Have you ever seen beautiful birds with red heads while exploring the outdoors or observing wildlife in your backyard? If so, you’re not alone!
Red headed birds have always caught the eye of many nature enthusiasts, prompting them to embark on a quest to identify these vibrant bird species.
Whether you are an amateur bird watcher or an experienced ornithologist, recognizing and distinguishing between different species of birds is an exciting skill.
Knowing each bird’s distinct features and characteristics aids in appreciating its diversity and marveling at nature’s beautiful creations.
Common Birds with Redheads
- Acorn Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
- Red-naped Sapsucker
- Red-breasted Sapsucker
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet
- House Finch
- Purple Finch
- Cassin’s Finch
- Common Redpoll
- Red-faced Warbler
- Scarlet Tanager
- Summer Tanager
- Western Tanager
- Northern Cardinal
- Red-headed Woodpecker
- Pine Grosbeak
- Vermilion Flycatcher
- Red Crossbill
- Turkey Vulture
- Northern Flicker
- Pileated Woodpecker
In this article, we will help identify the beautiful red headed birds you may see on a walk or in your backyard.
By familiarizing yourself with the various bird species that boast red heads, you can enhance your bird-watching experiences and deepen your understanding of the species in your area.
Small Birds with red heads
1. Acorn woodpecker
The Acorn Woodpecker is a unique bird species native to North and Central America.
This woodpecker is known for its distinctive appearance, featuring a black and white striped head and a bright red cap on its forehead.
The Acorn Woodpecker is also recognized for its unique behavior of storing acorns in granaries in trees, fence posts, and buildings. These granaries can contain thousands of acorns, making them essential food sources for the woodpecker during winter.
You can find Acorn Woodpeckers in oak woodlands and mixed coniferous forests throughout their range, extending from the western United States through Mexico and Central America.
They are social birds living in family groups and can often work together to gather and store acorns.
In addition to their granary-building behavior, Acorn Woodpeckers are known for their loud calls and distinctive drumming sounds as they peck on trees.
Overall, the Acorn Woodpecker is a fascinating bird species that play an essential ecological role in its habitat.
2. Red-bellied Woodpecker
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a colorful bird species found in the eastern part of North America.
These woodpeckers are named for the reddish tinge on their bellies, which can be seen in flight or perched on a tree trunk.
They also have a distinctive black and white striped back and wings and a bright red cap on their heads.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known for their drilling behavior, as they use their powerful bills to peck into trees in search of insects and other food sources.
They also store food in crevices and bark for later consumption. You can spot Red-bellied Woodpeckers in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas with mature trees.
These woodpeckers are vocal birds, often making chattering and churring sounds. They often visit a bird feeder offering suet, peanuts, or other nuts.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a popular bird species for birdwatchers due to its striking appearance and exciting behaviors.
3. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a small woodpecker species in North and Central America.
These woodpeckers have a distinctive appearance featuring a black and white striped head and back, a yellowish belly, and a red forehead and throat patch in males.
They are named for their unique feeding behavior of drilling holes in trees and feeding on the sap that flows out and the insects that are attracted to it. They will often visit a bird feeder that offers suet.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are migratory birds, spending their breeding season in the boreal forests of Canada and the northern United States and their winter months in the southeastern United States and Mexico.
They are fascinating to observe as they drill their distinct rows of holes in trees and return to feed on the sap.
In addition to their feeding behavior, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are also essential ecosystem engineers, creating cavities in trees that other birds and mammals can use for nesting and shelter.
4. Red-naped sapsucker
The Red-naped Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker species found in western North America.
These woodpeckers have a distinctive appearance featuring a black and white striped body overall, a red nape, a red cap, and a red throat. The males have more red under their chins than females.
Like other sapsuckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers are named for their unique feeding behavior of drilling holes in trees and feeding on the sap that flows out and the insects that are attracted to it.
They prefer mixed forests and woodlands within their range, often near water sources.
Red-naped Sapsuckers are migratory birds, spending their breeding season in the mountains of western North America and their winter months in lower elevations in the southern United States and Mexico.
Red-naped Sapsuckers are important ecosystem engineers, creating cavities in trees that other birds and mammals can use for nesting and shelter.
5. Red-breasted sapsucker
The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker species found on the west coast of North America.
These woodpeckers have a striking appearance featuring a red head and breast, a black and white mottled back, and a streaked belly with a yellowish tinge.
