Identify A Bird With Red Head: 9 Redheads Of The Bird World

bird with red head

One of the best ways of identifying new birds is to take note of obvious features like their shape and color. If you’ve spotted a Bird With Red Head in the United States, the list of possibilities has been narrowed down by a long way. 

In this article, I’ll give you a description of all the birds with red head you’re most likely to see, as well as pictures of each to help you confirm your sighting. 

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Identify A Bird With A Red Head: 9 Redheads Of The Bird World

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1. Cassin’s Finch

small bird with red head

Cassin’s Finch is a small brown bird with a red head that looks very much like 2 other similar birds, the House Finch and the Purple Finch. It is only the male Cassin’s Finch whose head is red.  

He is a striking red-headed bird with a reddish face, chest, and back and differs from the House Finch by having unmarked whitish underparts. These birds with red head can be found in the mountain country of the Western states like Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Their distribution also ranges North into Canada and south into Mexico.

Birdwatching Tip for Cassin’s Finch

Spot Cassin’s Finches between late summer and early autumn.

2. House Finch

brown bird with red head

The House Finch are common and widespread small redheads. The red-headed finch can be seen almost throughout the United States, even in town and city centers. 

This bird’s head is red with a brown body, that looks very similar to the Cassin’s Finch but differs by having streaked, brownish underparts. It is only the male House Finch that has a redhead, especially during the breeding season when their colors become much brighter. House finches often visit finch feeders and are a joy to watch in the yard.

Birdwatching Tip for House Finch

Attract them by putting suet, millet, nyjer, or sunflower seeds on your feeder.

3. Western Tanager

black bird with red head

The Western Tanager is a colorful bird with a red head from the Western United States, ranging north and south of the borders, into Mexico and Canada. They are yellow birds with red heads and mostly black backs

This is one of the most beautiful red bird species in Central and South America and is hard to mistake for any other. The reddish head of the Western Tanager is most pronounced in the breeding season.

Birdwatching Tip for Western Tanager

In winter, they nest in forests. During summer, they frequent lakes and ponds.

4. Red-faced Warbler 

black and white bird with red head

The Red-faced Warbler is a beautiful little grey bird with a red head. The bold head of these birds is also marked with a black ‘helmet’. 

These red headed birds are not very widespread in the United States and are only likely to be seen in the states of Arizona and New Mexico. They are a bird of high-altitude forests and are present only in the summer months, so you will probably need to travel to see one.

Birdwatching Tip for Red-Faced Warbler

Listen for the male Red-Faced Warblers’ merry song and look for their white belly.

5. Vermillion Flycatcher

small brown bird with red head

Compared to other birds the male Vermillion Flycatchers not only have a shocking redheads, but a completely red underside to match. The female, on the other hand, looks like a completely different species, being rather plain and brown.

The feathers on the head of the male form a crest that can be lifted or lowered. These red headed birds live in the desert and can only be seen in the southern states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Birdwatching Tip for Vermillion Flycatcher

Spot them between December and May in areas where insects flourish.

6. Pileated Woodpecker

yellow bird with red head

The Pileated Woodpecker is a large black bird with a red head. These impressive woodpeckers are much bigger than any other red-headed woodpecker in the United States. Pileated Woodpeckers have a mostly black body, with some white markings on the face and neck and a brilliant red crown. 

This large bird with red head can be seen in well-wooded countries throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, and in parts of the northwest. These woodpeckers will even visit suet feeders in backyards sometimes, so if you live in the right area, you might well be able to attract a pair of these incredible wild birds.

Birdwatching Tip for Pileated Woodpecker

Aside from using suet, attract them with peanut butter or sunflower seeds.

7. Red-breasted Sapsucker

 bird with red head and chest

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a small bird with a red chest and head. Apart from the red plumage around the head, they have black backs, grey bellies, and a characteristic white spot between the base of the bill and the eye.

These little woodpeckers occur in a fairly narrow belt of land on North America’s west coast, from Canada, south to Mexico. These red headed birds prefer coniferous forests, although they can be seen in a wide variety of wooded habitats.

Birdwatching Tip for Red-Breasted Sapsucker

The best time to watch them is in May, in the early mornings.

8. Red-bellied Woodpecker

grey bird with red head

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are well-known birds with red heads. These medium-sized woodpeckers are common birds in the eastern half of the United States and are a common Florida bird. In this species, only the top of the head is red, while the belly is cream-colored and the back is attractively marked in black and white. 

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are another red headed bird that will occasionally visit backyard bird feeders. Apart from wooded suburbs, this species is most often seen in forested areas and woodlands.

Birdwatching Tip for Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Attract them to your yard during winter with seeds and nuts.

9. Red-headed Woodpecker

bird with red head and brown body

If you’ve seen black and white birds with red heads, they could be Red-headed woodpeckers. When thinking of a classic bird with a red at the back of its head, this is the first species that comes to mind. 

This black and white bird with red head is one of a few species with redheads in the eastern United States, but it is probably the easiest to identify. Red-headed Woodpeckers are most likely spotted in deciduous woodlands, where they forage for fruits, insects, and seeds.   

Other Redheaded Woodpeckers

Almost all American woodpeckers are birds with red on the back of their heads. The best examples are:

  • Lewis’s Woodpecker
  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Red-naped Sapsucker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Nuttall’s Woodpecker

Birdwatching Tip for Red-Headed Woodpecker

Attract them with fruits like apples, cherries, or pears.

More Birds With Some Red Markings On The Head

If, after going through all the birds with red head already mentioned on this list, you still haven’t identified the bird you saw, consider one of the following:

  • Male Ring-necked Pheasant
  • Male Wild Turkey
  • Male Magnificent Frigatebird
  • White Ibis
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Common Gallinule
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Barn Swallow
  • Ruby-crowned kinglet
  • Common and Hoary Redpolls 

These birds don’t have purely redheads, but all of them do at least have some red coloration on the head. 


Why do birds have different colors?

There are many reasons for birds having the colors that they have. Some of the most important reasons are:

  • To impress members of the opposite sex
  • To recognize other individuals of the same species
  • To Intimidate other members of the same species in territorial displays
  • For camouflage to protect against predators

Why are male birds more colorful than females?

In the bird world, the male is usually more colorful and attractively marked than the female. He needs these bright colors to attract a female and show off to other males. Bright colors signify health and fitness, which females look for because it could mean the male will be a good father or at least that he has good genes. 

How do birds get their colors?

The colors we see on the plumage of birds result from light reflected from pigments and other minute structures in the feathers. 

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have no problem identifying birds with red heads in the United States. As a challenge, why not consider seeing all these red headed birds out there while birding? Sounds like fun, right? Happy birdwatching!

6 thoughts on “Identify A Bird With Red Head: 9 Redheads Of The Bird World”

  1. Are there any birds like the red-bellied woodpecker except the black and white pattern was on the breast instead of the back? It also has a light tan beak.

    • The bird you are describing might be a Northern Flicker, which has a black crescent-shaped patch on its chest and a tan beak.


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