Birds with a Red Head: The Complete List + Photos for Fast & Accurate ID

Inside: A complete list of birds with a red head throughout the US and Canada including a full-color photo of each bird, details about habitat, diet, appearance, nesting habits, and a range map to show you where you may see them.

Maybe you spotted a bird with a red head and wondered what type it is. Or, maybe you’re dreaming of birds with red heads. Either way, you’ve come to the right place. This article includes the species of wild birds in the US and Canada with red heads. They could have an entire head that’s red, a spot on the head that’s red, or the entire bird is red- they’re all here!

The next step is to identify it.

A beautiful photo of each bird and their range map are included to help you identify the one you may be interested in – or hope to see one day. It doesn’t stop there. You’ll also learn about the bird’s habitat, diet, nesting habits, and what foods they’ll eat at the feeder.

The range maps are color-coded so you know if it’s a year-round bird, there to breed, migrating through, or there during a nonbreeding time.

range map color coded key

With more than 20 years of experience attracting backyard birds to my yard (Wisconsin), I’ve studied all of the red-headed birds in my area so I have the information you’re looking for. For the remaining red-headed species, I rely on my trusty sourcebooks and friends at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to guide me.

My hope is that this article will help you easily identify the bird with a red head that you saw or plan to see one day. So let’s get at it. The first section includes birds with an all-red head followed by birds with partial red heads or just a bit of red on their head.

Birds with All Red Heads

Hepatic Tanager

Male hepatic tanager
Male hepatic tanager. Photo by Robin Edwards.
AppearanceA small to a medium-sized bird that varies in size from 4 – 8″, dark red all over with streaks of gray, thick gray beak, and long tail. Female and juveniles are yellow.
DietPrimarily insects and spiders. Also, dine on fruit.
Feeder FoodDo not commonly visit a feeder.
HabitatOpen wooded areas in a few southeast states
NestingWide almost flat nest of grass, twigs, and other plant material. 1 brood/season, 3-5 eggs/brood. Eggs are blue/green with specs of brown/purple.

Range Map

Hepatic tanager range map.
Hepatic tanager range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

House Finch

House finch on a branch
House finch (male). Photo taken by Tammy Poppie.
AppearanceSmall bird about 5″ long, orange/red face chest and rump. Brown wings streaked with white. White belly with brown streaks. The Female and juvenile are brown with streaks of white.
DietSeeds, fruit, tree buds.
Feeder FoodBlack oil sunflower seed is their favorite.
HabitatHouse finches are found in the western and eastern parts of the US. They prefer to live around human dwellings (buildings, backyard trees, and shrubs, barns. Also are found in parks and other urban areas.
NestingNest: Small cup about 3-7″ wide, constructed from stems, leaves and plant roots, and feathers. The nests are built in coniferous or deciduous trees or even any place that holds a nest (ledges, vents, hanging plants).
Broods: 1-6 broods/season
Clutch: 2-6 eggs/brood (typical is 4-5)
Egg color: Eggs are pale blue and speckled with black and purple dots.
Egg size: 0.6 – 0.8 inches by 0.5 inches
Incubation: 13-14 days and the young fledge between 12-19 days.

Range Map

House finch range map.
House finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Cardinal

male cardinal on platform feeder
male cardinal perched on platform feeder
female cardinal perched on a branch
Female cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.
AppearanceNorthern cardinals are medium-sized bright red birds about 8 1/2″ long with a black mask, red crown, orange beak, and black areas on wings and tail. The female also has an orange beak but is buff-brown with a tan crown + a tinge of red, red spots on the wings & tail.
DietInsects, spiders, centipedes, snails, and slugs. Fruit and seeds from plants.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, mealworms, striped Sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn.
HabitatEdges of wooded areas to thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyard gardens.
In the southwest live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.
NestingOpen-cup nest in a dense shrub about 3-10′ up. They have 2-3 broods/year, 1-5 eggs/brood that are beige with brown spots. Incubation is 12-13 days.

Range Map

Northern cardinal range map
Northern cardinal range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Pine Grosbeak

Male pine grosbeak
Male pine grosbeak. Photo by Janet Jarzynski.
AppearanceSturdy bird approx 8-10″ long, soft pinkish-red with gray & charcoal body, short charcoal beak, medium tail with black tip, wings of black, white, and red. No crown. The Female is gray with a yellow head and tail.
DietMostly seeds and fruits from their habitat (pine trees). Sometimes supplements with insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds and suet.
HabitatOpen areas with coniferous trees and deciduous trees in winter.
NestingAbout 20′ up in evergreen trees rests their rather large nest constructed with roots and twigs then lined grass, pine needles, and feathers. 1 brood/season, 3-4 eggs/brood, incubation lasts 13-14 days and they fledge between 13-20 days. Eggs are light blue and dotted.