Red-breasted Sapsuckers are named for their unique feeding behavior of drilling holes in trees and feeding on the sap that flows out and the insects that are attracted to it.
Red-breasted Sapsuckers are migratory birds, spending their breeding season in the mountains of western North America and their winter months in lower elevations.
These woodpeckers prefer coniferous and mixed forests, often near water sources.
6. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a small woodpecker species primarily found in the southwestern regions of North America.
These woodpeckers have a distinct appearance, featuring a black and white checkered pattern on their wings, a white belly, and a ladder-like pattern of black bars on their back. They have a pale face with a dark line that runs through the eye. The male Ladder-backed Woodpecker has a bright red crown.
Ladder-backed Woodpeckers inhabit various arid and semi-arid habitats, including desert scrub, woodlands, and open areas with scattered trees.
Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are non-migratory and are year-round residents in their range.
The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a fascinating species, well-adapted to arid environments, and plays a vital role in insect control and cavity creation within their habitats.
7. Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Nuttall’s Woodpecker is a small woodpecker species native to the west coast regions of North America.
These woodpeckers have a black and white striped pattern on their head and back, a white belly, and two white lines on their cheeks. Male Nuttall’s Woodpeckers have red caps on their heads, while females have black caps.
Nuttall’s Woodpeckers live in oak woodlands, riparian areas, and mixed forests. They are agile climbers and frequently move up and down tree trunks and branches in search of insects and their larvae.
They have a distinctive call that consists of a series of short, sharp notes. Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are year-round residents in their range, and their populations do not typically exhibit migratory behavior.
Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are an intriguing woodpecker species known for their distinctive appearance, foraging behavior, and contribution to their woodland habitats in western North America.
8. Downy woodpecker
The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker species widely found across North America.
These woodpeckers are known for their compact size and charming appearance. They have a black and white pattern above and are white below. Males have a small red patch on their heads, while females do not.
Downy Woodpeckers inhabit various wooded habitats, including forests, woodlots, parks, and even urban areas with trees. They also feed on seeds and berries and are very common visitors to backyard bird feeders offering suet.
Downy Woodpeckers are year-round residents in their range, although they may make short-distance movements in search of food or nesting sites.
The Downy Woodpecker is a delightful and commonly observed woodpecker species.
9. Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers that can be seen across North America.
These woodpeckers closely resemble the Downy Woodpecker but are larger, and their bill is longer and slightly thicker.
They have a black and white pattern on their back and a white belly. Like the Downy Woodpecker, males have a small patch of red on the back of their heads, while females lack this feature.
Hairy Woodpeckers inhabit various forested habitats, including deciduous forests, coniferous forests, and mixed woodlands. They are frequent visitors to backyards and gardens that have suet feeders.
The Hairy Woodpecker is a fascinating woodpecker species known for its larger size and similar appearance to the Downy Woodpecker. Its presence in forests is beneficial, contributing to insect control and playing a role in the natural ecosystem.
10. Ruby-crowned kinglet
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a small songbird species found in North America.
These kinglets are known for their petite size and acrobatic behavior. They have olive-green or grayish upperparts, a whitish belly, and distinctive white eye-rings.
Males possess a hidden ruby-red crown patch that is typically only visible when excited or displaying courtship behavior.
During the breeding season, ruby-crowned Kinglets live in coniferous forests and mixed woodlands in Canada. They are migratory birds, spending their winters in more southern regions of North America, including Mexico and Central America.
They have a restless foraging behavior, constantly flitting from branch to branch in search of insects and spiders.
Although small in size, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are renowned for their remarkable vocalizations. They have a high-pitched, melodious song that consists of a series of rapid musical notes.
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a captivating and energetic bird species known for its attractive plumage, lively foraging behavior, and beautiful vocalizations.
11. House finch
House Finches are small red-headed finches native throughout North America.
Adult males display vibrant plumage, with reddish or rosy coloration on their head, breast, and rump, while females and juveniles have a more subdued brown or gray plumage.
House Finches are highly adaptable and can live in various habitats, including urban areas, suburbs, open woodlands, and shrubby habitats.
House Finches are non-migratory birds and can be seen in their North American range all year round.
The House Finch is a common and charismatic bird species that brings color and cheerful songs to various habitats. Their adaptability and ability to coexist with humans make them familiar in many backyard feeders and gardens.
