32 Species of Birds With Red Heads

Species of birds with red heads

Birds are one of nature’s most colorful creations, so it is no surprise that there are plenty of red-headed bird species from different parts of the globe.

The color red easily stands out among the various greens and browns of the outdoors. Thus, if you’re new to bird watching, these red-headed birds are one of the easiest to spy on in the wild.

This article lists 32 different birds with red heads, ranging from rusty tints to the most vibrant shades of scarlet. Keep reading to find out more about these magnificently colorful birds!

32 Birds With Red Heads

1. Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Melanerpes formicivorus
Conservation Status:Least Concern 
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)
Lifespan:16–17 years

The Acorn Woodpecker is the first out of many woodpeckers with red heads. They are often described as having ‘clownish’ faces, echoed by their bright red crowns, pale yellow foreheads and throats, and wide eyes.

Their predominantly black plumage also places Acorn Woodpeckers on our list of black birds with red heads.

Their name comes from their habit of drilling holes into oak trees to create granaries where they store acorns.

These birds can be spotted year-round, especially in oak and pine-oak woodlands of Oregon, California, and southwest America. They can also thrive in other habitats like streamside forests and even urban parks. 

Although Acorn Woodpeckers are a species of low conservation concern, there has been a recent surge of habitat degradation which has been causing a slight decline in their population, especially in the Southwest.

Fortunately, they have shown resilience in their ability to adapt to new habitats, such as suburban neighborhoods. 

Fun Fact: The ‘pantries’ of Acorn Woodpeckers usually store more than 50,000 nuts, which are so tightly packed that other animals cannot remove them.

2. Anna’s Hummingbird

Annas Hummingbird
Scientific Name:Calypte anna
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:3.9 in (10 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (3–6 g)
Wingspan:4.7 in (12 cm) 
Lifespan:Up to 8.5 years 

The Anna’s Hummingbird is one of the most common hummingbird species found mainly in California, especially during the breeding season. During summer and winter, they migrate to higher and lower altitudes, respectively. 

Despite being a common species, the appearance of Anna’s Hummingbirds is anything but. Being named after a 19th-century Italian duchess, Anna’s Hummingbirds reflect the royalty of their namesake. 

These birds have a unique, primarily green-gray color scheme punctured with a bright reddish-pink crown. They also sport lengthy tails that play a large role during male courtship displays. 

Anna’s Hummingbirds feed largely on nectar and sap, but they also eat insects like midges and leaf hoppers.

They have adapted to non-native vegetation and gardens and are also common in yards and parks. With the right diet and environment, they can live up to about 8 years or more.

As such, these hummingbirds are one of the most important pollinators of the California flora. Wild plants found in these areas have evolved to match the breeding and feeding patterns of Anna’s Hummingbirds. 

As an avid birdwatcher myself, Anna’s Hummingbirds are one of my favorite subjects to spot. Aside from their vibrant reddish-pink head, which is a marvel to look at, I love watching these birds perform their aerial maneuvers.

Observing them fly directly forward, backward, and even sideways is always a breathtaking experience. If you are fortunate enough, you might even catch them flying upside-down.

3. Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow perched on a branch
Scientific Name:Hirundo rustica
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:4–8 years

The Barn Swallow is a steely blue and tawny bird with rusty-red, almost cinnamon-colored foreheads and throats. Males are more boldly-colored than females and can have more vibrant red heads compared to others.

This small bird feeds mostly on insects mid-flight, often seen flying in low fields or even at altitudes of 100 feet to catch flies and the like. They also tend to forage in flocks, sometimes with other swallow species.

One notable characteristic of Barn Swallows is their close relationship with humans and man-made structures.

As one of the birds known to build mud nests, most Barn Swallow nests rest on man-made sites like open buildings, bridges, or house eaves.

As such, they can be found in farms, fields, lakes, and open terrain. These birds are very common across Europe, North America, and Asia, migrating to South America and Africa in the winter. 

4. California Condor

California Condor
Scientific Name:Gymnogyps californianus
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered 
Length:46–53 in (117–134 cm)
Weight:246.9–349.2 oz (7,000–9,900 g)
Wingspan:109.1 in (277 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 60 years 

The California Condor is the largest bird in North America, weighing up to 25 pounds with a whopping wingspan of 9.5 feet. In flight, their broad wings appear to have a ‘fingered’ look due to the lengths of their wingtips.

