Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin
The stunning feathers of many bird species are one of their main points of distinction. Numerous men employ color to entice the opposing sex.
One would assume that red would be a preferred color for birds, given that there are about 800 species in the United States.
However, red is frequently used as a “highlight color,” red is rarely seen on a bird’s entire body.
Red feathers are used for communication, not camouflage, as you can surely predict.
Many types of red birds in North America have been compiled in this article in no particular order so that you can get to know these red species better.
Types of Red Birds in North America
1. Northern Cardinal
Despite having a limited geographic distribution that only extends from the Eastern United States to the Southwest and the Rockies, the Northern Cardinal is undoubtedly the most well-known red bird in North America.
The male Northern Cardinal is likely to draw attention with his loud and musical chirping and cheery bright red plumage. While the females’ colors aren’t quite as vibrant, they still have reddish undertones in their brownish feathers.
It’s easy to get cardinals to come to your bird feeders. Sunflower seeds are ideal for them because they are seed eaters.
You might be able to spot them nesting if you reside in a region with dense vegetation. You’re likely to hear the typical “chip” of the male during breeding season as he defends his territory.
Cardinal males have a vivid red color all over, a reddish bill, and a black face right around the beak.
Usually foraging in couples, northern cardinals prefer to sit low in bushes and trees or browse on the ground or close to it.
They are frequently seen at bird feeders but may go unnoticed elsewhere, at least until you get used to their loud, metallic chip call.
In populated places like backyards, parks, woodlots, and shrubby forest edges, keep an eye out for Northern Cardinals. In dense tangles of bushes and vines, Northern Cardinals build their nests.
2. House Finch
The House Finch, which is widespread throughout the entire country, frequents backyard feeders all year long. These charming finches are distinguished by their uncomplicated songs and distinctive red and brown plumage.
Females are brown and white streaked, while only males have distinctive redheads and necks. They resemble the Purple Finch in appearance, but as implied by their names, the Purple Finch has a much more raspberry hue, while the House Finch is unmistakably red.
They enjoy constructing nests around structures that were built by people.
Adult males have streaky brown backs, bellies, and tails with rosy red areas around the face and upper breast. The red rump stands out in flight.
Adult females don’t have red skin; instead, they are a plain grayish-brown color with thick, fuzzy streaks and a vaguely defined face.
Gregarious House Finches congregate at feeders or sit high in neighboring trees. They sit still and move quite slowly, breaking seeds with quick bites to remove the shells. A lot of finches have bouncy flights.
Over the course of the continent, House Finches inhabit backyards, urban areas, farms, and the boundaries of forests.
3. Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanagers, a native of the Eastern United States, are unmistakable when they stand out against a background of lush woodland.
Only male Scarlet Tanagers have striking red and black coloring that makes them stand out, similar to Northern Cardinals. Females are a yellow-green color, which merges better with the surrounding vegetation.
Males molt their red feathers after breeding season and exchange them for green ones, much like females do. Once in Western South America and the Andes mountain range, they move southward.
Adult males are a distinctive, blazing red color in the spring and summer, with black wings and tails. Olive-yellow females and fall immatures have wings and tails that are a deeper shade of olive.
Adult males molt into female-like plumage after mating, but they retain their black wings and tail.
Scarlet Tanagers are primarily insectivorous in the summer, although they also eat fruit while migrating and on their wintering grounds.
They spend a lot of their time hiding out in the forest canopy amid the broad leaves of deciduous trees, where it is difficult to spot them. They make a characteristic, loud chick-burr call in addition to singing a wandering, burying song.
In eastern North America, scarlet tanagers breed in deciduous and mixed deciduous-evergreen woods. They can be vulnerable to habitat fragmentation; therefore, search for them in sizable, undeveloped forest areas.
They pass through a wider range of backyards, forests, and shrubby habitats when migrating.
4. Summer Tanager
Although the Summer Tanager and Scarlet Tanager are similar, there are a few distinguishing characteristics that make them distinct from one another.
The Summer Tanager, for starters, is bigger than its Scarlet Tanager. Second, males only have a tiny bit of dusky black at the apex of their totally crimson wings. Additionally, females are either totally yellow-green or yellow with streaks of dark red.