12. Purple finch
Purple Finches are small songbirds found throughout most of North America.
Despite its name, the plumage of the male Purple Finch is a rosy-red color rather than purple. Females and juveniles have a more subdued plumage with brown streaks on their underparts.
Purple Finches live in various habitats, including coniferous forests, mixed woodlands, and suburban areas with trees. They have a versatile diet that includes seeds, fruits, buds, and insects.
Purple Finches are migratory birds that breed primarily in Canada and spend their winters in states below the great lakes.
The Purple Finch is a charming bird species known for its vibrant red plumage (in males) and delightful songs. Their presence adds color and melodic tunes to the woodlands and gardens they visit.
13. Cassin’s finch
Cassin’s Finches are medium-sized songbirds native to western North America.
Male Cassin’s Finches have a distinct appearance with a rosy-pink body, bright red crown, and subtle streaks on their underparts. Females and juveniles display a more muted coloration with gray-brown plumage.
Cassin’s Finches primarily live in mountainous evergreen forests in the western half of North America.
Cassin’s Finches are partially migratory, with some populations residing in their breeding range throughout the year while others undertake seasonal movements to lower elevations during the winter.
They have a varied diet that includes seeds, buds, berries, and insects.
The Cassin’s Finch is a captivating bird species whose presence in the forests adds charm, and their adaptability to different habitats contributes to the rich avian diversity of western North America.
14. Common redpoll
The Common Redpoll is a small songbird found in the northern regions of North America.
They have a streaky brown and white body, a small red cap on their head, and a black feathering around their bill. Males have pale red chests and sides.
Common Redpolls live in various habitats, including open woodlands, scrublands, and tundra. Common Redpolls are migratory birds whose distribution and abundance vary significantly year after year.
They primarily feed on seeds, particularly those from birch and alder trees, and will visit backyard bird feeders that offer nyjer or black-oil sunflower seeds.
The Common Redpoll is a charming and resilient bird species, known for its delightful appearance and cheerful songs. Their presence adds color and liveliness to the northern landscapes they inhabit.
15. Red-faced Warbler
The Red-faced Warbler is a small songbird species found in the southwestern region of North America, specifically in the high-elevation coniferous forests of Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Mexico.
Red-faced Warblers have gray bodies, bright red faces, and a black crown. Females are more pale in color compared to males.
They are known for their agile and acrobatic behavior as they navigate the branches. These warblers primarily forage for insects and spiders by actively searching through the foliage of trees and shrubs.
Red-faced Warblers are primarily migratory, spending the winter months in Mexico and returning to their breeding grounds in the mountains during the summer.
The Red-faced Warbler is a captivating bird species known for its vibrant red face and sweet sounding song. Its presence in the high-elevation forests adds beauty and charm to the southwestern landscapes it calls home.
16. Scarlet Tanager
The Scarlet Tanager is a striking songbird in the eastern half of North America, the Caribbean, and northwest South America.
These tanagers are known for their vibrant plumage, with males displaying a brilliant scarlet body and contrasting black wings and tails.
Females have a more subdued appearance with olive-green upperparts and yellowish underparts.
Scarlet Tanagers are long-distance migrants, spending their summer months in deciduous forests in eastern North America and winter in the tropical forests of Central and Northwestern South America.
They undertake impressive journeys twice yearly, traveling thousands of miles to reach their breeding and wintering grounds.
Scarlet Tanagers primarily feed on insects such as beetles, moths, bees, caterpillars, and spiders during the breeding season and fruits such as mulberry and elderberries when available.
The Scarlet Tanager is a captivating bird species admired for its vibrant red plumage and delightful songs.
17. Summer Tanager
The Summer Tanager is a colorful songbird species found in North, Central, and South America.
These tanagers exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males displaying a vibrant solid red plumage while females have a more subdued yellowish-green or olive coloration.
Summer Tanagers live in various habitats, including open woodlands, forest edges, and riparian areas. They primarily feed on insects such as cicadas, caterpillars, bees, and wasps by catching them in mid-air or foraging for them among tree foliage.
Summer Tanagers are long-distance migrants, spending their summers in the southern half of North America and their winter months in Central and northern South America.
The Summer Tanager is an unmissable bird species known for its stunning red plumage (in males) and its vibrant presence in North, Central, and South American woodland areas.
18. Western Tanager
The Western Tanager is a vibrant songbird species in the western half of North America and Central America.