These black and white birds are well-known for their bare heads and necks, which are red to orange in color. Their young are born with darker heads that gradually turn red as they reach adulthood at six years. 

As large birds, California Condors nest in high elevations like cliffs or mountains, using the high perches for easier take-offs. Belonging to the group of scavenger birds, they often look for food in open fields, with carrions as their primary diet. 

However, they can also be found forming groups around carcasses from time to time. These are social birds that often congregate at bathing spots and roosts. 

California Condors are a critically endangered species due to their high mortality rate from poisonings or shootings. Conservation efforts to increase the population of these bird species began in 1998. 

5. Cassin’s Finch

Cassins Finch
Scientific Name:Haemorhous cassinii
Conservation Status:Least Concern 
Length:6.3 in (16 cm)
Weight:0.8–1.2 oz (24–34 g)
Wingspan:9.8–10.6 in (25–27 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 7 years 

The Cassin’s Finch is a red-headed finch, quite similar in appearance to fellow finches such as the House Finch and the Purple Finch. They are small songbirds with rosy or pale red bellies and bright red crowns. 

However, these red heads can only be found in males. Female Cassin’s Finches have a white and brown body with less distinct facial markings.

Although not as well-known as other red finches, Cassin’s Finches have large populations across Western North America. They can be found mainly in pine forests in high elevations, migrating to lower areas during winter. 

Cassin’s Finches mainly feed on pine seeds and tree buds. In the winter, they are also known to visit fruiting shrubs and sunflower seed feeders. Interestingly, these birds also seek out salt and mineral deposits. 

As songbirds, Cassin’s Finches are known for warbling songs made up of short syllables. They are also known to mimic the songs of other bird species. 

During the breeding season, males will sing to females with loud, liquid calls.

Fun Fact: As one of the birds that lay blue eggs, expect their eggs to have a light greenish-blue hue, complemented with black, purple, and brown spots.

6. Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal
Scientific Name:Spatula cyanoptera
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:15.1–16.9 in (38.4–42.8 cm)
Weight:11.8–14.1 oz (335–401 g)
Wingspan:21.3–22.4 in (54–57)
Lifespan:Up to 12 years 

While not as brightly colored as other birds with red heads, an adult male Cinnamon Teal bears a primarily cinnamon-red color scheme, with a brownish back and blue patches located in its upper wing.

Female Cinnamon Teals, on the other hand, are browner in color and have more intricate patterns throughout their bodies. This also applies to immature and non-breeding males. 

These ducks are primarily found in freshwater wetlands and marshes throughout Western North America. These areas serve as molting grounds and food sources, where they enjoy a diet of aquatic plants and insects.

In the winter, these ducks may migrate to Central America and even as far as Mexico and Southern Canada. They have been seen flocking and even mating with other similar duck species, such as the Blue-Winged Teal. 

If you wish to know more about other ducks that have red heads, you may check this article.

7. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Scientific Name:Acanthis flammea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:2–3 years 

The Common Redpoll is a small, brown-and-white bird with streaky markings on its side. Both males and females have bright red patches on their foreheads, but only males have pale red chests and upper flanks.

These birds often travel in flocks of hundreds, moving at fast, energetic speeds, especially when foraging. Their diets mainly consist of seeds and other vegetation.

As such, Common Redpolls can mainly be found in willow flats to open coniferous forests. They are also backyard feeders that are known to visit bird feeders, particularly those of nyjer, thistle, or black oil sunflower seeds.

These birds have special throat pouches specifically for storing seeds temporarily so they can feed in warmer, more protected spaces. 

Common Redpolls have populations all around the globe, especially in lands surrounding the Arctic Ocean. In the winter, they can also be seen in parts of North America.

8. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Dryobates pubescens
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:1–2 years

The Downy Woodpecker is one of the most challenging birds to identify, given its striking similarity with a fellow red-headed woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker.

These birds sport checkered black and white wings with a striped head and back. Males of these bird species have small, bright red patches on the back of their heads. They also have a short, chisel-like bill and wide shoulders.

As the smallest of their kind, these birds feed primarily by picking at tree trunks rather than drilling on them. Thus, their diet consists of bark insects like beetles and ants, which are too tiny for other woodpeckers to reach. 

Similar to fellow woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers have a distinct rising-and-falling flight style, yet they tend to move more acrobatically than others. 

These woodpeckers are common across the United States, Canada, and even Alaska. They are often sighted at open woodlands, orchards, parks, and backyard feeders, usually with flocks of chickadees and nuthatches.

9. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker on a tree
Scientific Name:Leuconotopicus villosus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.1–10.2 in (18–26 cm)
Weight:1.4–3.4 oz (40–95 cm)
Wingspan:13–16.1 in (33–41 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years 

It is easy to misidentify a Hairy Woodpecker with a Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers have the same checkered, black-and-white color scheme with a wide patch running down the length of their back. 

Male Hairy Woodpeckers have very similar red patches toward the back of their heads as well, while females do not carry these red specks.

You may also check these differences between male and female woodpeckers, even of other species, here.

Meanwhile, what sets these birds apart from the Downy Woodpecker, however, is their size and bill length. They are a bit larger, with bills almost as long as their heads, as opposed to the smaller features of the Downy Woodpecker. 

Hairy Woodpeckers feast on insects, particularly the larvae of beetles, ants, and moths. They are also known to enjoy sap leaking from the wells made in tree bark by sapsuckers.

Most of the Hairy Woodpecker population can be found in woodlands across North and Central America. They can be spotted in woodlots, parks, suburban neighborhoods, and even cemeteries in urban areas. 

10. House Finch

House Finch perched on a plant
Scientific Name:Haemorhous mexicanus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5–6 in (2.5–15 cm)
Weight:0.56–0.95 oz (16–27 g)
Wingspan:8–10 in (20–25 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11 years 

The House Finch is a well-known bird with a red head. Adult males sport a rosy red around their heads and breasts, which intensifies into darker shades around the face.

The rest of their bodies are streaked with brown and white, which gives them a spot in our list of small brown birds.

As mentioned earlier, House Finches are quite similar in appearance to Cassin’s Finches and Purple Finches. In fact, House Finches are direct competitors to Purple Finches in some parts of the eastern United States.

Predominantly, however, the House Finch population lies in the western United States. They are common in man-made infrastructures, particularly cities, farms, lawns, and buildings. They try to avoid open grasslands or unbroken forests. 

Their diet largely consists of plants, including seeds, fruits, and buds. As such, these birds are often found perched around a bird feeder or pecking at fruit trees.

Although their conservation status is of least concern, there has been a steep decline in the House Finch population since 1994 due to the spread of a disease called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis.

11. Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder backed Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Dryobates scalaris
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.3–7.1 in (16–18 cm)
Weight:0.7–1.7 oz (21–48 g)
Wingspan:13 in (33 ccm)
Lifespan:Up to 4.5 years 

As the third woodpecker with a red head on this list, the Ladder-backed Woodpecker also appears quite similar to the Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker.

Coincidentally, these three woodpeckers also belong to the category of small black and white birds.

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are small and they sport a checkered wing pattern. They are aptly named after the ladder-like pattern of stripes running down their backs. Additionally, the crowns of male adults are red, while females are black. 

Unlike other woodpeckers, their natural habitat is among dry terrains such as deserts, desert scrubs, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. In fact, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers were once known as ‘Cactus Woodpeckers.’

Their diet mainly consists of insect larvae, including wood-boring beetles, caterpillars, and ants. They also feed on cactus fruits. 

Unlike other woodpeckers, they do not drill into the wood for prey; rather, they forage from trunks, branches, and bushes. 

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers can be found year-round throughout the southwestern United States. They can also be spotted within Central and South America as far as Nicaragua.

12. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal on a tree stump
Scientific Name:Cardinalis cardinalis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:Up to 3 years 

The male Northern Cardinal is among the few birds that are completely red, save for black patches around its beak and the gray tones in its wings.

Female Northern Cardinals sport a more subdued reddish-brown and gray tone. However, males are larger and louder.

Due to their dazzling red color, Northern Cardinals are easy to spot in the wild. They maintain their bright plumage even in the winter, making them stand out even more. 

Northern Cardinals can be spotted in southeastern Canada, the eastern United States – particularly southern California – and even further south through Mexico and Guatemala. They do not migrate during winter.

Northern Cardinals mainly inhabit residential areas such as backyards, parks, and woodlots. They are quite territorial and will actively attack intruders, to the point that they may attack their own reflections. 

They have a varied diet of seeds, vegetable matter, berries, and insects. Interestingly, their bright red color is owed to the carotenoid pigments found in their diet.