Range Map

Pine Grosbeak range map.
Pine Grosbeak range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Purple Finch

Male purple house finch
Male purple house finch. Photo by Chris Harris.
AppearanceSmall bird about 6″ long with a raspberry-red head with lighter shades on breast, back, and rump. The wings and tail are brown. Females are brown with brown striped breasts and white streaks across their eyes.
DietSeeds, insects, and fruit.
Feeder FoodBlack oil sunflower seeds are their favorite.
HabitatPrefer coniferous forests in summer along with mixed forests near streams and tree-lined backyards.
NestingNests are found anywhere from 2-60′ off the ground on a tree branch and constructed from twigs, sticks, and plant roots. Lined with grass and hair.

Range Map

Purple finch range map.
Purple finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker.
Red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
AppearanceRed-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized birds about 9″ long with a red head, black back, white rump, chest, and belly. Also has white patches on its wings, black tail, and gray legs and bill. The female is the same as the male.
DietInsects, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Feeder FoodSuet and hulled peanuts.
HabitatOpen woodlands especially when ample deciduous trees are present.
NestingThese birds are cavity nesters and will choose a tree hole or manmade nesting box. They have 1 brood/year, 4-5 white eggs/brood, and incubate for 12-13 days.

Range Map

Red-headed woodpecker  range map.
Red-headed woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager
Male scarlet tanager. Photo by Cheryl Anne.
Female Scarlet tanager perched on a branch
Female scarlet tanager. Photo by Kayann Cassidy.
AppearanceApproximately 6.5″ long, vibrant red face and body (although many consider it a deep shade of orange), tan beak, black wings, and short black tail. No crown.
The female scarlet tanager (and juveniles) are the same except yellow instead of red.
DietInsects in summer; fruit in fall/winter.
Feeder FoodScarlet tanagers are unlikely to visit feeders. However, you can attract them by planting berry-producing plants such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, juneberries, serviceberries, mulberries, and strawberries.
HabitatThickly forested regions in the eastern US. Often spotted high in the treetops.
NestingA loosely constructed nest of grass, twigs, bark strips, pine needs, and other plant materials. The nest rests high in a deciduous tree out in the middle of a horizontal branch about 50′ up. 1 brood/season, 3-5 eggs/brood, eggs are green/blue with multicolored and shaded marks of brown, purple/red. Incubation is 12-14 days and the young fledge between 9-15 days.

Range Map

Scarlet tanager range map.
Scarlet tanager range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Summer Tanager

Summer tanager
Male summer tanager. Photo by Renee Kramer.
AppearanceSmall bird about 6.5-7″ long, bright red all over, long tan beak, medium-length tail, no crown. Female and juvenile are yellow.
DietInsects, especially bees and wasps. Also dine on spiders, cicadas, beetles, ants, and termites. Fruit including mulberries, pokeweed, citrus, and bananas.
Feeder FoodUnliked to visit a feeder. However, they can be enticed by planting berry trees and shrubs – especially near a forested area.
HabitatOpen forested areas that contain deciduous & pine trees throughout much of south-central and southeastern US.
NestingThe nest is constructed primarily from dried grasses and herbs into a small cavity and often placed at the fork of tree branches. 1-2 broods/season, 3-4 eggs/brood, incubation is 11-12 days and the young fledge after about 8-12 days. Eggs are pale blue/green with brown spots.

Range Map

Summer tanager range map
Summer tanager range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Male vermillion flycatcher
Male vermillion flycatcher. Photo by Ruth Cornwell.
AppearanceSmall bird about 5″ long. Bright red-orange with brown back, feathers, tail, and a mask over each eye. Flathead and stocky chest with a dark brown pointy bill. Females are gray/brown with a white breast and rust-colored lower belly.
DietFlying insects are their favorite. They also dine on grasshoppers and butterflies, honeybees, beetles, and crickets.
Feeder FoodYou may be able to entice them with mealworms.
HabitatPrimarily live in the far southwest in the scrubby desert, wooded areas near riverbanks and lowlands with shrubs.
NestingSmall nest constructed of twigs, grass, and spiderwebs located about 10-20′ up in a tree in the fork of a branch. 1-2 broods/season, 2-4 eggs/brood, incubation is 13-15 days and the young fledge about 14-16 days. Eggs are white with light and dark spots.

