Black and White Bird with Red Head: 18 Species It Might Be

Written by Lev Baker
Updated: November 17, 2023
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If you love bird watching, you might have seen a variety of different birds that are black and white with red heads. But you might be surprised to learn that there is a huge range of birds that look like this! A simple Google search will bring up so many black and white birds with red heads that it might be difficult to pinpoint exactly which one you saw!

But don’t worry. There are some easy ways to identify different bird species that come in this color pattern. From size to extra patterning, there are many different ways to tell these birds apart. So, let’s go over the 18 species of black and white birds with red heads that you might come across during your bird-watching adventures!

1. Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Red-bellied woodpecker enjoying a meal.

The red-bellied woodpecker is a black and white bird with a red head.

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©Connie Moore/Shutterstock.com

If you’re on the eastern side of North America, you may have come across a red-bellied woodpecker. To identify this bird, you will want to look for their distinctive black and white-barred back. Notably, male red-bellied woodpeckers have a distinctive red head, which extends to the back of their neck. Their bellies are an off-white color with a slight red tinge. Female woodpeckers of this species look very similar to the males, minus the red hind neck. Both sexes are about 9 to 10 inches long and have a wingspan of about 13 to 18 inches.

2. Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Red-headed Woodpecker perches on a tree.

The red-headed woodpecker has a distinctive appearance, thanks to its bright red head.

©Benjamin King/Shutterstock.com

Another black and white woodpecker species with a red head is the red-headed woodpecker. Similarly, this woodpecker is also found in North America across southern Canada and the east-central United States. The red-headed woodpecker has a very distinctive appearance. It has a red head, neck, and upper breast. As for the rest of its body, it has a white lower chest and stomach, and a black back, wings, and tail. It also has a white patch on its back and tail. It also has black eyes. A fully-grown red-headed woodpecker will be around 7 to 9 inches long, with a wingspan of 14 to 17 inches.

3. Red-Crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronate)

red-crested cardinal

A beautiful bird, the red-crested cardinal is mostly black and white but has a distinctive red head.

©რობერტ (Robert), CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Another black and white bird with a bright red head is the red-crested cardinal. Native to South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, this beautiful bird has also been introduced to Hawaii. This cardinal has a distinctive, bright red head. Its breast, belly, and undertail are white, but the bird has a blue-gray back and black-tipped wings. Interestingly, red-crested cardinal juveniles lack that signature red head. Instead, they have a brown head. Red-crested cardinals will generally grow up to 7.5 inches long.

4. Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)

pine grosbeak perched with back to camera

While females of this species may be mostly yellow-green, male pine grosbeaks have a signature red, black, and white plumage.

©iStock.com/aseppa

The pine grosbeak is a bird commonly found in the northernmost parts of North America, including Alaska and Canada. A medium-sized bird growing up to 8 to 10 inches long, the pine grosbeak boasts a wingspan of 12 to 13 inches. You can easily identify males of this species by their rounded shape, rose-red head, and reddish feathers on their back and breast. The wings are gray, black, and white. On the other hand, female pine grosbeaks have a golden-yellow head and body.

5. California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Condor

While certainly not the most beautiful bird in the world, the California condor also matches the description of a black and white bird with a red head.

©pjsells/iStock via Getty Images

The California condor is one of the heaviest birds in North America, weighing up to 26 pounds or 12 kilos. This huge bird also boasts a wingspan of an incredible 10 feet. While the California condor is most commonly found in California, this bird can also be found in Arizona, Utah, and even Mexico. Thanks to its gargantuan size, the California condor is probably one of the easiest birds to recognize. The adults of this species are all black with white patches under the wings. Notably, their heads are completely bare with a pinkish tinge. Conversely, juveniles have darker heads and gray necks and patches under their wings.

6. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

A closeup of a hairy woodpecker from the back.

While the red of the hairy woodpecker’s head may not be as prominent as other birds, the hairy woodpecker is also a beautiful bird.

©Carl Reader/Shutterstock.com

Yet another black and white woodpecker with a red head is the hairy woodpecker, a resident of North America. A medium-sized woodpecker, the hairy woodpecker is around 7 to 10 inches long, with a wingspan of about 15 inches. This woodpecker boasts a square-shaped head, a long bill, and stiff, long tail feathers. Interestingly, its bill is as long as the head itself! In terms of color, the hairy woodpecker has a white belly along with a black back, wings, and tails. The back features one white patch in the middle, while the wings have white checkered spots. The hairy woodpecker’s black head has two white stripes on the side. Notably, the males sport a bright red patch on the back of the head.

