8 Birds With Red Chests

Written by Patrick Sather
Published: November 6, 2021
Image Credit iStock.com/mirceax
Share this post on:

Birds come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and colors. Big or small, long or short, bright or dull, birds are as varied as they are numerous. Some birds grow bright feathers in shades of blue, green, purple, or pink. People often recognize the most colorful birds based upon their plumages, such as the flamingo or the scarlet macaw. That said, birds often rely on these colorful feathers to recognize each other. Plumage differs between species, which helps birds to spot members of their same species. In addition, males and females often look different so they can identify each other. Among the many species of birds out there, you can find a certain group of birds that share a trait in common. These birds with red chests sport bright red plumage on their front. Can you name some birds with red chests? 

If not, no need to worry, because we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll cover 8 different birds with red chests. We’ll examine where these birds live and some of their common behaviors. We’ll also explain how you can distinguish them from other birds with red chests. Without further ado, let’s explore the world of birds with red chests. 

#8: Scarlet Robin

Birds with red chests: Scarlet Robin
Male scarlet robins feature scarlet feathers on their chests.

iStock.com/phototrip

6,434 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

The scarlet robin is a small songbird in the family Petroicidae. Like members of its family, the scarlet robin is confined to Australasia. Scarlet robins live near the coasts of southern Australia and throughout Tasmania. They typically prefer to build their nests in eucalyptus forests, but you can also find them in scrublands and urban areas. Scarlet robins range in size from 4.7 to 5.3 inches long and feature large, bulbous heads. For their diet, they primarily live on insects and spiders, which they catch on the ground. Known to act highly territorial, scarlet robins will fiercely protect their nests from other birds and fellow robins. Their name comes from the plumage of the males, as these birds with red chests feature scarlet-colored breasts. As for the rest of their plumage, their heads, backs, and tails appear black, while their bellies, foreheads, and underparts look white. 

#7: Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak sitting on a tree stump, singing.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks are also known as cut-throats due to the v-shaped red patch on their chests.

Mark W. Holdren/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the cut-throat, the rose-breasted grosbeak is a member of the cardinal family Cardinalidae. During summer, they range throughout southern Canada and the eastern United States. Meanwhile, they overwinter in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. You can most often find rose-breasted grosbeaks living in open woodland areas such as forests, parks, or gardens. Typically, they measure between 7.1 to 8.7 inches long with a wingspan from 11 to 13 inches. Their diet primarily consists of insects, which they catch in flight, although they also eat seeds and berries. Compared to most songbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks can live quite long, with the oldest known specimen living to 24 years old. They get their common name and nickname from the v-shaped, rose-red path on the males’ chests. Males also feature black heads, backs, tails, and wings, while their bellies appear white. 

#6: Painted Redstart

Birds with red chests: Painted Redstart
Painted redstarts’ red chests stand in stark contrast to their black and white plumage.

Frode Jacobsen/Shutterstock.com

Sometimes called the painted whitestart, the painted redstart is a member of the New World warbler family Parulidae. Most painted redstarts live in mountainous regions of inland Central America, particularly near streams and forested canyons. Compared to most warblers, they measure quite large, with the average specimen measuring between 5.1 to 5.9 inches long. While hunting, they hop along branches and spread their wings and tails to flush out insects. Unlike most songbirds, these birds nest on the ground, and both males and females frequently sing songs, particularly during courtship. In additionally rare fashion, both females and males feature the same plumage. Their backs, heads, tails, and wings appear glossy black, with white strips on the wings. Meanwhile, their bellies look bright scarlet, which stands out in stark contrast to the rest of their bodies. The name “painted” truly fits these birds with red chests. 