Discover Summer Tanagers in the western United States in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as the eastern United States south of the Great Lakes.
Adult male Red is the dominant color of Summer Tanagers. Bright yellow-green is the color of both females and juvenile males; the back and wings are a little bit greener and yellower on the yellower regions of the body. Bill appears pallid. Male juvenile molts can have red and yellow patches.
Summer Tanagers usually eat by leisurely gliding along tree branches or remaining relatively high in the forest canopy, where they sit still and sally out to catch flying insects in midair.
Males have a beautiful song that sounds like an American Robin, while both sexes have the distinctive pit-ti-tuck call note.
They nestle close to open forest edges and gaps, especially in deciduous or mixed pine-oak woodlands. In the Southwest, search for them near streams where there are mesquite, saltcedar, cottonwoods, and willows.
5. Vermillion Flycatcher
Despite his diminutive size, the Vermillion Flycatcher has a powerful bite! This little insect-eating bird’s head and body are a stunning crimson color.
Both sexes have red feathers, although the male is the easier to identify. On the underside of their tail and lower belly, females have a tiny pinkish patch.
The natural habitat of vermillion flycatchers is the desert. Although they are mostly found in Mexico, certain populations also roam into Southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California along the Gulf Coast.
Males have vivid redheads and underparts. The undertail coverts are vivid crimson, and the lores are equally dark.
Male Vermilion Flycatchers actively defend their area from competing species as well as other birds by adopting a warning stance with their tail and crest raised.
When defending their territory, males engage in an elaborate flying display to entice females. They soar 60–100 feet above the plants around them while alternating gliding and flapping with shallow wingbeats and twittering flight songs.
The male and female then investigate suitable nest locations together if the female is interested, frequently with the male bringing insects to the female.
Despite the fact that pairs are socially monogamous, extra-pair copulation is not unheard of. Vermilion Flycatchers are mainly solitary birds when not breeding, though small congregations of males may occasionally be seen.
They can be found in comparable open, shrubby terrain in tropical lowlands south of the United States, up to an elevation of 10,000 feet.
6. Red Warbler
Only the highland regions of western and southern Mexico are home to the stunning Red Warbler. They favor oak, fir, and pine woodlands.
Adults have a silvery white cheek patch and are completely crimson all over. Compared to men, women are a little paler.
The tidy grey adult males have a vivid red face, a black crown, and an ear patch. The underparts are white, while the grey upper parts with a slender white wingbar, a white nape, and a white rump. The faces of immatures are pinkish.
Male Red-faced Warblers start singing as soon as they go back to their nesting areas to mark their territory and find a mate.
In order to attract females, males quirk their wings, raise their heads, and raise their tails while displaying their distinctive red faces and contrasting white rumps.
The same show made by a receptive female is an invitation to mate. Once she has chosen the location for the nest, this frequently happens until the eggs are laid.
Males closely watch over females throughout egg-laying and right up until the conclusion of incubation (rather unusual in a songbird).
In most nests, the young are of mixed paternity because both males and females look for mating chances with birds other than their primary mate.
Despite this, the Red-faced Warbler’s mating strategy is “socially monogamous,” with the female parent and the male territory holder being the only ones responsible for raising the offspring.
Nests in pine-oak-fir forests, as well as in stands of Engelmann spruce, quaking aspen, canyon maple, and Douglas fir, at higher altitudes (6,500 feet and above). Sometimes, below 6,000 feet, migrant birds can be seen, frequently beside streams.
7. Pine Grosbeak
The northern Rocky Mountains and Canada’s colder environments are preferred by the Pine Grosbeak. Its name is appropriate given that it lives in spruce and fir tree forests.
If you reside in the north, you might notice them swarming plants in search of food or berries.
The recognizable red and grey color is only found in adult males. Instead of the red that men have on their heads and backs, females have them.
Men are grey and reddish pink in color. The head and rump of females and immatures are greyish with hints of reddish-orange or yellow.
They all have wings that are dark grey with two white wing bars. Variable amounts of reddish pink can be seen on both the ladies’ heads and rump, as well as the males’ bellies.