Fun Fact: The Northern Cardinal is so popular in the United States that it is the state bird of seven different states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

13. Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler side profile
Scientific Name:Setophaga palmarum
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.7–5.5 in (12–14 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.5 oz (8.5–14.2 g)
Wingspan:7.9–8.3 in (20–21 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 6 years 

With a predominantly brown and yellow body, the Palm Warbler does not have a noticeably red head compared to others. However, during breeding seasons, male and female birds have rusty, brown-red caps.

Palm Warblers are easily identifiable not because of their physical appearance but for their peculiar habit of bobbing their tails. Furthermore, Palm Warblers prefer to forage on the ground, unlike other warblers. 

They feed mainly on insects, berries, and vegetable matter. They are also known to eat flying insects mid-air. In the fall, it joins other flocks of warblers, chickadees, and sparrows when foraging for food. 

These songbirds inhabit wooded borders of muskeg in the summer; however, during migration periods, they usually find shelter in low trees and bushes. When breeding, Palm Warblers prefer boreal forests in the north. 

These warblers are commonly found across Canada and northeastern America but will migrate to the southeastern United States, the Caribbean Islands, eastern Nicaragua, and south Panama for the winter.

14. Purple Finch

Purple Finch up close
Scientific Name:Haemorhous purpureus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:6–7 years 

The Purple Finch is very close in appearance to a House Finch, bearing the same rosy pink hues in its head and breast that deepens in color around the forehead. Its wings and back, on the other hand, are more brown. 

What differentiates these birds from House Finches are their color varieties. Male Purple Finches are closer to a reddish-purple and, as their name suggests, may be categorized under the group of purple birds.

Meanwhile, male House Finches have a more orange tinge around their heads. 

The natural habitats of Purple Finches are coniferous and mixed forests along the northeastern United States and Canada. They are also known to breed in trees by the stream and in oak woodlands.

During winter and migration periods, these birds travel to the southern United States towards wooded, semi-open areas such as swamps and suburbs. 

These redheads enjoy a diet of seeds, soft buds, berries, and fruits. They may also eat some insects, particularly aphids, caterpillars, and beetles.

In the wild, Purple Finches are direct competitors of both House Finches and House Swallows, but they are often overpowered by these two groups. As a consequence, their population has slightly declined. 

15. Pyrrhuloxia

Scientific Name:Cardinalis sinuatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:8.3 in (21 cm)
Weight:0.8–1.5 oz (24–43 g)
Wingspan:12 in (30.4 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years 

The Pyrrhuloxia is a songbird with a brownish-gray body punctured with vivid red patches around its face, wingtips, tail, and breast. Aside from their color scheme, their size and shape are very similar to Northern Cardinals.

The common name for Pyrrhuloxias is ‘desert cardinals’ due to the fact that they are permanent residents of dry and arid habitats such as deserts and mesquite thickets in the Northern American continent.

In the winter, they will migrate to more lush areas nearby, especially those near water.

The diet of Pyrrhuloxias largely consists of seeds and insects. They are also known to eat cactus fruits. These birds are also a significant help to cotton fields, as they consume cotton worms and weevils. 

During colder seasons, however, Pyrrhuloxias will visit backyard feeders, especially for sunflower seeds. At this time, Pyrrhuloxias will forage together, sometimes reaching up to thousands of birds in one flock.

16. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Dryocopus pileatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:15.8–19.3 in (40–49 cm)
Weight:8.8–12.3 oz (250–350 g)
Wingspan:26–29.5 in (66–75 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 12 years 

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the largest forest birds in the country. These woodpeckers sport black wings and bodies, with white stripes along their necks and underwings and triangular, red crests atop their heads. 

Male Pileated Woodpeckers also have a small, red stripe along their cheek, but females do not. 

These woodpeckers are mostly known for leaving rectangular excavations in trunks of dead or rotten trees when searching for insects, particularly carpenter ants. These holes also serve as roosts and nesting grounds.

Pileated Woodpeckers prefer heavily wooded areas and forests, specifically those with large hardwood trees. As such, populations declined during the 18th and 19th centuries because of forest clearings.

Fortunately, Pileated Woodpeckers have also adapted to residential areas such as parks and woodlots around large cities. They can also be spotted in suburbs and backyards, albeit not as commonly as other woodpeckers. 

The breeding habitats of Pileated Woodpeckers span across Canada, the eastern United States, and some areas on the Pacific Coast. They are permanent residents who are quite defensive of their territories. 