These tanagers are known for their striking plumage, with males exhibiting a bright yellow body, contrasting black wings and tail, and a reddish-orange face. Females have a more subdued appearance with an olive-yellow overall coloration.
Western Tanagers live in various habitats, including coniferous forests, mixed woodlands, and mountainous regions.
Western Tanagers are long-distance migrants, spending their breeding months in Canada and the United States and the winter months in Mexico and Central America.
They primarily feed on insects such as bees, wasps, grasshoppers, ants, and cicadas. They forage high among tree foliage and sometimes catch insects in mid-air. They also feed on elderberries and mulberry when available.
19. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal is a large, colorful songbird native to the eastern half of North America.
They are known for their striking plumage, with males displaying bright red feathers, a distinctive head crest, and a black mask around their bill. Females have a more subtle appearance, with a reddish hue on their wings, tail, and crest and a grayish-brown body.
Northern Cardinals live in woodlands, gardens, and shrubby areas. They have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, insects, and even small vertebrates. They will frequently visit a bird feeder that offers a variety of seeds.
Northern Cardinals are non-migratory birds, with individuals residing in their range all year round. Their vibrant red plumage and melodious songs make them a familiar and beloved sight at many backyard feeders and gardens.
20. Red-headed Woodpecker
The Red-headed Woodpecker is a notable bird species in North America’s eastern half.
These woodpeckers are known for their bold and distinctive appearance, with a deep red head, neck, and upper breast, contrasting with a solid black back, wings, and tail. They also have white underparts and white patches on their wings.
Red-headed Woodpeckers live in various habitats, including open pine woodlands, forest edges, and areas with dead trees or snags. They are omnivorous and have a diverse diet that includes insects, fruits, nuts, and occasionally small vertebrates.
They are known for storing food, often wedging it into crevices or hiding it under the bark to feed on during the winter months.
While some populations of Red-headed Woodpeckers in the northern states and Canada are migratory, others in the central United States are non-migratory and reside in their breeding territories year-round.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is a charismatic bird species admired for its striking appearance and energetic behavior. Its vivid red head and black-and-white plumage make it a standout among other woodpecker species, adding color and vibrancy to the woodlands it calls home.
The Pyrrhuloxia is a unique and striking bird species found in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico.
It is often called the “Desert Cardinal” due to its resemblance to the Northern Cardinal in shape and behavior. However, Pyrrhuloxia has distinct characteristics that make it unique.
Pyrrhuloxias have a grayish overall plumage with a vibrant red crest on their head, face, and breast, contrasting with a gray back and wings. Males generally have brighter red coloration than females.
These birds live in arid and desert regions, including mesquite woodlands, thorn scrub, and desert scrub habitats. Pyrrhuloxias are non-migratory birds residing in their breeding territories year-round.
They have adapted to the desert environment and have a varied diet of seeds, insects, and berries. They will also visit backyard bird feeders that offer sunflower seeds.
Pyrrhuloxias have a variety of vocalizations, including a series of clear, metallic notes and whistled songs. Their songs are described as simpler and less musical than the Northern Cardinal.
22. Pine Grosbeak
The Pine Grosbeak is a charming bird species found in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.
These grosbeaks are known for their robust build and distinctive plumage. Males have a vibrant rosy-red coloration on their bodies and gray wings and tail.
Conversely, females have a more subdued appearance, with grayish-brown plumage and a slight tint of red on their heads and rump.
Pine Grosbeaks primarily live in boreal forests and mountainous areas, feeding on various seeds, insects, berries, and buds. Their diet can vary depending on the season, with a preference for conifer seeds during the winter months and insects during the summer months.
They will visit backyard feeders that offer sunflower seeds, suet, and fruit.
These grosbeaks have a melodious and flutelike song, often heard during the breeding season as males sing to attract mates and establish territories.
The Pine Grosbeak is a delightful bird species admired for the male’s vibrant red plumage and its sweet songs that add beauty and charm to the Northern Forests it calls home.
23. Vermilion Flycatcher
The Vermilion Flycatcher is a notable bird species in southwest North America and Central America.
Male vermilion Flycathers have bright red coloration on their head, breast, and belly, with contrasting dark brown or black wings and tail.
Females have a more subdued appearance, combining gray, brown, and pale orange tones on their belly.