7. Red-Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)

Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) Portrait

The red-breasted sapsucker has a red head that extends all the way down its breast.

©BirdManClark/Shutterstock.com

Found across North America, the red-breasted sapsucker is another black and white bird with a red head. As you might be able to guess from its name, this bird drills round holes in trees to access the sap to feed on. Both sexes of this species have that signature red breast and head and a black and white-streaked belly. The back of this bird is mottled black and white, which makes their plumage quite distinctive and beautiful. The black wings of the red-breasted sapsucker feature a large vertical white patch.

8. Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta)

Scarlet Honeyeater male feeding on Grevillia nectar

An Australian black and white bird with a red head is the scarlet honeyeater.

©Silva Vaughan-Jones/Shutterstock.com

While we’ve covered North and South American birds, if you live in Australia and you’ve come across a black and white bird with a red head, it may very well be a scarlet honeyeater. Also known as the scarlet myzomela in some regions of the world, scarlet honeyeaters have a distinctive and beautiful look. As with many other bird species, females and males have different plumage. The adult male scarlet honeyeater has that vivid scarlet red head, which bleeds down to their chest and back. The rest of the bird’s belly is white in color, while the back, wings, and tail are black. Females and juvenile scarlet honeyeaters, on the other hand, are mostly brown with a whitish belly and a splash of red on the chin. Both sexes have short tails and a strongly curved bill. These honeyeaters are relatively small, growing up to just 3.5 to 4.5 inches long.

9. Scarlet Honeycreeper (Drepanis coccinea)

The ʻiʻiwi (Drepanis coccinea, pronounced /iːˈiːviː/, ee-EE-vee), or scarlet honeycreeper is a "hummingbird-niched" species of Hawaiian honeycreeper

An interesting-looking bird, the scarlet honeycreeper, or ‘I’iwi, is mostly red with black and white.

©Thomas Chlebecek/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the ‘I’iwi, the scarlet honeycreeper closely matches the description of a black and white bird with a red head. This bird lives in Hawaii and is notably one of the more abundant native bird species of the islands. While this bird may appear mostly red at first glance, adult scarlet honeycreepers actually also have black and white coloring. Specifically, these birds boast that signature bright scarlet head, with the color bleeding down their back and belly, too. Furthermore, ‘I’iwis have black wings with white spots that contrast the scarlet red. Another distinguishing feature of these birds is their curved bill.

10. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Yellow-belly sapsucker

Boasting a thick, straight bill and forked tail, the yellow-bellied sapsucker is found in North and Central America.

©Dennis W. Donohue /Shutterstock.com

The yellow-bellied sapsucker can be found in North America and Central America and prefers to live in conifer and hardwood forests. This bird has a straight bill and a forked tail, and their plumage is a beautiful mix of colors. Adult males have a black and white striped face with a red throat, forehead, and crown. They also have vertical white patches all over the rest of the body, including on the back, belly, and wings. Females look almost identical to the males, except they have a white throat and a paler crown. Juveniles, on the other hand, lack that bold red marking on their head. In terms of size, the yellow-bellied sapsucker can measure anywhere between 7 to 8.5 inches long.

11. Flame-Colored Tanager (Piranga bidentata)

Flame-colored Tanager

The flame-colored tanager can sometimes be found in the southwestern United States, boasting its bright red plumage.

©Tyler Wenzel/Shutterstock.com

A resident of Mexico and Central America, the flame-colored tanager is also a rare visitor to the southwestern United States, particularly after breeding. Male flame-colored tanagers have a bright red-orange head with gray-black wings and white spots. Their black tail also boasts streaks of white. Females, on the other hand, are olive-green in color and have a yellow belly along with gray-black wings with white streaks.

12. White-Winged Tanager (Piranga leucoptera)

White-winged tanager (Piranga leucoptera) and green branches and leaves, Botanical Garden, Vienna, Austria

The white-winged tanager is a Central and South American bird that has a red head.

©Hivaka/Shutterstock.com

Calling Central and South America home, the white-winged tanager is another bird that comes to mind that matches the description of a black and white bird with a red head. Approximately 5 inches long, the male of this species is mostly red in color, but it does boast black wings with white wing bars. The tail of the white-winged tanager is mostly black in color, too. Conversely, females are yellow and green, instead of red. A notable feature of the white-winged tanager is the black mask this bird has around its eyes.

13. Red-Headed Finch (Amadina erythrocephala)

The red-headed finch (Amadina erythrocephala) (also known as the paradise finch) is a common species of estrildid finch found in Africa.

Also known as the paradise finch, the red-headed finch has a red head and a scalloped gray, black, and white patterning.