Pro Tip: Pileated Woodpeckers prefer to peck at dead or decaying old trees to carve the cavities they want or to forage for insects, such as termites. Hence, if they are attracted to your home and start pecking on your wooden infrastructure, you may need to start checking for possible issues.

17. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak with wings tucked
Scientific Name:Pinicola enucleator
Conservation Status:Least Concern 
Length:7.9–10 in (20–25.5 cm)
Weight:1.8–2.8 oz (52–78 g)
Wingspan:13 in (33 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 9 years 

The Pine Grosbeak is a large, stocky red bird with a plump body and a short, stout beak.

Males are a vibrant rosy-red color, earning them a spot in our list of vibrant red birds. Meanwhile, females are a grayish-olive color with some red on their heads, wings, and tail. 

Pine Grosbeaks primarily feed on seeds, particularly those from coniferous trees like spruce and pine. They also eat buds, berries, and insects when they are available. 

These birds usually forage for food by hopping along small branches or searching the ground for fallen seeds. In colder seasons, they form groups to forage for food or to travel to bird feeders. 

They are found in the northern parts of North America, primarily in Canada and Alaska, where they live in coniferous forests and mountainous areas. During winters, they move to mountain ash, maple, and ash forests.

As such, these birds are vulnerable to habitat loss due to deforestation and climate change. In some areas, they are also hunted for their meat and feathers. 

Fun Fact: Pine Grosbeaks mainly eat plants, but their nestlings may find it hard to eat and digest these. Hence, they feed them a mix of insects and plants by turning this mix into a paste and carrying it in pouches at the bottom of their jaws, on both sides of their tongues.

18. Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red breasted Sapsucker
Scientific Name:Sphyrapicus ruber
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.9–8.7 in (20–22 cm)
Weight:1.9–2.2 oz (53.1–63.5 g)
Wingspan:14.6–16 in (27–40.6 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years 

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a medium-sized bird with a red head, throat, and breast, with black and white streaks on its back and wings. The males have a small red patch on the nape, but females do not.

Both sexes, however, have a white belly and a yellow wash on the sides, and their bills are thin and pointed, perfectly adapted for drilling into tree bark. 

As the name suggests, Red-breasted Sapsuckers feed primarily on sap, which they obtain by excavating small holes in tree barks. They also eat insects and, occasionally, fruits and berries. 

They are commonly found in western North America, from southern Alaska to central Mexico. They prefer to live in mixed coniferous forests and woodland areas with abundant sap-producing trees.

The unique feeding behavior of Red-breasted Sapsuckers has an interesting ecological impact, as their sap holes attract other animals like hummingbirds, warblers, and finches, which also feed on the sugary liquid.

19. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red bellied Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Melanerpes carolinus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:9.4 in (24 cm)
Weight:2.0–3.2 oz (56–91 g)
Wingspan:13–16.5 in (33–42 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 12 years

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is another medium-sized woodpecker native to North America. Their name comes from the faint red hue on their belly, which can be difficult to see, especially when they are perched on trees.

They have a prominent appearance similar to other red-headed woodpeckers in this list. Their body and face are mostly white, and their black wings also have white stripes. Males also have a red cap extending to their napes. 

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are omnivorous, feeding on a diet of insects, fruits, and seeds. Rather than drilling, these birds hitch along tree trunks and pick at the bark, sometimes using their long tongues to extract insects.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and parts of Canada.

They prefer forested areas with mature trees, but they can also be found in wooded, suburban residences. They are also known to visit feeders, especially those with suet or peanuts.

20. Red-crested Cardinal

Red crested Cardinal
Scientific Name:Paroaria coronata
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.08–7.87 in (18–20 cm)
Weight:1.05–1.23 oz (30–35 g)
Wingspan:7.87–8.66 in (20–22 cm)
Lifespan:3 – 6 years 

As its name suggests, the Red-crested Cardinal is characterized by its bright red crest on top of its head. The body is mostly gray, with a black face and a white chin, chest, and throat. 

Red-crested Cardinals are usually found in open habitats, such as savannas, grasslands, and agricultural fields. As such, it is easy to spot their red head in these vastly green habitats. 

They are also known to frequent urban areas and gardens, where they feed on seeds, insects, and fruits. They do so by forming pairs or groups to forage on the ground. 

They are native to South America and can be found in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. This is why Red-crested Cardinals are also referred to as Brazilian cardinals. 

