There are hundreds of different species of birds in North America. Some are vibrantly colored, while others are duller in color, perfectly camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings.
But, of all of the birds out there, which of them have red heads?
Whether you’ve spotted a new feathered friend hopping around your backyard recently or you’re simply trying to find some new birds to tick off your bird watching list, you’ve come to the right place.
Below, we’ve listed 25 birds with red heads that you can find in North America. Some of these you’ll likely have heard of before, while others will be new to you.
Either way, one thing is for sure; you’re guaranteed to learn something new!
Let’s kick things off with one the most colorful birds on our list. The Scarlet Tanager is almost entirely red.
It has a bright red head, upperparts, and underparts. Only the wings, tail, and eye are jet black.
Despite this vivid coloring, Scarlet Tanagers can be quite difficult to spot. This is because they live high up in the forest canopy.
You can, however, attract them to your garden by planting blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other soft fruits.
Scarlet Tanagers are only fair weather visitors to North America, and return to South America in fall to spend the winter in warmer temperatures.
Members of the Finch family, the Pine Grosbeak has a bright red head, back, and breast.
The rest of its body is covered with gray feathers, including the wings and tail.
Unlike a lot of their Finch cousins, this bird is relatively large and slow, making them pretty easy to spot.
During the summer. Pine Grosbeaks set up home in pine and spruce forests.
They are non-migratory, but may head a little further South if temperatures start to drop too far.
Their prefered diet is seeds, and you’ll have a very good chance of encouraging the Pine Grosbeak into your garden by filling your feeders with black sunflower seeds.
The male Northern Cardinal sports a red head, tail, wings and body.
The only other color it has is a black mask that runs across the eyes through to the bottom of its beak.
As is the case with most birds, the female isn’t as showy and, instead, is brown in color with just a few red highlights.
Northern Cardinals are non-migratory, which means they can be spotted all over North America all year round.
Their bright red coloring also makes them particularly stunning set against a snowy backdrop, and they will visit feeders during the winter as long as they are stocked with their favorite foods.
These include millet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
One interesting fact about Northern Cardinals is that they are notoriously territorial. Some have even been seen attacking their own reflection in a bid to defend their territory!
Acorn Woodpeckers are almost entirely black and white, save for their bright red cap.
They cover quite a small range across North America which, along with their mostly-camouflaged body, can make them quite difficult to spot.
They are most abundant in Southern States and along the California coast.
Their prefered habitat is oak woodlands where they live in large groups.
As their name suggests, they feed mainly on acorns which they store by cramming into the holes of a tree they have already drummed out with their sharp beaks.
Acorn Woodpeckers will visit bird feeders when food is scarce, particularly those stocked with different kinds of seed and suet.
With bright red head, breast, and throat, the Vermilion Flycatcher truly is a beautiful bird. It also has black upperparts, wings, and a black eye stripe that contrast with the red, giving it an even more striking appearance.
Their natural habitat is the desert landscapes of the far South, where they can be found all year round.
They are most abundant in the Southwest, but they can also be found in smaller numbers along the Gulf Coast.
Vermilion Flycatchers are exclusively insectivorous (hence their name) so there’s not a very good chance of enticing them into your garden.
You may spot one if you trek through their natural habitat though, particularly during summer when insect numbers are higher.
Much like the Acorn Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker is almost entirely black and white.
The difference is that it has a magnificent scarlet crest on the top of its head and is also larger, measuring around the same size as a crow.
Found along the North-West Coast as well as some Eastern States, the Pileated Woodpecker hunts for carpenter ants amongst the dead wood of trees, using its specially-evolved beak to peck away at the bark and expose them.
When winter rolls around insects are less abundant, the Pileated Woodpecker has been known to visit garden bird feeders – especially those that are well stocked with suet.
Another super colorful bird, the Palm Warbler has a bright red cap on top of their head.
They also have vibrant yellow feathers across their underparts, breast, and face, while their upperparts are olive-green streaked with dark brown.
Their breeding grounds are in Canada, but they can also be found along the South Coast and Florida all year round.
The best time to spot them is during spring and fall, and they can be found in scrubby areas, weedy fields, and forest edges.
Here they’ll hunt for insects, which is their prefered food choice. They’re also quite social birds and will happily live alongside Juncos, Sparrows, and Yellow-Rumped Warblers.
Often mistaken for a Woodpecker, the Red-Breasted Sapsucker has a bright red head and face while the rest of its body is covered with black and white plumage.