Range Map

Vermilion flycatcher range map.
Vermilion flycatcher range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Western Tanager

Western tanager.
Western tanager. Photo by Hunter Masters on Unsplash
AppearanceThe western tanager is a medium-sized bird about 7 1/4″ long with a bright red-orange head, black-and-yellow wings, and bright yellow chest. The female does not have a red-orange head. Instead, she’s an olive-yellow color throughout.
DietInsects and occasionally fruits and berries.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatOpen woodlands, especially when pine, oak, and conifers are present. Higher elevations are preferred.
NestingThe cup-shaped nest is placed high in a conifer tree, up to 60′ up. They have 4 eggs/brood and incubate for about 13-14 days.
Western tanager  range map.
Western tanager range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Birds with a Partial Red Head

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn woodpecker climbing up a tree
Acorn woodpecker. Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay
AppearanceAcorn woodpeckers are large birds about 9″ long. Their bold colors consist of red, white, and black on the head and black wings with white wing patches. A red crown is surrounded by a white forehead. The female looks the same except with a red crown with a black band in front instead of all red.
DietInsects and occasionally acorns and other nuts.
Feeder FoodSuet and peanuts.
HabitatWoodlands with oak trees as well as mixed oak and conifers.
NestingAcorn woodpeckers are cavity nesters. They have 3-8 eggs/brood and incubate for about 11 days.

Range Map

Acorn woodpecker range map.
Acorn woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Arizona Woodpecker

Male Arizona woodpecker on a tree
Male Arizona woodpecker. Photo by Sarah Beth.
Arizona woodpecker (female) on branch
Female Arizona woodpecker. Photo by Sarah Beth.
AppearanceThe Arizona woodpecker is a medium-sized bird about 7-8″ long and predominantly a dusty brown color. The belly is white and brown spotted, the head has a brown crown in front and red behind, a brown spot behind each eye, a brown streak across its lower neck, long pointy bill.
The female is the same except her crown is all brown, no red.
DietInsects, especially beetle larvae. They also eat ants, fruits, and acorns.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatFound only in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and Mexico, they prefer wooded areas.
NestingThey’re cavity nesters and have 2-3 eggs/brood. They’re asynchronously so the chicks from a given brood are of different ages and sizes.

Range Map

Acorn woodpecker range map.
Acorn woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s finch. Image by Steve Crowhurst from Pixabay
AppearanceThe Cassin’s finch is a small bird about 6 1/4″ long. They’re brown with a red cap, brown stripe across their cheeks, and white underneath with light pink streaks on the chest.
The female is similar except she doesn’t have red or pink. her chest and belly are heavily streaked brown and she has a white streak above and over her eyes.
DietSeeds, buds, and berries. Occasionally insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds.
HabitatOpen forested areas rich with conifers.
NestingNest: They build a nest high up in a conifer – about 30+ feet up.
Broods: 4-5 eggs/brood
Clutch: 3-6 eggs/brood
Egg color: Light bluish with black, brown, and purplish speckles
Egg size: 0.7 – 0.8 inches by 0.5 – 0.6 inches
Incubation: 12-14 days.

Range Map

Cassin's finch finch range map.
Cassin’s finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Common Redpoll

Common redpole perched on a b ranch
Common redpoll. Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay
AppearanceThe common redpoll is a small bird about 5″ long. It’s a heavily streaked bird with a bright red crown, a black spot beneath the chin, and raspberry splotch on its chest. The female is similar except without the raspberry chest.
DietSeeds, insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, and nyjer.
HabitatOpen areas lined with trees.
NestingCup-shaped nest. They have 1 brood/season and 4-5 eggs/brood that are pale green with purple markings.

Range Map

Common redpole range map.
Common redpole range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Downy Woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker at suet
Male downy woodpecker. Photo by John Holland Jr of JEHJR Photography
AppearanceDowny woodpeckers are small birds 6″ – 7″ long. Males are tuxedo-black with a white stripe on the back, white belly, white outer tail feathers, some spotted areas of white on the wings, a yellow/tan spot above the beak, and the infamous red patch on his head at the back of the crown. Females are nearly identical without the red coloring.
DietInsects, and fruit from trees/shrubs.
Feeder FoodSuet, peanut butter spread, Sunflower seeds, Safflower seeds, hulled peanuts, corn, fruits, nectar (sugar water).
HabitatAnywhere there are trees.
NestingDowny woodpeckers nest in cavities – either a hole in a tree trunk or a nesting box. Usually only one brood per season, 3-6 all-white eggs. Incubation is about 11-12 days.