©Edwin Godinho/Shutterstock.com

The red-headed finch is generally 6 to 7 inches long and is another black and white bird with a red head. This finch is native to Africa and is one of the most colorful birds in the savannah, thanks to its bright red head. The red-headed finch male boasts this colorful red head and throat, and the rest of the body has a scalloped gray-black and white patterning, making it look almost spotted. The female of this species is entirely gray-brown in color.

14. Red-Capped Cardinal (Paroaria gularis)

red-capped cardinal

The red-capped cardinal notably has some black encircling its eyes, which makes its red head coloring stand out.

©Hectonichus, CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Flying around South America, the red-capped cardinal is most common in wooded areas. Of course, the most distinctive feature of this bird is its scarlet red head. Interestingly, its eyes are circled by a striking black color, which makes the red stand out all the more. The body of the red-capped cardinal is black in color with some white streaks and a white belly. The throat of this bird is black in color as well. Juvenile red-capped cardinals look very similar to the adults, but the head is more of a brownish color than red. In terms of size, this South American bird is roughly 6 to 7 inches long.

15. Masked Cardinal (Paroaria nigrogenis)

Masked cardinal

The masked cardinal also has a crimson red head with a black eye mask, but it is ever so slightly different from the red-capped cardinal.

©iStock.com/Santimanitay

At first glance, the masked cardinal looks very similar to the red-capped cardinal. Found in Venezuela and Colombia, the masked cardinal has a crimson red and a black eye mask, much like its red-capped cousin. However, the masked cardinal differs from the red-capped cardinal in that it has black ear-coverts and a red lower throat, instead of a black lower throat. This bird also has black wings and a white belly.

16. Red-Faced Warbler (Cardellina rubrifrons)

Red-faced warbler sitting on a perch

A relatively small bird, the red-faced warbler has a red face and throat.

©Griffin Gillespie/Shutterstock.com

The red-faced warbler is commonly found in the forested areas of Mexico and Arizona. You’ll mostly find this bird foraging amongst the branches pretty high up in the trees, but interestingly, it nests on the ground. The females and males of the red-faced warbler are similar in color, with both boasting red faces and throats. The rest of the bird is mostly grayish brown with streaks of black and white. The red-faced warbler is a relatively small bird, measuring just 5.5 inches long.

17. Two-Barred Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera)

white-winged crossbill perched on the end of a hollow piece of wood

The two-barred crossbill is pinkish-red in color and has a black and white tail and wings.

©iStock.com/tkosachev

Also called the white-winged crossbill, the two-barred crossbill is a small songbird that lives in Europe and North America. Measuring around 5.5 to 7 inches long, this bird has a very distinctive crossed bill. The males of this species have a raspberry-red forehead, crown, and nape. Their wings are black with white bars, and their tail is black with white fringes. The female two-barred crossbills lack the red color and have a green-yellow head instead.

18. Acorn Woodpecker (elanerpes formicivorus)

Acorn Woodpecker on tree branch against green background

The acorn woodpecker is mostly black in color but boasts a red head, white streaks, and a white belly.

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

The habitat of the acorn woodpecker extends from Oregon and California all the way south to Central America and Colombia. As you might be able to guess from its name, this bird is known for its dependency on acorns for food. In terms of appearance, the acorn woodpecker is mostly black in color with white streaks on its wings and a mostly white belly. While its head is also mostly black, the acorn woodpecker notably has a bright red cap and yellow eyes.

Summary of Black and White Birds with Red Head

NumberBirdScientific Name
1.Red-Bellied WoodpeckerMelanerpes carolinus
2.Red-Headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus
3.Red-Crested CardinalParoaria coronate
4.Pine GrosbeakPinicola enucleator
5.California CondorGymnogyps californianus
6.Hairy WoodpeckerLeuconotopicus villosus
7.Red-Breasted SapsuckerSphyrapicus ruber
8.Scarlet HoneyeaterMyzomela sanguinolenta
9.Scarlet HoneycreeperDrepanis coccinea
10.Yellow-Bellied SapsuckerSphyrapicus varius
11.Flame-Colored TanagerPiranga bidentata
12.White-Winged TanagerPiranga leucoptera
13.Red-Headed FinchAmadina erythrocephala
14.Red-Capped Cardinal Paroaria gularis
15.Masked CardinalParoaria nigrogenis
16.Red-Faced WarblerCardellina rubrifrons
17.Two-Barred CrossbillLoxia leucoptera
18.Acorn WoodpeckerElanerpes formicivorus

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Benjamin King/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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