There are some brightly colored species of birds in North America, and there are many that are different shades of red. Birds are red for many reasons. Their colors help them attract mates and defend their territories.
The red colors in their plumage come from pigments in their food. These molecules are called carotenoids, producing a yellow pigment; however, some birds change this into red. You sometimes see a yellow cardinal, not a red cardinal.
In this article, we look at the birds with red plumage in North America.
The rose-throated becard can be found in North America in Arizona, southern Texas, and northern Mexico. They generally migrate south for the winter.
The Rose-Throated Becard is a small songbird with a long tail that lives primarily on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, moths, crickets, and spiders. This particular bird species spends its days foraging for food from dawn to dusk before returning to its roosting spot at nightfall. They are often found in woodland habitats with trees and shrubs for nesting and feeding, though they can be seen near water sources like streams or ponds.
Mals are most easily identified by their distinctive red throat (gorget) and black head, while females are brownish-grey and do not have the red spot.
Eurasian bullfinches are rare birds in North America. They generally inhabit the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Europe. They can sometimes be seen in Alaska, flying over from Russia.
These birds have beautiful plumage that changes colors with age, from a light brown color as juvenile females to orange and yellow as they mature into adult males. Males have dark orange to red underparts with blue wings, but females are drabber with grey-brown underparts and wings.
They like to nest near shrubs or under tree branches, where they have plenty of cover from predators such as cats and hawks. It’s often seen feeding on seeds and berries or perched on branches near its nest.
The beautiful painted bunting has some of the best colors in North America. Males have an intense blue head with red underparts, rump, and green wings. These colors only appear from their second year, while females stay green, making them hard to spot among the foliage.
They can be found among woodland edges, shrubbery, and brushy areas, but they can also be found visiting gardens with dense shrubs. There are two subspecies of painted bunting in North America. They can be found in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. They have been seen as far north as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The northern cardinal is one of the most recognizable birds in the United States. The northern cardinal has been designated the state bird for seven U.S. states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Northern Cardinals are a common bird throughout the eastern United States. They are strikingly beautiful birds with a bright crimson red body and black mask around the eyes and neck. With its striking coloration, the northern cardinal often stands out in its environment of green leaves and brown branches.
Northern cardinals inhabit urban and rural areas, forests, city parks, and suburban backyards.
The red-crested cardinal is a medium-sized bird. They are known for their vibrant feathers and the crest of feathers on their heads, making them easily identifiable. It gets its name from the crest, which it displays during courtship and territorial disputes. Their heads are bright red, with a light gray body and darker gray wings.
They live in shrubland and agricultural areas and can be found near lakes and rivers. In North America, they can be found in Hawaii and live in parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. They like to eat seeds, insects, fruit, and berries.
The common chaffinch is not common in North America. They generally live in Europe and Africa, but some sightings have been made in the U.S. and Canada.
Males have a reddish-orange breast with a gray and black head with a rust-red throat. They have a greenish rump with a gray and black tail with white wedges.
The red crossbill gets its name from its distinctive bill. Their beaks cross at the tips. These bills allow them to access conifer cones. They have a unique way of eating seeds from pine cones using their crossed mandibles. Crossbills can use their bills to pry seeds out from tight pine cones, which they then crack open by pressing their mandibles together.
There are nine red crossbill variants in North America, each with its beak size and shape. Each of these nine variants lives in different areas of North America, depending on the type of conifer seeds in the area.
They can be found in mountains and pine, spruce, and fir forests but can also be seen around towns and backyards. They live in Alaska and most of Canada throughout most of the United States.
They are a deep brick red, with dark reddish-brown flight and tail feathers. Females are brownish or olive-brown.
The white-winged crossbill is a small, stocky finch with a bill that is crossed. They have the remarkable ability to extract seeds from pinecones. The crossbill’s beak can fit neatly into the tiny holes in a pinecone, and because of this adaptation, it doesn’t need to compete with other birds for food sources.
The white-winged crossbill is red and can be distinguished from the red crossbill by the white wing bars. They also have a higher call than the red crossbill, especially when making the chip call.
The common rosefinch is a medium-sized, seed-eating bird rare in North America. They are a vagrant visitor from Europe and Asia. They are known for their bright red head, breast, and rump, with a gray or white belly.
Females are often mistaken for house sparrows as they do not have the red coloring, but they have two pale wing bars.
The Common Rosefinch is a very active bird; they like to eat seeds from weeds and grasses and insects such as aphids, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, flies, and spiders during the breeding season.
Cassin’s Finch can be found in the western United States and parts of Mexico. Many are permanent residents, while others, generally non-breeding birds, will migrate from the U.S. to Mexico.