Range Map

Downy woodpecker range map
Downy woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Gila Woodpecker

Gila woodpecker climbing up a post
Gila woodpecker. Photo by Dennis Lee Hammer.
AppearanceThe Gila woodpecker is a large bird about 8-10″ long. They are pale gray with a zebra pattern on the back, wings, and tail, a yellow patch on their lower belly, a red stripe on their crown, and a long pointy bill.
The female is similar without the red spot on the head.
DietThese birds have a varied diet including Insects (especially cicadas, ants, beetles, grasshoppers), beef and pork animal meat (especially bacon rind), earthworms, small lizards, eggs and young of songbirds, fruits, and cultivated pecans.
Feeder FoodSuet and nectar.
HabitatGila woodpeckers primarily live in the Sonoran Desert of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.
NestingGila woodpeckers are cavity nesters, typically within an excavated Saguaro cactus. They often have 3 broods/season.

Range Map

Gila woodpecker range map.
Gila woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker hopping up a tree
Hairy woodpecker. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
AppearanceA medium-sized black-and-white bird about 9″ long with a white belly, black wings with white spots. A white stripe runs down the back. They have a red mark on the back of the head and a long black bill. The Female is the same except with no red mark.
DietInsects, seeds, nuts.
Feeder FoodSuet, hulled peanuts.
HabitatMature forested areas, urban and suburban areas where dense trees are found.
NestingThey are cavity nesters generally excavating their own holes. They have 1 brood/year, 3-6 white eggs per brood. Incubation is 11-15 days.

Range Map

Hairy woodpecker range map.
Hairy woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Flicker

Red-shafted northern flicker
Red-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Kathy Overfield.
Northern flicker
Yellow-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Mike Carmo.
AppearanceA large bird about 12.5″ long. They have brown backs with black bars, a black crescent on the upper chest, and white with black spots on the belly and underparts.
• In the eastern part of their range, they are referred to as “yellow-shafted northern flickers” and have bright yellow underwings and undertail. They have a gray crown, tan face, and a red patch on the nape. The male has a black swipe on his cheek, the female does not.
• In the western part of their range, they are referred to as “red-shafted northern flickers” and have pink underwings and undertail, brown crown, gray face, and crown & nape are brown. The male has a red swipe on his cheek, the female does not.
DietInsects, especially ants.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatOpen areas near trees.
NestingThey are cavity nesters and have 1 brood/year. 5-8 white unmarked eggs per brood. Incubation is 11-14 days.

Range Map

Northern flicker range map
Northern flicker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

Nuttall's woodpecker climbing up a branch
Nuttall’s woodpecker. Photo by Curt Bianchi.
AppearanceThe Nuttall’s woodpecker is a medium-sized bird about 7 1/2″ long. They’re black-and-white with a red spot on the rear of their crown, white belly, black face with white borders, and a black bar at the base of their neck.
The female is the same except she has a black crown instead of red.
DietInsects and occasionally acorns, seeds, and fruit.
Feeder FoodSuet and sunflower seeds.
HabitatThey’re found only in California near Baja California.
NestingNuttall’s woodpeckers are cavity nesters. They’ll nest in a tree hole, the hole of a post/pole, or a manmade nesting box. They have 3-6 eggs/brood and incubate for about 14 days.

Range Map

Nuttall's woodpecker range map.
Nuttall’s woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Pileated Woodpecker

Male pileated woodpecker
Male pileated woodpecker. Photo by Anne Spiers
AppearanceA large bird about 19″ in length. They’re mostly black with white stripes on their face and neck with white underwings. The flaming red triangle-shaped crest is unmistakable and the male also has a red stripe on his cheek. The female is the same except her crest does not go all the way to her bill. And, she does not have a red stripe on her cheek.
DietInsects, especially carpenter ants.
Feeder FoodSuet, shelled peanuts, safflower seed, sunflower seed, and
songbird fruit & nut seed mix.
HabitatForests and wooded areas that offer tall deciduous (leafy trees like maple &  beech), coniferous trees (like evergreen & pine), and lower fruit & nut-bearing trees & shrubs.
NestingThey excavate their own cavity in a tree. They have 3-6 white eggs per brood and incubate them for 15-18 days.

