Types of Red Birds

Written by Dana Mayor
Updated: September 29, 2022
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Key Points

  • There are several bird species fully or partially covered with feathers  in varying shades of red.
  • Quite frequently males often have vividly colored plumage compared to females whose feathers may take on a more subdued hue.
  • Some birds have distinguishing features such as beaks specialized for eating seeds.

Red birds are found throughout the world, in all types of habitats. They can be found in dry prairie lands or deep in pine forests. Some species of birds have both females and males with these brightly colored feathers. For most species of red birds, however, the male is brightly colored while the female is more sedate.

The range of red found on these birds runs from bright and vibrant to rust. Some birds are red all over, while others have black or other dark-colored wings, tails, or other points. Some species of red birds remain red all year long, while others molt to a more subdued shade after the breeding season.

1. Northern Cardinal

Northern cardinal males have a much more red body than females.

©Cathy Keifer/Shutterstock.com

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One of the most common red birds in North America, the Northern Cardinal is instantly recognizable once you have seen one before. The males are known for their majestic red plumage. While the females are a more sedate brown, they do have red accents on their bodies. Both the males and females have a sharp crest that gives them an easily recognized profile.

The Northern Cardinal doesn’t migrate, making it a fixture at bird feeders all year long. When away from the bird feeder, these birds prefer to hang out in dense brush and undergrowth.

2. Red Crossbill

The red crossbill has a very unique beak, which allows it to open sources of food easily.


A member of the finch family, this red bird’s most distinctive feature is its unique beak. The upper and lower portion of the beak overlap, or cross, which is where it gets its name. This crossed bill allows it to open unopened spruce, hemlock, pine, and Douglas-fir cones and eat the seeds. The Red Crossbill’s ability to open cones before they open on their own allows them to access food unavailable to other animals when rations are low.

These birds love the forest although they may also descend on urban areas, and domestic gardens.

They are very fond of salt in addition to the conifers and pine seeds that they love.

The male red crossbill is a dutiful spouse and father and provides for his wife and newly hatched chicks. 

Their mother also joins him after a while to feed their offspring  until the chicks  leave home about three weeks after they’ve hatched.

3. White-Winged Crossbill

The white-winged crossbill is a more rosy color, with black wings and tail.


Another crossbill, the White-Winged Crossbill male is a rosy shade of red, with a black tail and wings. They also have white wing bars. The females of the species, as well as the young males, have the same tail and wing pattern, however, their bodies are yellow.

The birds live in flocks all year, even during mating season. They prefer living in coniferous forests, where they have an abundant food supply. In particularly lean years, they will range far outside their normal territory in search of food.

4. Vermilion Flycatcher

The male vermilion flycatcher is vibrant red while the female is much less vibrant.


The male of this compact, stocky bird is bright red with black wings and back. The black extends in a line across his face, covering the eyes and giving him the appearance of wearing a mask. Like many species, the female Vermilion Flycatcher is not as vibrant. She has a white breast, darkening to a reddish tan undertail. Her upper body is brown.

The Vermilion Flycatcher spends its day perched on fence posts or other exposed spots. When an insect flies by, they quickly leave their post and catch their unsuspecting prey in mid-air before returning to their hunting spot.

5.Pine Grosbeak

The male pine grosbeak is pinkish-red, while the female is yellow.


Pine Grosbeaks are yet another of the red birds that are a member of the finch family. Its stubby bill separates it from other members of the group. They are one of the larger members of the finch family.

The body of the male Pine Grosbeak is pinkish-red, while the female has a yellow body. Both males and females have grey wings. The grey may extend onto the breast or underbody as well. Their thick bills are designed for easy access to seeds, and they generally reside in pine, spruce, or fir forests, although they will visit backyard feeders, particularly in cold weather.

6. Scarlet Tanager

Male scarlet tanagers have very distinctive black wings and tails.


A true red bird, the Scarlet Tanager is an eye-catching species. The males of the species are vibrant red, while the females are a muddy yellow. While the males have distinctive black wings and tails, the females’ wings and tails are just slightly darker than their bodies.

Primarily dining on insects, the Scarlet Tanager adds fruit to its diet during migration and the winter. They make their homes in deciduous and pine forests.

7. Hepatic Tanager

Like the scarlet tanager, the male of this species is red and the female is yellow.


The male Hepatic Tanager is solid red, while the female is yellow. They make their homes in pine-oak and pine forests in the southernmost portion of the western United States and Central and South America.

One interesting fact about the tanagers located in North America, which include the Hepatic, Western, Scarlet, and Summer Tanager, is that they are in the same family as the northern cardinal. There are over 300 species of tanagers in South and Central America who are not related to these birds.

8. Summer Tanager

This vibrant red bird has a beautiful voice.


The adult male Summer Tanager is vibrant red while the female is yellow. These compact, stocky birds have thick, blunt bills they use to capture insects mid-flight and browse for seeds. They have a beautiful voice that carries easily from their preferred spot high in a tree.

9. Cinnamon Teal

Although both the male and female of the cinnamon teal are brown, the male has a reddish tint.

©Michael Chatt/Shutterstock.com

The Cinnamon Teal is a water bird, making its home along freshwater wetlands. The male is brownish red with a black back and tail feathers and distinctive red eyes. The female is brown with dark eyes. Both males and females have sky blue marking visible when they spread their wings.

Smaller than many other ducks, the Cinnamon Teal has a long bill and large head for its body size. They spend the warm weather months in the western areas of North America and winter in Central and South America.


1Northern Cardinal
2Red Crossbill
3White-Winged Crossbill
4Vermilion Flycatcher
5Pine Grosbeak
6Scarlet Tanager
7Hepatic Tanager
8Summer Tanager
9Cinnamon Teal

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Keep reading these posts for more incredible information about key animal facts.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/SteveByland

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About the Author

I love good books and the occasional cartoon. I am also endlessly intrigued with the beauty of nature and find hummingbirds, puppies, and marine wildlife to be the most magical creatures of all.

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