck

Redhead Duck

Black breasts and a reddish-brown head distinguish the Redhead duck from other species.

They may be seen in flocks ranging in the thousands across the United States, notably near the Gulf Coast in the winter.

They can be found breeding in reedy ponds over the Great Plains and West in the summer.

Scientific Name Aythya americana
Length 16.5 – 21.3 in (42 – 54 cm)
Weight 22.2 – 52.9 oz (630 – 1500 g)
Wingspan 29.5 – 31.1 in (75 – 79 cm)
Habitat Lakes and Ponds
Food Plants
Nesting Floating
Behavior Surface Dive

19. Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

The males of the Summer Tanager are brilliant red all throughout, while the females are yellow. They breed throughout the southern and eastern United States before wintering in Central and South America.

In open woods, forest songbirds that feed on bees and wasps in mid-flight can be found.

They capture them and kill them by slamming them against a limb, rubbing the stinger off, and then devouring them.

Berry plants and fruit trees might help you attract more Summer Tanagers to your yard.

Scientific Name Piranga rubra
Length 17 cm (6.7 in)
Weight 29 g (1.0 oz)
Wingspan 28 to 30 cm
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

20. Western Tanager

Western Tanagers

The head of a Western Tanager is fiery orange-red, and the body is yellow with black wings. Breeding in the north and then migrating south for the winter, they may be found all throughout western states.

Despite their brilliant coloration, they dwell in open coniferous woods and are concealed in the canopy.

The red coloration is most likely due to the Western Tanager’s consumption of insects that generate a pigment that they cannot synthesize.

Dried fruit, sliced oranges, and other fruits from bird feeders can be used to attract Western Tanagers.

Scientific Name Piranga ludoviciana
Length 6.3 – 7.5 in (16 – 19 cm)
Weight 0.8 – 1.3 oz (24 – 36 g)
Wingspan 11.5 in (29 cm)
Habitat Forests
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner
Read:  22 Birds With White Heads

21. Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

The Vermilion Flycatcher has a brilliant red crest, neck, and breast, as well as a black back and wings and a black eye stripe.

In the far south, they can be observed all year round, gathering insects or resting on exposed perches in dry environments.

They’re very numerous in the southwest, but they’re also seen in lower quantities near the Gulf Coast.

Scientific Name Pyrocephalus rubinus
Length 13 – 14 cm (5.1 – 5.5 in)
Weight 11 and 14 g (0.39 and 0.49 oz)
Wingspan 24 to 25 cm (9.4 to 9.8 in)
Habitat Grasslands
Food Insects
Nesting Tree
Behavior Flycatching

22. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

Male Red Crossbills have black wings and tails and are brick red throughout. In the northern and western areas, as well as in the eastern states, they can be seen all year round.

They hunt in flocks from tree to tree, cracking apart unopened cones with their strong beaks. They may be spotted eating grit along the roadside in the mornings, as well as in coniferous forests.

Scientific Name Loxia curvirostra
Length 20 cm
Weight 40 – 53 g
Wingspan 27 – 29 cm
Habitat Forests
Food Seeds
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

23. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Most of the body of the Common Redpoll is brown or white save for its pink breasts. Their numbers increase in northern locations throughout the winter, while they decline over most of Central America.

To be warm at night, they built tunnels under the snow. In one day, a crow may consume up to 42 percent of its total weight in food, and store up to 2 grams of seeds in the flexible esophagus.

In weedy places or on-tree catkins, they can be found, but they will also flock to feeders in search of small seeds such as nyjer seeds or thistle.

Scientific Name Acanthis flammea
Length 4.7 – 5.5 in (12  –  14 cm)
Weight 0.4 – 0.7 oz (11-20 g)
Wingspan 7.5 – 8.7 in (19 – 22 cm)
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Seeds
Nesting Shrub
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

24. Pyrrhuloxia


Male Pyrrhuloxia is grey in color with red highlights on the forehead, crest, breast, and tail. They dwell in the Southwest’s scorching deserts.

They aggressively protect their territory during the mating season, but in the winter, they may be seen in groups of up to 1000 birds.

Pyrrhuloxia eat seeds, as well as insects, and can be found at sunflower seed feeders, however, they prefer to spread them on the ground.

Scientific Name Cardinalis sinuatus
Length 8.3 in (21 cm)
Weight 0.8 – 1.5 oz (24 – 43 g)
Wingspan 12 in
Habitat Scrub
Food Seeds
Nesting Shrub
Behavior Ground Forager

25. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

The males of the Pine Grosbeak species have red heads, breasts, and backs, with grey on the rest of their bodies and wings. They are big finches with a sluggish flight speed.

During the summer, they may be found in open spruce and pine woods in areas of the West, while in the winter, they can be found in northern states.

In the northern states, black oil sunflower seed feeders can attract Pine Grosbeaks during the winter.

However, they will also swarm to feeders looking for tiny seeds like nyjer seeds or thistle.

Scientific Name Pinicola enucleator
Length 20 to 25.5 cm (7.9 to 10.0 in)
Weight 52 to 78 g (1.8 to 2.8 oz)
Wingspan 13.0 in (33 cm)
Habitat Open Woodlands
Food Seeds
Nesting Tree
Behavior Foliage Gleaner

Other Red headed Woodpeckers

The majority of American woodpeckers have red on the rear of their heads. As an example, consider:

  • Nuttall’s Woodpecker
  • Red-naped Sapsucker
  • Lewis’s Woodpecker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Gila Woodpecker

More birds with red markings on their heads

If you haven’t been able to identify the bird you saw after looking through all of the birds on this list, try one of the following:

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Male Wild Turkey
  • White Ibis
  • Common Gallinule
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Male Magnificent Frigate bird
  • Ruby-crowned kinglet
  • Male Ring-necked Pheasant

These birds don’t all have completely red heads, but they all have some red on their heads.


There are a number of birds with red heads, as you can see, but this list should help you identify any red-headed birds you see.

You should be able to identify red-headed birds easily after reading this article.

Why not make a goal of spotting all of these red-headed bird species when birding a challenge? Doesn’t it seem like a good time? Enjoy your bird watching!


Why do male birds have more color than female birds?

When it comes to bird species, the males tend to be more colorful and attractively marked than their female counterparts. He requires these vibrant hues in order to attract a girl and impress other men. Bright colors are a symbol of health and fitness, which females like since it might indicate that the guy would be a good father or, at the very least, has decent genes.

What causes birds to have different colors?

Pigments and other microscopic structures in feathers reflect light, which generates the colors we see in birds’ plumage.

Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.