This colorful little bird can be found all year round in the Pacific Coast, and sets up its home in coniferous forests.
As you may have guessed from their name, the Red-Breasted Sapsucker feeds almost exclusively on the sap of trees.
It accesses this by using its specially evolved beak to drill holes into the tree and then drinks from those.
These holes are often used by humming birds as well once the Sapsucker has left.
Sap isn’t their only source of food, though. Red-Breasted Sapsuckers will also feed on fruit and insects.
Measuring about the same size as a Sparrow, the Downy Woodpecker has a bright red patch at the back of its head.
The rest of its plumage is black and white, and, much like many species of birds, the male has the red patch while the female is entirely black and white.
Common across most states, Downy Woodpeckers live in mixed forests.
They aren’t very territorial either, and happily coexist alongside many other community-focused species including Nuthatches and Chickadees.
Throughout spring and summer, the Downy Woodpecker’s prefered food source is insects.
However, as winter approaches, they will eat seeds and nuts and will visit garden bird feeders and tables stocked with millet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
While not a backyard visitor (unless you live right by a large lake or pond), the Redhead still makes it onto our list of North America’s red-headed birds.
This duck has a rust-red head, black tail, and black breast. The rest of its body is covered with gray plumage.
Resident to North American all year round, Redheads can be found in the reedy ponds of Western States and the Great Plains.
They are especially abundant during the winter when thousands of Redhead Ducks flock together for warmth and protection.
One of the smallest birds in the world, Anna’s Hummingbird has a bright red cap, pink face and throat, and emerald green body.
Females are less vivid in color, but still have the same markings.
Both sexes are the same size, however, measuring around the same size as a ping pong ball.
Common along the Pacific Coast, Anna’s Hummingbird feeds on the nectar from large, colorful plants.
You can encourage these into your garden by planting such flowers, or by hanging a couple of hanging bird feeders.
This tiny bird also has a unique mating ritual.
During breeding season, the male will attract a mate by putting on a display of aerial acrobatics, diving vertically from high up and stopping just before they hit the floor.
Similar in shape and size to a Sparrow, the Cassin’s Finch has a bright red head and face. It also has matching red markings either side of its tail, while the rest of its body is covered with brown feathers.
Cassin’s Finches aren’t common bird feeder visitors and tend to stick to their prefered habitats of the mountainous forests in the Western States.
Here they forage together in flocks, looking for seeds and insects to feed on.
They may visit feeders when food is scarce, especially those in gardens that have fruiting shrubs such as grapes, apples, and mulberries.
One of the telltale signs of summer, the Barn Swallow has a bright red face and blue wings, upperparts, and tail.
Its underside is a tawny-white color. Barn Swallows are migratory birds that come to North America from late spring to late summer, before heading back South to spend the winter in warmer climes.
As you may have guessed from their name, Barn Swallows are known for their habit of nesting in barns and other outbuildings.
You can also encourage them to your garden by installing specialist Swallow boxes, or by placing ground up eggshells on your bird feeders.
The best place to spot a Barn Swallow is to wait patiently outside a barn and notice as they fly in and out, feeding their young brood.
They can also be seen flying very high up in the sky across open fields and near water, catching insects on the wing.
The Western Tanager is a vibrantly-colored bird with a bright red head and face, yellow neck, underparts, and breast, and black upperparts, wings, and tail.
The wings are also tipped with flashes of pure white.
Found all over the Western States, the Western Tanager spends spring and summer in North America for breeding before heading back South for the Winter.
Their prefered habitat is open, coniferous forests where they feed on insects, seeds, and fruits.
Despite their bright coloring, it can be quite difficult to spot a Western Tanager in the wild as they tend to stay quite high up in the forest canopy.
You can increase your chances, however, by filling your backyard feeders with dried fried or cut up oranges.
One of the most common birds in North America, the Common Redpoll has a bright red head and pink breast.
The rest of its body is covered with brown and white feathers. They are non-migratory birds and can be found in multiple States all year round.
During the winter, they occasionally tunnel deep into the snow to keep themselves warm and protected.
However, during the summer months, you’ll find them in weedy fields feeding on seeds.
The Common Redpoll is a hungry little bird that can eat up to 42% of its own body weight in a single day.
They can also store 2 grams of seeds in a specially-evolved pouch within their esophagus.
They are common bird feeder visitors and, if you want to increase your chances of drawing them in, be sure to include nyjer seed amongst your offerings.