#5: Vermilion Flycatcher

vermilion flycatcher perched on small branch
Male vermilion flycatchers feature both a bright red chest and crown.

iStock.com/jsdeoliv

The vermilion flycatcher belongs to the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae, and is a striking example among birds with red chests. Vermilion flycatchers live year-round in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and northwestern regions of South America. On average, they measure 5.1 to 5.5 inches long, and the males sport a spiky crown. Like other flycatchers, they hunt for insects in midair and feed predominantly on flies, grasshoppers, beetles, and bees. They tend to live solitary lives, and will only rarely gather in small groups of a few individuals outside of the breeding season. The other half of their name refers to the bright vermilion plumage worn by the males of the species. Males feature red crowns, necks, chests, and underparts, while their backs and wings appear brownish-gray. On the other hand, the females lack red feathers and look rather nondescript, which makes them hard to identify. 

#4: Red-Breasted Sapsucker

Birds with red chests: Red-Breasted Sapsucker
Red-breasted sapsuckers get their name form their red chests and habit of sucking the sap from trees.

iStock.com/jamesvancouver

The red-breasted sapsucker belongs to the sapsucker genus Sphyrapicus, which is part of the woodpecker family Picidae. These birds with red chests live in forests along the west coast of Canada, the United States, and Baja California. As their name implies, sapsuckers drill holes in old-growth trees in order to feast on the sap inside. After drilling a hole, they use their long, hairy tongues to lap up the sap inside. In addition, they dine on seeds, berries, and the insects drawn to the sap holes they create with their beaks. They also drum their beaks to create sounds that they use to mark their territory and attract mates. As their name implies, male red-breasted sapsuckers feature a red chest and also a red head. Meanwhile, the remainder of their plumage appears black on the back and white on the belly and underparts. 

#3: Pyrrhuloxia

Birds that look like cardinals: Pyyrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxias are birds with red chests that often get confused for northern cardinals.

iStock.com/Dee Carpenter Photography

The pyrrhuloxia is a member of the cardinal family Cardinalidae and another entry on our list of birds with red chests. These birds that look like cardinals often get confused for the northern cardinal, hence its nickname the “desert cardinal.” They are distributed throughout arid regions of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and  Mexico. Their preferred habitats include dense scrublands as well as mesquite thickets. Most pyrrhuloxias measure around 8.3 inches long and feature short, stout beaks and tall crests. Pyrrhuloxias use their strong beaks to eat seeds and fruits, although they also eat a wide variety of insects. In fact, cotton farmers love pyrrhuloxias, as they frequently eat pests that feed on cotton plants such as weevils. The plumage of the males appears mostly gray-brown. That said, their crests, faces, and breasts look dark red and they also feature red streaks on their tails and wings. 

#2: Painted Bunting

Birds with red chests: Painted Bunting
Painted buntings are one of the most colorful songbirds in North America and feature bright red chests.

iStock.com/passion4nature

The painted bunting is another one of the birds with red chests and one of the most colorful songbirds in North America. During summer, they breed in woodlands and thickets near water in the eastern and southern United States. In winter, they migrate to the borders of tropical forests in southern Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Generally, they measure 4.7 to 5.5 inches long with a wingspan between 8.3 to 9.1 inches. While feeding, they hop along the ground eating seeds and insects like spiders, snails, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. After they turn 1, males develop bright plumage including a blue head, green back, and red chest and underparts. While normally shy and secretive, male painted buntings can act quite aggressive, and may even kill each other during fights. While the IUCN lists them as a species of Least Concern, their numbers are in decline. 

#1: American Robin

American robin perched on a branch
The male American robin is one of the most recognizable birds with red chests.

iStock.com/PhotosByMSA

Of all the birds with red chests, the American robin is arguably the most recognizable. A member of the thrush family Turdidae, it is one of the most common birds in North America. Depending on the time of year, they range throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Their preferred habitats include open woodlands, cultivated landscapes like farmland and parks, and urban areas. These birds that lay blue eggs eat a diet of mostly fruits and berries, but also eat a significant amount of insects. Most robins measure 9.1 to 11 inches long and sport a wingspan between 12 to 16 inches. Males feature a gray-black head, gray-brown back and wings, and red chest and underparts. Due to its widespread distribution and penchant for singing, it is often featured in songs, books, and films, and is part of both traditional and modern stories and legends. 

American robin flying from the tree
American robin flying from the tree
iStock.com/mirceax
Share this post on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.