25 Birds With Red Heads – Identification with Photos

Whenever we see a bird with a redhead, we wonder what the name of the species is. We definitely want to be able to recognize the bird and this is not really difficult at all. The only problem is the number of birds that have redheads. With so many of them, how do we even begin identifying the different types?

25 Birds with Red Heads:

  1. Northern Cardinal (35%)
  2. House Finch (23.8%)
  3. Downy Woodpecker (23.6%)
  4. Red-bellied Woodpecker (21.2%)
  5. Barn Swallow (11.1%)
  6. Hairy Woodpecker (8%)
  7. Pileated Woodpecker (6.3%)
  8. Anna’s Hummingbird (5.8%)
  9. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (5.4%)
  10. Palm Warbler (3.5%)
  11. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (3%)
  12. Purple Finch (2.9%)
  13. Scarlet Tanager (2.3%)
  14. Acorn Woodpecker (2%)
  15. Red-headed Woodpecker (2%)
  16. Redhead (1.9%)
  17. Summer Tanager (1.7%)
  18. Western Tanager (1.5%)
  19. Vermilion Flycatcher (0.7%)
  20. Red Crossbill (0.6%)
  21. Cassin’s Finch (0.5%)
  22. Red-breasted Sapsucker (0.5%)
  23. Common Redpoll (0.5%)
  24. Pyrrhuloxia (0.4%)
  25. Pine Grosbeak (0.2%)

This list gives us the names of the birds with red on their heads or throats. These are the birds that are regularly spotted.

How was this list made? Well, about 500 birds that had the color red on any part of their heads were compared with the entire 1000 species of birds that were spotted in North America. This process resulted in the list that gives us the most regularly spotted 25 bird types. The percentage in the brackets is an indication of how frequently these birds were documented in checklists on ebird.org.

These details in this article will help you greatly in identifying these birds with redheads. To help further, there are photos of the birds which have been included.

25 birds with Redheads

Northern Cardinal

The male of this species is a brilliantly red, attractive bird. The predominant color of the bird is red as it has a redhead, body, and tail. There is black surrounding the face and this contrasts with the red. This bird is a sight for sore eyes and this is especially true in winter when the snow provides a white background. The brown females are not less beautiful in any way. They have bright brown crests, red accents, and red beaks.

These birds are commonly found in eastern and southern states. They guard their territories so zealously that they, at times, assault their own reflection during the course of their breeding season.

If you want to entice them to your backyard feeders, use sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

They are easy to feed as they eat comfortably from tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders or even food that is scattered on the ground.

House Finch  

The males and females of the house finch are also different in appearance. The head and breast of the males are colored red while the females have brown streaks. They were found primarily in the Western states alone but were introduced to the eastern states also later. They are actually thriving there also and have even managed to outdo the Purple Finch.

They tend to inhabit parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They are so loud that it is difficult to not pay attention to them.

Luring these birds to backyard feeders is simple. Just use black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders and they will come.

Downy Woodpecker

These little birds are normally found in most states. They are known to frequent backyard feeders.

Males are distinctly different from females as the males have a red patch behind their heads.

They look beautiful with their black and white colors and are frequently confused with birds like chickadees and nuthatches. They bear a lot of resemblance to the Hairy Woodpecker.

Using suet feeders is a good idea to draw these birds to your backyard. However, they also come to eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

If the name prompts you to believe that these birds have bright red bellies, then you are in for a surprise. They have light red bellies which are so mildly colored that they are not easy to distinguish. The head and the nape are colored red. The back is decorated with black and white stripes.

The Eastern states have a lot of these birds. They are heard distinctly in spring and summer and the calls that they make during these seasons are rather loud. They prefer living in woods and forests, particularly in forests with deadwood. This woodpecker is a bird that migrates.

They tend to visit suet feeders. However, they also seem to like feeding on hummingbird feeders.

Barn Swallow

These birds are a riot of attractive colors. Their faces are colored rusty red. The underparts are brown and their backs, wings, and tails are blue.  Most of their breeding happens in North America. After this, during the winter, they migrate to the south.

They look for food in places such as fields and open water and are often seen rushing over these sources of food. Their nests are made of mud and they prefer places such as barns which are man-made for their nests.

They are bound to visit your backyard if you lure them with ground eggshells left on a platform feeder. They will also come if you make appropriate arrangements for their nests. You could do this easily by just leaving an outbuilding or barn door open.

Hairy Woodpecker

These birds are a common sight in almost the whole of North America. They are entirely black and white except for a small red area in their heads.

Though they resemble the Downy Woodpecker to a very large extent, these birds are a tad bigger than the Downy Woodpecker. They are often spotted in huge trees. They are in the habit of tapping the trees and can be heard doing this if you listen intently.

There is a lot of intriguing information about these enchanting birds that are really worth knowing.

If you want to enjoy their beauty by observing them, try using suet feeders and you are sure to have them coming in. This is particularly true in winter.

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated woodpecker is a principally black bird with white stripes. Its crown is a contrasting red. It is commonly found in the Eastern states and along the coast in the northwest.