Range Map

US map showing the range of the pileated woodpecker
Map depicting where pileated woodpeckers live. Compliments of The Cornell University.

Pyrrhuloxia

Male pyrrhuloxia
Male pyrrhuloxia. Photo by Kitsie Johnson.
AppearanceThe Pyrrhuloxia is a medium-sized bird about 8″ long with a gray body, yellow bill, a ruby-red crown & mask plus stripes of rjuby-red on the wings and tail.
The female looks the same except her mask is charcoal instead of red.
DietSeeds, fruits, and large insects.
Feeder FoodBlack-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.
HabitatPrimarily dry areas including upland deserts, savannas, and thickets of mesquite shrubs & trees.
NestingThey build a cup-shaped nest and have 1-2 broods/season. Each brood consists of 2-4 eggs that are gray/green with spots. Incubation is for 10-13 days.

Pyrrhuloxia range map.
Pyrrhuloxia range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker climbing a tree
Red-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
AppearanceMedium-sized bird about 9 1/4″ long. Zebra-like striped back with a white rump. The red crown extends down the nape of the neck. The chest is tan with just a tinge of red on the belly. The females are the same except they don’t have a red crown.
DietInsects, nuts, fruit.
Feeder FoodSuet, hulled peanuts.
HabitatIn or near forests and woodlands.
NestingThey’re cavity nesters and prefer dead trees or fence posts. They have 1-3 broods/year, 2-6 eggs/brood. Eggs are white without markings. Incubation is 12-14 days.

Range Map

Red-bellied woodpecker range map.
Red-bellied woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Faced Warbler

red faced warbler on a tree branchc
Red-faced warbler (male). Photo by Laura Wolf.
AppearanceRed-faced warblers are tiny little birds about 5.5″ long. They have gray upperparts, brown wings, and a reddish-orange head with a brown band around the top and on its nape. Underparts are white, the beak is stubby & short while their tail is rather long.
Females are similar except their face is orange rather than reddish-orange.
DietInsects.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatOften found above sea level in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico. They prefer pine and deciduous trees like oaks and aspen. They can also be found in canyons and other areas with streams.
NestingNest: Small cup about 4″ x 2″, comprised of bark, leaves, and pine needles. Animal hair and soft grass line the nest.
Clutch: 3-6 eggs/brood
Egg color: Eggs are white with tiny brown specks – especially at one end.

Range Map

red faced warbler bird's range map
Red-faced warbler’s range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Headed Woodpecker

White-headed woodpecker climbing up a tree trunk
White-headed woodpecker. Photo by Terry Spivey.
AppearanceThe white-headed woodpecker is a large bird about 9″ long with a black body, bright white head and white patches on its wings, a narrow red stripe from the back of the crown to the neck, and a black pointy bill.
The female is similar except she does not have the red stripe on the crown.
DietInsects and pine seeds.
Feeder FoodUnlikely to visit a feeder.
HabitatConiferous mountain woodlands (especially pine trees).
NestingWhite-headed woodpeckers are cavity nesters, usually low in a large conifer tree. They have 1 brood/season with 2-9 white eggs.

Range Map

White-headed woodpecker range map.
White-headed woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker climbing side of tree
Yellow-bellied sapsucker. Image by iTop Loveliness from Pixabay
AppearanceSmall bird about 8-9″ long with a checkered back. They have a red forehead, crown, and chin. The chest and belly are tan to yellow and have white wing patches. The Female is similar except she has a white marking on her chin.
DietInsects and tree sap.
Feeder FoodSuet and mealworms.
HabitatDensely wooded areas with living trees.
NestingThey are cavity nesters and have 1 brood per year. 5-6 eggs/brood are all white. Incubation lasts 12-13 days.

Range Map

Yellow-bellied sapsucker range map.
Yellow-bellied sapsucker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Hopefully, you’ve identified the red-headed bird from this article or just broadened your knowledge of red-headed birds in North America. If you want to see more of a particular species of red-headed bird, consider taking steps to attract them.

How to Attract Northern Cardinals

How to Attract Pileated Woodpeckers

How to Attract Northern Flickers

How to Attract Downy Woodpeckers

Happy Birding!

More than 25 years ago, Tammy put her first bird feeder outside her kitchen window. Since then she learned how to attract wild birds to her backyard. Studying the meaning & symbolism of wild birds is also a passion of hers.