Another pretty common bird, the House Finch can be found flitting around forest edges, parks, farms, and backyards.
They are quite easy to identify thanks to their bright red head and breast which really stands out against the light brown feathers that cover the rest of their body.
The House Finch isn’t native to North America, and was originally only introduced to the Western States.
However, this resilient little bird has done incredibly well and can now be found in almost every State.
Their preferred food is sunflower and nyjer seeds, so if you want to draw them into your garden make sure you’ve stocked your feeders and bird tables with these.
Very similar in appearance to the House Finch, the Purple Finch has a reddish-purple head and breast.
The rest of its body is covered with brown and white feathers, and the majority of its underside is white.
They have a similar coverage to the House Finch as well, although they aren’t as abundant.
They also eat the same foods and will happily flock to bird feeders that are well stocked with sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have quite a confusing name. Their underside and breast is really more of a pale pink than it is red.
They do, however, have a bright red head and neck, while its upperparts are covered with black and white plumage.
Found in most Eastern States, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker is famed for its loud call that can be heard throughout spring and summer.
Its prefered habitat is forests and mixed woodland, especially those that have quite a lot of deadwood.
This deadwood is often home to multiple insects including carpenter ants, which they’ll peck away at the wood to uncover.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is covered in emerald green feathers and has a flash of bright red on its head and throat.
Females are less vivid in color, but still have the same markings and both sexes are the same size.
You’ll most likely find a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in woodland edges of flower gardens where they feed on the nectar of tubular flowers.
You can also encourage them into your garden by incorporating certain plants into your garden including honeysuckle, red morning glory, bee-balm, and trumpet creepers. They will also visit a well-stocked hummingbird feeder.
As with most birds, the male Red Crossbill is the more colorful sex and it has brick-red plumage all over its body.
Only the wings and tails are different and are a dark brown color instead.
Non-migratory, you can find the Red Crossbill all year round in Western and Northern States as well as Eastern States during the winter.
Their unique bill that gives them their name is specially evolved to break open pinecones and get to the seeds inside.
This diet means that you’ll most likely spot them in coniferous forests, although they have been known to visit gardens with pine trees.
Common across most of North America, the Hairy Woodpecker is remarkably similar in appearance to the Downy Woodpecker.
It has the same black and white plumage and bright red patch on the head.
The only real difference is their size, with the Hairy Woodpecker being slightly larger than the Downy Woodpecker.
You’re more likely to hear a Hairy Woodpecker before you see one, with that telltale “tap-tap-tap” of them hammering into wood in search of insects being their biggest give away.
With black and white feathers all over their body and a bright red patch on the top of their head, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is another bird that is often mistaken for a Woodpecker.
They do have one distinctive feature that sets them apart, though – that namesake pale yellow belly.
The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker can be spotted in mixed forests and you’ll know if one has been in the area recently by their telltale rows of small, shallow holes left in trees.
These holes are made by their super-sharp beak used to gain access to the tree’s sap which they feed on using their brush-tipped tongue.
There are no prizes for guessing how this bird got its name! The Red-Headed Woodpecker has a bright red head and neck, white underparts, and black upperparts, tail, and wings.
The wings are also tipped with bright white markings.
They are native year round in Eastern States, but those in the far North-West will migrate East for winter, adding to the existing population.
They can be found in swamps, open woodlands, and pine forests – basically anywhere with an abundance of dead wood for them to hunt through in search of insects.
The male Summer Tanager is almost entirely red in color. The only dark marking it has are a few black streaks across its wings.
Females, on the other hand, are yellow and don’t have any red markings at all!
You are most likely to spot a Summer Tanager in the open woodlands of Southern and Eastern States during spring and summer, before they migrate South for the winter.
They also have a clever feeding technique of catching bees and wasps on the wing, carrying them over to a branch, and rubbing their stinger off before eating them.
We’ve saved one of the most interesting, and certainly harder to pronounce, birds to round off our list.
The Pyrrhuloxia has a red face, and red markings that run from its neck all the way down to its tail.
The rest of its body is covered in pale gray feathers, and the female Pyrrhuloxia has no red markings at all.
They feed almost exclusively on seeds but will also feed on insects during the spring and summer.
They also live in flocks during the winter, some of which can be up to 1000 birds strong, residing in the deserts of the Southwest.
There you have it – 25 birds with red heads that you can spot all across North America.
So, the next time you see a new red headed bird in your garden that you’re unfamiliar with, open up this list and you may just find that you’ve got yourself a rare visitor!