Furthermore, their popularity as pets has led to their introduction to other parts of the world. However, this has caused Red-crested Cardinals to become an invasive species that competes with native wild birds in some areas.

21. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill side profile
Scientific Name:Loxia curvirostra
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.8 in (20 cm)
Weight:1.4–1.8 oz (40–53 g)
Wingspan:10.6–11.4 in (27–29 cm)
Lifespan:8–16 years 

The Red Crossbill is a small passerine finch named after its distinctive bill, which is crossed at the tips, allowing it to efficiently extract seeds from conifer cones. 

This unique bill structure makes them specialist feeders, meaning they can access food sources other birds cannot.

Male Red Crossbills have a brick-red plumage with dark brown streaks, while females have a more olive-green body with yellow-green streaks. 

However, there is a wide variation of beak sizes and shapes found in this species, leading to a classification of different ‘types’ of Red Crossbills. One of these has since been promoted to a full species — the Cassia Crossbill. 

Red Crossbills are nomadic migrants whose movements are largely determined by the availability of conifer seeds. In other words, they go wherever they find abundant food sources. 

They are also known to occasionally visit feeders, especially if they offer sunflower seeds. 

This behavior can make it challenging to track the population trends of Red Crossbills. Still, they are known to inhabit coniferous forests in North America, Europe, and Asia.

My curiosity about Red Crossbills and their bill structures made me closely study how these birds actually eat.

Feeding them their favorite conifer seeds, I noticed that they first grasp the cone with one foot, which is the one on the other side to which the lower mandible crosses.

Using their beaks like sideway pliers, they move the upper and lower parts of their beaks in opposite directions. This action helps them bite between the scales of the cone.

The lower part of their beak opens the cone scale to reveal the seed, which they then pick out with their tongue.

22. Red-faced Warbler

Red faced Warbler
Scientific Name:Cardellina rubrifrons
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.5 in (14 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.4 oz (8–11 g)
Wingspan:8.3 in (21 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 3 years 

The Red-faced Warbler is known for its intensely bright red head, throat, and breast, contrasting with a slate-gray back and wing. Females have a paler red face and breasts with a yellowish-gray back and wings.

Although these birds molt once a year, they retain their bright red hues throughout all seasons.

Red-faced Warblers live in mountainous and subalpine forests, specifically that of pine and oak. They flit along branches and foliage when foraging for insects, spiders, and small fruits. 

When migrating, however, these birds can be found at elevations below 6,000 feet, often along streams or small bodies of water. They also build their nests here, using moss, lichen, and bark for construction.

Red-faced Warblers are native to the western region of North America, particularly in the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico.

Unfortunately, this makes them more vulnerable to habitat loss in light of logging, mining, and forest clearing. As such, conservation efforts are being made to protect the population of Red-faced Warblers.

23. Redhead Duck

Redhead duck
Scientific Name:Aythya americana
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:16.5–21.3 in (42–54 cm)
Weight:22.2–52.9 oz (630–1,500 g)
Wingspan:29.5–31.1 in (75–79 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years 

The Redhead Duck is a medium-sized diving duck that is named for the male’s red head and neck, which contrast with its gray body and black breast. During breeding seasons, it also exhibits a bright blue bill. 

Redhead Ducks nest in freshwater marshes, prairie potholes, and other wetland habitats throughout much of North America. These birds are well known for laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, especially other Redheads.

As diving ducks, their diets mainly consist of aquatic plants like green algae and pondweed. They forage by “dabbling” in shallow waters to reach for these underwater food resources. 

During the winter, Redhead Ducks migrate to coastal areas and inland lakes, particularly in the southern United States and Mexico. They are social birds and often gather in large flocks, sometimes with other species of ducks.

Redhead Ducks are considered game birds and are hunted in some areas. As such, their populations have declined in recent years due to habitat loss, degradation, and hunting pressure. 

24. Red-headed Woodpecker

Red headed Woodpecker
Scientific Name:Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.5–9.1 in (19–23 cm)
Weight:2.0–3.2 oz (56–91 g)
Wingspan:16.5 in (42 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 12 years

The Red-headed Woodpecker is distinct from other woodpecker birds due to its bright red head, which contrasts sharply with its white body and black wings.

They feed on a variety of fruits and seeds. They are also known to catch and store insects and other small prey in tree crevices. To do so, they cling to tree trunks and branches in various positions while pecking at the bark.

One can find Red-headed Woodpeckers living in forests, orchards, and open woodlands throughout much of the eastern and central parts of the United States. 