This is not a very small bird. It is almost as big as a crow. It usually rummages through dead wood in search of carpenter ants. Using suet feeders can help greatly to lure these birds home.

Anna’s Hummingbird

The males of the Anna’s Hummingbird are richly colored and are a sight for sore eyes. Their bodies are chiefly emerald green and they have strikingly rose-pink throats. The females of the species do not have as many colors as the male.

These birds are rather small and are only about the size of a ping-pong ball. They love to eat at hummingbird feeders. They are equally fond of big, colorful blossoms. So planting these is a good idea to entice them in spring.

They are amazingly good at diving and the males of the species dive beautifully, almost vertically in fact. This happens during the breeding season. These birds are usually found along the Pacific Coast.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is chiefly green. The male has a ruby-red throat. However, the females are different as they are not multi-colored like the males.

They normally migrate to the south, but only after they breed in the eastern states.

They often frequent flower gardens or woodland edges and hummingbird feeders. Their food usually comes from flowers that are tubular in shape. For instance, they prefer feeding rom trumpet creepers or cardinal flowers, honeysuckle, jewelweed, bee-balm, red buckeye, and red morning glory. They also like eating insects.

Palm Warbler

This beautiful bird is multi-colored with two different colors on its back and underneath. The color on its back is browny-olive and the rest of the body is yellow. Though their breeding ground is in Canada, they are a common sight in eastern states when they migrate and also all through the year along the south coast and Florida.

Would you like to see these birds? Then, the best time to look for them is the spring and the fall. Look for them in weedy fields, forest edges, and scrubby areas. Very often, they are seen searching for insects to eat from the ground. They do this along with other birds like Sparrows, Juncos, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

As the name itself indicates, these birds are predominantly black and white. A red patch adorns the top of its head and throat. True to its name, the bird has a belly that is pale yellow.

Their breeding areas are in the far north and Canada and winter in the southeast. Their tongues are unique as they have brush-tipped tongues. They use these tongues to make holes that are not very deep on barks of trees. Why do they make these holes? They make these holes to reach the sap that they love to eat. So, these holes are proof that these birds have been there. If you want to attract these birds, it may be possible with suet feeders.

Purple Finch

There are a lot of similarities between the Purple Finch and the House Finch. They also have a reddish-purple on the head and breast. The back and wings look a lot browner.

Their breeding ground is Canada and the eastern states. However, they are a common sight in the northeast and Pacific coast. The best way to lure them is to feed them with black oil sunflower seeds.

Scarlet Tanager

The name indicates the color of these birds. Their heads and bodies are a striking red. In contrast, their wings and tails are black. Their breeding ground is the eastern forests in summer. The destination of their migration in South America.

Catching a glimpse of these birds is not easy as they live high up on tall trees.

They love eating different types of berries such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, juneberries, serviceberries, mulberries, strawberries, and chokeberries.

Acorn Woodpecker

These attractive birds have three colors on them. Their crown stands out as it is a vivid red. Their faces and underbellies are white whereas their faces are white in contrast. There are not too many of them in North America. They are found in very limited areas in the southern states and a few places in the Californian coasts.

They largely populate the western oak woodlands. They hoard thousands of acorns. They safely stash these acorns into holes in trees. These holes are actually made by these birds for the sole purpose of putting in these acorns. There are many things we know about these birds, some of which are interesting and some offensive.

The noisy sounds that they make resemble the squawks of parrots. It is possible to attract them with seed and suet feeders.

Here are some useful photo ID guides:

  • Male vs female hummingbird
  • Male vs female woodpecker
  • Male vs female oriole

Red-headed Woodpecker

From the name, it is not very difficult to figure out that these birds have red-colored heads. Their bodies are entirely white while their wings are a mix of black and white. Throughout the year, they are widely spotted in eastern states and they use these places as their breeding grounds. However, when it is time to migrate, they move from the far northwest during the winter.

Their favorite place is open wood lots. They prefer dead wood that is usually found in swamps or pine savannas. Small holes in the wood, under the barks of trees or roof shingles, prove to be very useful for them as storage places for insects which they eat.

They are highly territorial and protect their territories ferociously. In the process, they even go to the extent of getting rid of puncturing the eggs laid by birds that do not belong to their own species. They will visit places with suet feeders or with fruits.


This bird is a kind of duck that has three different colors that combine to give it a stunning appearance. The head is reddish-brown whereas the breast and tail are black. The whole body is grey.

They are not at all rare and are spotted a lot in all states. During the winter, the populate places in thousands. They seem to prefer the Gulf Coast during this season.

However, they are in a different place in summer. During the hotter season, it is time for them to nest and they do so in the ponds of the Great Plains and the West where there are a lot of reeds.

Summer Tanager

The males and females of this species are stunning though they are colored differently. Both of them have vivid colors with the males being red and the females yellow. Their breeding grounds are the southern and eastern states. For the winter, they head towards Central and South America.