The Cassin’s Finch is a small brownish-gray bird with a red head, back, rump, and breast. They are similar to the purple Finch but have a longer, straight-edged bill and less distinct facial markings.
It has been studied extensively for its song-learning abilities – studies have shown that some of these birds can learn up to 100 songs and mimic other birds.
House finches are small finches found throughout most of the United States. They are permanent residents, although those most northern will migrate south.
Their diet mainly consists of seeds, berries, and grains. They can often be found on bird feeders because they love to eat sunflower seeds. House finches will often steal nesting materials from birds like bluebirds or robins and take over abandoned nests.
The male is usually more brightly colored than the female and has a longer tail. Males have reddish heads, necks, and shoulders, with the most deeply red males attracting the most females. They have brown and gray wing and tail feathers.
The purple Finch is a sparrow-sized bird that you can find throughout most of Canada, the west coast of the U.S., and most eastern states.
The red can identify them on their heads, breasts, back, and rump. They have a white line above the eye and a forked brown tail. This coloration distinguishes it from other similar species in size and shape, such as the house finch.
The vermillion flycatcher is a small, attractive bird. Its bright scarlet red head and breast with black eye mask make it easy to spot and identify in the wild. They are found in the southwest United States and down to Central America. Some have been spotted on the west coast of Canada.
They are often found near the outskirts of forests and agricultural and shrub areas, where they can be seen flying over open spaces. These birds like to build their nests in trees or shrubs near water sources, so they have plenty of food nearby.
They can often be spotted darting from tree to tree to eat insects, feeding on flies, beetles, and grasshoppers.
The European goldfinch is a small, colorful bird introduced to North America. They can also be found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. These birds are active during the day, and their diet consists of seeds such as thistle, dandelion, mullein, and ragweed. They have many predators, including hawks, owls, snakes, and squirrels.
The European Goldfinch is a small bird with an average length of about 5 inches and a wingspan of 9.8 inches. They have deep yellow, white, and black feathers that make them very distinct in color from other birds like the house finch or the American Goldfinch, which are mainly brown and red, respectively.
The male of the species is more colorful than the female with glossy green wings and yellow underparts, while females are a drab brown on top with paler undersides. Males have red faces with black markings around their eyes.
The pine grosbeak is a medium-sized, beautiful songbird that resides around the Great Lakes and New England. They can be found throughout Canada and in Alaska. They are residents, although they will fly south in extreme cold. The bird can be seen year-round and has various colors on its feathers to give it the perfect camouflage for any environment.
The pine grosbeak is a beautiful bird with an extensive range of habitat and food sources. They can be found in both the northern and southern parts of the North American continent. These birds are known for their rose-red head, back, and rump. They have black wings with white wing bars. Females are drabber with olive on the head and rump and grey underneath.
The rose-breasted grosbeak is a beautiful bird that lives in the Eastern United States and Canada. They winter in Mexico and Central America before returning. This species’ male has a bright red chest and black head, while females are primarily brown with pinkish-white underparts.
They are medium-sized songbirds that can be found in deciduous forests and woodlands. They can also be seen in parks and gardens and prefer habitats with a few trees.
The pyrrhuloxia is a colorful bird endemic to the southwest United States and Mexico. While it was first discovered in the 18th century, people saw these birds for centuries before officially documented.
The Pyrrhuloxia is a small, brightly colored, active bird with a curved bill that it uses to feed on insects, lizards, spiders, and other invertebrates. The male pyrrhuloxia has red feathers on its face and crest with an orange bill, while the female is more brownish-gray.
Their name comes from Greek terms for their coloration and the shape of their bill. They can be mistaken for the northern cardinal and the vermillion cardinal.
Redpolls are one of the favorite birds on this list. They are a small member of the finch family with red patches on their forehead, and males have a pale red breast.
Common redpolls are energetic and can be seen zipping around feeding on catkins and are frequent visitors to bird feeders. They mainly eat seeds from birch, juniper, oak, and pine trees. If you want to attract common redpolls, then nyjer seed should be on your bird table. They live in boreal forests and arctic tundra, and in cold winters, they can be found in the southern United States.
The Hoary Redpoll is also known as the Arctic redpoll. They spend their winter in Canada and Alaska’s northern reaches before migrating south to breed in the boreal forests and tundra of Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern United States. This bird species is most often seen during migration when it stops over on Arctic tundra or taiga regions for feeding.
Hoary Redpolls are one of the most beautiful birds you can hope to see during the winter months. Their striking red breast and white belly make them easily confused with the common redpoll. However, unlike the common redpoll, the arctic redpoll is paler and has an unstreaked rump.