Although Red-headed Woodpeckers were designated as a near-threatened species in 2004, there has been a resurgence in their population since 2018.

Fun Fact: Red-headed Woodpeckers are the only woodpecker species known to store food by covering storage areas with wood or bark. Grasshoppers, in particular, are wedged into these tree crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.

25. Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring necked Pheasant
Scientific Name:Phasianus colchicus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:23.5–35 in (60–89 cm)
Weight:17.6–105.8 oz (500–3,000 g)
Wingspan:22–34 in (56–86 cm)
Lifespan:11–18 years

The Ring-necked Pheasant, also known as the common pheasant, is a game bird best known for its bright and colorful plumage. These beautiful feathers are prized for their decorative and artistic uses. 

Male Ring-necked Pheasants have a red face on their bright green head, a white neck ring, and iridescent copper and gold feathers. Females are less showy, with brown and tan feathers that blend in with their surroundings.

Ring-necked Pheasants are omnivores with a diverse diet of grains, seeds, insects, and small animals. They forage mostly by walking or running, only resorting to flying if disturbed by predators like humans, foxes, or coyotes.

They are most active in the morning and evening, hiding in tall grasses or underbrush for the rest of the day. As such, you can find them in agricultural areas like rural roadsides, overgrown fields, and hedgerows.

Unfortunately, Ring-necked Pheasants are hunted for sport and also raised on farms for meat and eggs. Thus, there has been a decline in their wild population in recent years. 

26. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated Hummingbird
Scientific Name:Archilochus colubris
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:2.8–3.5 in (7–9 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (2–6 g)
Wingspan:3.1–4.3 in (8–11 cm)
Lifespan:3–5 years

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small but vibrant bird that is widely admired for its distinct features. Adult males have a brilliant iridescent green back and crown with a striking ruby-red color on their throats.

Similar to other hummingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a unique flying ability that allows them to hover in place, fly forward, backward, sideward, and even upside down. However, they are not as adept with walking or hopping due to their short legs. 

Their diet primarily consists of nectar from flowers, although they are also known to feast on insects from time to time. Due to their high metabolism levels, they must consume food frequently. 

These birds are the only species of hummingbird that regularly breeds in eastern North America. They can be found in meadows, grasslands, parks, and gardens. They also frequent feeders, especially in the summer.

Fun Fact: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can fly up to 60 miles per hour during courtship displays, making them one of the fastest birds in the world.

27. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager with red head
Scientific Name:Piranga olivacea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:Up to 11 years 

The male Scarlet Tanager is a brightly colored songbird known for its rich scarlet plumage, which contrasts sharply with their jet-black wings and tail. Females, on the other hand, are olive-green with yellowish underparts.

However, these bright hues can only be found in the spring and the summer. After breeding seasons, male Scarlet Tanagers molt into a female-like plumage. 

Despite this, these birds are among the most difficult to spot. Scarlet Tanagers are primarily birds of deciduous forests, preferring high trees and shrubby habitats. 

During the summer, Scarlet Tanagers primarily feed on insects and spiders by quickly flitting from branch to branch. However, they also consume a variety of berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, and huckleberries. 

Scarlet Tanagers can be spotted mostly in the eastern United States. In the winter, they are known to migrate to large forests and woodlands of Northwest, Central and South America, and Mexico. 

28. Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager looking sideways
Scientific Name:Piranga rubra
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.7 in (17 cm)
Weight:1 oz (29 g)
Wingspan:11–11.8 in (28–30 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years 

The male Summer Tanager is best known for being the only completely red bird in Northern America, making it stand out among green foliage. In contrast, female Summer Tanagers are of a greenish-yellow color.

These medium-sized red birds are primarily insectivorous, catching and eating insects such as beetles, wasps, and bees mid-air. When insects are scarce, they will also feed on fruits and berries. 

Similar to Scarlet Tanagers, however, their intensely red plumage does not make them any less difficult to spot in the wild since Summer Tanagers prefer to inhabit high and leafy areas in forest canopies. 

As such, their natural habitats include deciduous and mixed forests, riparian habitats, orchards, and suburban areas with mature trees. 

They can be spotted all throughout the southern United States in the spring. In the winter, however, they will form small flocks and travel to southern Mexico and Central and South America. 

29. Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher perched on a tree
Scientific Name:Pyrocephalus rubinus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.1–5.5 in (13–14 cm)
Weight:0.39–0.49 oz (11–14 g)
Wingspan:9.4–9.8 in (24–25 cm)
Lifespan:4–5 years 

With its charming color scheme, the Vermilion Flycatcher is an eye-catching bird, especially in the wild.

Aside from them belonging to birds with beautiful crests, males of this species sport rich, red-orange bodies punctured with dark brown across the eyes, back, wings, and tail.

Females and immature Vermilion Flycatchers, on the other hand, have duller plumage but still retain a reddish crest. 

As their name implies, Vermilion Flycatchers are skilled hunters of flying insects. They are also known to catch small lizards, grasshoppers, and butterflies on occasion.

Interestingly, the courting rituals of male Vermilion Flycatchers include offering “gifts” to the female, such as butterflies and other flashy insects. 

Thus, these birds prefer open habitats, such as grasslands, deserts, and scrublands, where they can perch on low branches or fences and catch insects in flight with the aid of their sharp eyes and lightning-fast reflexes. 

These species are common throughout Central and South America year-round. Smaller flocks may also travel to the Gulf Coast during winter.

30. Western Tanager

Western Tanager with red head
Scientific Name:Piranga ludoviciana
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.3–7.5 in (16–19 cm)
Weight:0.8–1.3 oz (24–35 g)
Wingspan:11.5 in (29 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 7 years 

The male Western Tanager is a plethora of colors. Categorized under the group of yellow birds with black wings, they also bear bright orange faces that gradually deepen into scarlet red on their foreheads. 

While most red-headed birds obtain their color from plant-based pigments, the Western Tanager differs in that it gets its scarlet cap from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin, which often comes from insects.

These include wasps, ants, termites, dragonflies, and so much more. Aside from these, however, Western Tanagers enjoy fruits like wild cherries and blackberries, especially during the fall and winter. 

Western Tanagers are primarily found in coniferous-deciduous forests, but they can also be seen in mixed woodlands and urban parks during migration. They are quite territorial, establishing their dominance with nonstop singing.

These birds are commonly spotted in woodlands of up to 10,000 feet in elevation in Northwestern America. In the winter, they may migrate to pine-oak woodlands and forest edges in Central America.

31. White-winged Crossbill

White winged Crossbill
Scientific Name:Loxia leucoptera 
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.9–6.7 in (15–17 cm)
Weight:0.8–0.9 oz (24–26 g)
Wingspan:10.2–11 in (26–28 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 4 years 

Amateur bird watchers may have some difficulty identifying the White-winged Crossbill, given its appearance similar to the Red Crossbill.

Both have rosy red bodies with dark wings; however, White-winged Crossbills sport two white wing bars, hence their name. Females of these species are more yellowish but bear the same wing and tail patterns.

Also, similar to Red Crossbills, White-Winged Crossbills are a specialist feeder thanks to their uniquely structured bill that crosses at the tips, assisting these species with seed extraction. 

On average, single White-winged Crossbills can eat up to 3,000 coniferous seeds per day. Aside from this, their summer diet consists of insects, specifically spruce budworms and coneworms.

White-winged Crossbills are social birds and are often found in small flocks. They are known to travel great distances in search of food and may form large flocks during irruption years.

They can be found mainly in boreal forests in Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States but generally tend to avoid pine, hemlock, or Douglas-fir forests, as these are often occupied by Red Crossbills. 

32. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow bellied Sapsucker perched on tree bark
Scientific Name:Sphyrapicus varius
Conservation Status:Least Concern
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)
Lifespan:6–7 years 

From its name alone, most people would not know that the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is actually a woodpecker. 

The first part of their name comes from their distinctive yellow belly, which is accompanied by a black and white striped back, a red head, and a black bib. 

However, they are referred to as sapsuckers due to their unique feeding habits, which involve drilling rows of small holes in trees to drink sap and capture insects that are attracted to the sap. 

Aside from sap and insects, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers will also eat fruits and nuts. During the breeding season, they are also known to feed on eggs and nestlings of other birds.

Despite this carnivorous tendency, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are an important part of the ecosystem. The openings they create within trees provide habitats for fellow birds and animals. 

As primarily migratory birds, they are mostly found across northern regions such as Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern United States. In the winter, they migrate south to the eastern United States and Central America. 

Which of these red-headed beauties are you most excited to spot in the future? Tell us your thoughts and feel free to ask any questions you may have about these beautiful birds in the comments below!

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