To clip off new buds and needles or to gather dropped seeds, Pine Grosbeaks jump among branches. In pursuit of seeds and fruits, they wander in small groups during the winter and frequently visit bird feeders. They may migrate or irrupt further south during some winters in quest of food.
Pine Grosbeaks live in subalpine and open spruce, fir, and pine forests. They typically use forests with lots of seeds in the winter, such as those with mountain ash, maple, and ash.
8. Painted Bunting
It is difficult to categorize Painted Bunting because of its wide range of hues. Its inclusion on this list, however, is due to its predominantly crimson body.
Males have multicolored plumage that includes a scarlet throat, belly, and back, while females are a vivid greenish-yellow.
Mexico and Central America are where they spend the winter. They primarily come to the United States in two places during the breeding season.
The mid-South is home to the western population, which includes western Mississippi, northern Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Texas.
The coloration of the males is striking, with blue heads, crimson underparts, and greenbacks. Females and immatures have an eyering that is a consistent bright yellow-green color.
Although they are essentially patternless, they have a greener and brighter overall hue than other songbirds.
In areas of dense vegetation, among grasses, or at seed feeders, Painted Buntings browse on the ground. They occasionally go out into the grass to hunt for seeds.
In loose flocks with other seed-eating birds, they migrate. Male breeding birds frequently perch outside and utter their confused, charming songs.
Breeding grounds for Painted Buntings are generally close to regions of lush grass or the borders of woodlands. They like weedy, crowded habitats as well as the semi-open woodland understory during migration and the winter.
9. Hepatic Tanager
Adult males are red overall with some grey on the back and around the eye, whilst females are yellow. Hepatic Tanagers primarily consume insects and spiders, which they catch by gently traveling among the tree branches.
They can be seen year-round in Mexico and in the summer in the mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico. They do, however, have a much wider distribution and can be found in both Central and South America.
Male adults have a whitish ear patch and are reddish above and below. Adult females have a dark ear patch and are olive-yellow above and yellowish below. Juveniles have buffy undersides, greyish olive tops, and faint overall streaking.
Hops slowly upward through shrubs and branches to forage for food; occasionally, it pursues flying insects. A lot of the time, family groups were observed in pairs or small groups.
Lays its eggs in open pine and pine-oak forests in the western mountains and spends the winter in a similar habitat. In forests, desert oases, and woody stream corridors, migrants pause.
You might imagine Pyrrhuloxias resemble a cardinal painted grey due to their body structure, head crest, and red coloration. In actuality, they are connected to the Northern Cardinal extremely closely.
Since these birds are found throughout the northern part of Mexico, western Texas, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and the Baja Peninsula, you can think of them as their southwestern cousins.
The body of males and females are grey, while their crests, wings, and tails are vivid red. Males have a red stripe running down the front of their bodies and across their faces.
Pyrrhuloxias are primarily grey or gray-brown birds with pronounced red flashes. Males are a bright grey color with a red face, crest, breast stripe, and reddish tail.
Compared to males, females are buffy grey and have less red. Both sexes have reddish accents in the wings and yellowish bills.
Pyrrhuloxias like to eat seeds that are on the ground or close to it, but they will consume insects if they are around. When migrating between areas of cover, they make brief, wavy flights.
Males usually sing their shrill, staccato melodies from perches that are exposed, like cacti; both sexes produce chip notes that are sharp and resemble cardinals.
Pyrrhuloxias are sedentary inhabitants of the desert who like to nest in the scrub, arid grasslands, open mesquite forests, and cactus gardens. They might relocate nearby to greener places near water throughout the winter.
Check out this article on Types of Red Birds in Illinois.
In this article, the ten types of red birds that are found in North America have been listed and discussed.
The list isn’t all-inclusive, so there are many other types of red birds that are found in North America.
Try to find the birds according to their color so that you can identify each bird.
Is Seeing A Scarlet Tanager Unusual?
Despite this bird’s striking colors, sightings are uncommon. This is partly due to the fact that they can only be found in the trees’ higher canopy, where they spend their time slowly moving about in search of food. They are not only infrequently heard but also rarely seen.