The black rosy-finch is quite tricky to spot in North America, and not much is known about them. Their habitat is why they live around alpine rocks and build their nests in cliff cavities. They live in the west in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
The black rosy-finch gets its name from its overall black color with a pink belly and wings. They have a gray crown. Non-breeding birds are not black but dark brown. They are about 6 inches long from head to tail and weigh around 22 grams.
The brown-capped rosy-finch can only be found in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They nest in shaded cliffs and crevices of mountain ranges before flying to lower elevations for the winter. The brown-capped rosy-finch has shorter bills than other rosy-finches, which they use to feed on seeds, berries, and insects.
Brown-capped rosy-finches use their chestnut-colored feathers to attract mates by fluffing their feathers to show off their red undercoats. The brown-capped rosy-finch is named after its distinctive milk-chocolate brown cap. Males will often defend their territory by singing and chasing other males away from their mate or nesting area.
The gray-crowned rosy-finch is challenging to spot, again due to their habitat. They live in rocky, remote alpine habitats and are found primarily on the west coast of North America and from Alaska to California. There are six subspecies of Gray-crowned rosy Finch on the continent. Some will migrate south in winter, while others are residents.
The gray-crowned rosy Finch is a medium-large finch with a notched wing and tail giving them their distinctive appearance. It also has a long bill that helps them find food by probing under leaves or other vegetation for insects, seeds, and berries. This makes them an essential part of the ecosystem because their diet consists primarily of invertebrates such as small insects like grasshoppers or beetles that many animals rely on as a food source.
This species has a distinctive appearance with pinkish-red underparts and brown back and breast. They have a gray head with a black forehead and throat.
The flame-colored tanager is a medium-sized bird with the largest populations in Central America and South America. The birds are primarily found in tropical rainforests, but they have been spotted north in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
They have an extensive range of color morphs, including bright reds and oranges. A tanager with a colorful red chest and head, this little bird has been known to attract tourists’ attention due to its beauty. They are now classified in the cardinal family.
The flame-colored tanager inhabits humid forests with dense undergrowth. It is primarily found in the canopy of forests, but you can also see them along riverbanks and edges of the forest.
It feeds on insects and fruit, especially figs, making this bird a keystone species in its habitat due to its effect on the ecosystem’s balance of plant growth.
The hepatic tanager is a beautiful bird with fantastic plumage. The word Hepatic comes from the Ancient Greek word “hepar,” which means liver or spleen of an animal. They have a yellowish hue to their feathers on their underparts, giving them a liver-like appearance. The brightest color shines through on the throat and forehead. They have gray flanks and a dark streak around the eye. Only the males are red, with females being yellow.
The Hepatic Tanager is a bird that lives in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and down into Mexico and Central America. They are very active in their habitat and can be found around ponds or streams, often hopping around on the ground or climbing through trees.
The scarlet tanager is a stunning bird found all over eastern North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. They are classified as cardinals. You may see this bird on a list of yellow birds and this list. Females are olive-yellow, while males are bright crimson-red with black wings and tails.
The Scarlet Tanager is a medium-sized bird that lives in forests and woodlands. It breeds from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic coast, west to Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota. They can often be seen in suburban areas and at backyard birdfeeders.
A member of the cardinal family, the summer tanager, is a medium-sized bird measuring around 7 inches in length. It lives primarily in the southeastern United States, Mexico and South America. The summer tanager has rose-red plumage all over. The vibrant colors help them attract mates during the mating season.
They live in wooded areas where they can be seen foraging in trees. Their diet consists mainly of flying insects such as bees and wasps. They will also eat berries and fruit. The summer tanager can often be seen feeding at bird feeders.
The elegant trogon is a small bird that lives in Central and South America’s tropical rainforests but can also be found in Texas and Arizona. It is sometimes called a ‘flying jewel’ because of its bright, colorful feathers.
The elegant trogon can be seen perched on branches or high up in the trees where it can look like a leaf, making them hard to spot for those who are not aware of their existence. The elegant trogon’s feathers are iridescent and beautiful, with colors ranging from green to red.
They have long tails that they use as stabilizers when they walk around on tree limbs looking for insects or fruit to eat. Their long tail also comes in handy when flying between trees because it helps them steer and control their flight pattern while searching out prey or escaping predators such as birds of prey, snakes, large cats, and other small mammals.
The red-faced warbler is a small songbird that lives in North America. They are small, but they have an impressive voice with loud, high-pitched calls. Their feathers will rise to form a ruff around their neck and head when they sing. The red-faced warbler has bright red patches on its face, neck, and upper breast, with light gray wings and a paler underside.
The red-faced warbler, also known as the American redstart, is a small songbird that migrates from Arizona and New Mexico down to Central America. They can be found in mountainous forests up to 3,000 meters.
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Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.