These forest songbirds are spotted often in open woodlands. The way they catch their prey, namely bees and wasps is rather unique. They actually catch their prey in mid-air as they are flying. They hit these bees and wasps against branches and make sure that they remove the stinger before they consume the insects.

If you have berry bushes and fruit trees in your backyard, you are sure to spot them in the trees.

Western Tanager

The heads of these birds are red-tinged with an orange. In contrast, their bodies are yellow while the wings are black. They inhabit the western states. Breeding happens in the north. They then head towards the south during winter.

If you are under the impression that it is very easy to spot such birds that are so vividly colored, then you are mistaken. In addition, they also live in open conifer forests. Still, they are not spotted so quickly because the canopy hides them completely. The reason for the red color is the insects that they eat. These insects produce a pigment that is the reason for the red color. The birds themselves are not able to produce this pigment.

If you want this bird to visit you, you will succeed if you put out the dried fruit, cut oranges and other fruits from bird feeders.

Vermilion Flycatcher

The Vermilion Flycatcher is a predominantly red bird. The vivid red spreads across the crown, throat, and breast. In contrast, the back and the wings are black. There is a beautiful black stripe near the eye.

These birds belong to the desert and can be spotted in such areas throughout the year. They are usually busy catching insects or perching in open places.

Though they are found extensively in the southwest, some of them inhabit the Gulf Coast too.

Get a free photo identification printable for every state.

Red Crossbill

The males of this species have a brick red body. Their wings and tails stand out as they are of a darker color. Though they live in the northern and western states all month of the year, they are found in the eastern states also but only in winter.

Their favorite food is conifer seeds. They tend to move in a flock as they search for food in different trees. They have strong and robust beaks that are capable of breaking cones. They are found in a variety of places such as coniferous forests and also on the roadsides.

Cassin’s Finch

The most dominant color in this multi-colored bird is brown as the whole back and the wings are brown in color. The crown is red and the head and breast are rosy pink. The belly region is white. They inhabit the mountain forests in the western states. Even when they search for their food, namely seeds, they tend to move around in flocks.

It is much easier to bring in this bird’s cousins, the House or Purple Finches to your you can try your luck with a sunflower seed feeder. This idea works better in winter. Shrubs that bear fruit such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape, and apple may also lure this bird to your backyard.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers

These multi-colored birds have heads and breasts that are red. Their backs and wings have two colors – black and white. Their bellies are, however, off-white. They inhabit the Pacific Coast all months of the year. They are chiefly found in coniferous forests.

The holes that these birds make in trees serve more than one purpose. The Red-breasted Sapsuckers first use these holes to get to the sap that they like to drink. After they are done, the hummingbirds use these holes to find their own food. The Red-breasted Sapsucker does not survive only on sap. It also feeds on fruits and insects.

Common Redpoll

The body of this bird is colored with a mix of brown and white. Only the forehead is a bright red while the breasts are pink. During the cold season, they are commonly spotted in northern states. You can also find them in central states but not very often.

They combat the cold in the regions that they live in by burrowing into the snow. This helps them keep cozy and warm the whole of the night. The other amazing traits of these birds are the quantity of food they can eat and store. They can devour about 42 percent of their body mass every single day! If this is surprising, then look at this: they can safely store up to 2 grams of seeds in a special part of their esophagus that is made stretchy to enable this.

They love fields that are full of weeds and are often spotted in such places. They also like to eat catkins on trees. However, they do not limit their food to only these two things. They also eat small seeds from feeders. The ideal seeds to entice them will be nyjer seeds or thistle. 


The male of this species is a colorful bird. The predominant color is grey. They have touches of red on the face and crown. The whole of the breast and the tail are red. They populate the hot deserts in the southwest.

Their behavior during different seasons differs greatly. During the breeding season, they are very possessive about their territory and protect their territory vehemently. However, during winter, this trait disappears and they are spotted together in flocks of about 1000.

Their food mainly consists of seeds and insects. Hence, they tend to visit feeders with sunflower seeds. However, the best way to attract them is to scatter the seeds on the ground as they prefer to eat from feeders.

Pine Grosbeak

These birds are a variety of finch species. Though these birds are principally grey, there are areas that are red such as their heads, breasts, and backs. Finches are known to be small but these birds are exceptions. They are unusually large for finches and comparatively slower also.

They are spotted easily in summer in the west, especially in open spruce and pine forests. In the winter, look for them in the northern states. If you are in the northern states during the winter, you can lure these birds with black oil sunflower seed feeders.

Final Words

From this article, it is obvious that the number of birds with redheads is big. However, with the help of the identifying features discussed in this article, it should be easy for you to identify any red-headed bird that you come across.

About the author

Hi, I'm Andrew. I am a highly experienced birder with a passionate interest in bird behavior and ecology. I have worked extensively with both captive and wild birds, conducting research on their natural history, physiology, and conservation. My work has taken me all over the world, and I have been lucky enough to observe some of the rarest and most exclusive species on earth. I am also an experienced teacher, having taught ornithology at both the college and high school levels.

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