Vermilion Flycatchers live in various open habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and desert brushy areas. They are adept at aerial foraging, catching flying insects mid-air with their agile flight and acrobatic maneuvers.
Vermilion Flycatchers are generally non-migratory, with individuals residing in their range all year round. However, some populations in the northern areas of their range may migrate further south for the winter.
24. Red Crossbill
The Red Crossbill is a unique bird species found in North America’s western and northernmost areas.
They are pretty interesting because they have a unique bill shape, which is crossed at the tips, allowing them to extract seeds from conifer cones.
Red Crossbills vary in color between sexes, with males often displaying rusty red bodies with dark wings and tails. Females are yellow below and olive-brown above.
Red Crossbills are specialized feeders, relying on the seeds found within the cones of coniferous trees as their primary food source. Their crossed bills enable them to pry open the cone scales and extract the nutritious seeds.
They are nomadic birds with no predictable migration and tend to move to new areas when the food supply changes. These birds live primarily in mature coniferous forests and woodlands.
The Red Crossbill is an intriguing bird species appreciated for its specialized bill adaptation and association with coniferous forests. Their unique appearance and behavior make them fascinating for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Big Birds With Red Heads
1. Turkey Vulture
The Turkey Vulture is a large bird of prey found in the Americas and has a distinctive appearance featuring a bald red head and a dark brown body.
They can soar effortlessly for long periods, often flying in circles on thermal updrafts, looking for their next meal.
Turkey Vultures are carrion feeders, feeding almost exclusively on the carcasses of dead animals, which they locate by their sense of smell.
You can find Turkey Vultures throughout much of North, Central, and South America. They prefer open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, fields, and landfills and will often be seen perched near roadsides.
They also roost in large groups in trees or on the ground. Despite their unappealing dietary habits, Turkey Vultures play an essential ecological role in cleaning up dead animals and preventing the spread of disease.
They are also fascinating birds to observe in flight, with their enormous wingspan and graceful soaring ability.
2. Northern flicker (Western Species)
The Northern Flicker is a large woodpecker species found throughout North America.
Northern Flickers come in two color variations, yellow-shafted (Eastern) and red-shafted (Western). They are brown overall with black spots, a white rump patch visible in flight, and a black crescent-shaped chest patch.
The yellow-shafted Northern Flicker has a yellow undertail, and the Red-shafted Northern Flicker has a red undertail.
The Yellow-shafted species has a red patch on the back of their heads, while the male Red-shafted has a red streak on their cheeks.
Northern Flickers live in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, open fields, and urban areas with trees. They are year-round residents in most of their range, while they may migrate or exhibit partial migration in other regions.
They are often seen on the ground, foraging for ants and other insects by probing the soil with their bills. They also feed on fruits, seeds, and suet at a backyard bird feeder.
The Northern Flicker is a captivating woodpecker species known for its striking plumage and interesting ground behaviors.
It’s foraging habits and preference for trees, and open areas make it a versatile and adaptable bird found across many North American habitats.
3. Pileated woodpecker
Pileated Woodpeckers are large and impressive birds seen throughout most of North America.
These woodpeckers have an incredibly noticeable appearance. With a black body, a prominent red crest on their head, and white stripes along their face, neck, and wings.
Pileated Woodpeckers are non-migratory birds, with individuals typically residing in their territories throughout the year. Pileated Woodpeckers live in mature mixed forests, particularly those with large trees and abundant dead wood.
They feed primarily on carpenter ants and other insects, including termites and wood-boring beetle larvae, which they excavate from tree trunks and branches using their powerful beak. They will also eat fruits and nuts when the opportunity is there.
These woodpeckers have a distinctive vocalization, often described as a loud, cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk sound that rises and falls in pitch and volume.
They also use drumming to communicate, establish territories, and attract mates.
Keep A Eye Out For Birds With Red Heads
Birds with red heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each offering something unique to appreciate. From the vibrant Northern Cardinals to the acrobatic Vermilion Flycatcher, these birds add beauty and charm to their respective habitats.
Whether you’re a bird watching enthusiast or just someone who enjoys learning about nature, taking some time to learn about the common birds with red heads will provide you with a newfound appreciation for these vibrant species.
We hope this article has provided all the information you need. If you have questions about identifying more species of birds with red heads or want to add a red headed bird to this list, let us know!
We would love to help identify more red headed birds and add to our list for our readers to enjoy.