17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

In the vast lands of North America, there exists a vibrant array of avian species, thriving amidst the lush nature and captivating the eyes of curious onlookers. Among these feathered creatures, there are 17 fascinating birds distinguished by their striking red heads. From the charming House Finch to the elegant Scarlet Tanager, each one possesses a unique allure that captures the attention of bird enthusiasts in the United States and Canada. Some birds, like the finches and cardinals, prefer the comforts of backyard feeders, while others, such as the woodpeckers and flycatchers, find solace in the embrace of towering trees. With their distinctive plumage and diverse habitats, these 17 birds with red heads beckon us to marvel at their beauty and embrace the wonders of the avian world.

17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

House Finch

Description

The House Finch is a small bird that measures about 5 to 6 inches in length. It has a stout body with a short, conical bill. The males have a reddish-pink head and chest, while the females have a more subdued brown plumage. Both males and females have stripes on their wings and tails. Overall, the House Finch has a relatively plain appearance compared to some of the other birds with red heads.

Habitat

House Finches can be found across North America, from southern Canada to Mexico. They are adaptable birds that can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban and rural areas. They tend to be more common in residential areas with gardens and bird feeders.

Feeding Habits

House Finches primarily feed on seeds and fruits. They have a special affinity for sunflower seeds and can often be seen feeding at bird feeders. They also eat berries, buds, and occasionally insects. House Finches are known for their acrobatic feeding behavior, often hanging upside-down while feeding.

Migration Patterns

House Finches are generally non-migratory birds, meaning they do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some populations may exhibit seasonal movements in search of food. In colder northern regions, House Finches may move to more hospitable areas during the winter months.

Interesting Facts

  • House Finches are known for their melodious songs, which are often sung by the males to attract mates.
  • They were introduced to eastern North America in the 1940s and have since become one of the most common birds in residential areas.
  • House Finches have been known to hybridize with other finch species, producing offspring with unique plumage patterns.
  • They are social birds and often gather in flocks, especially during the non-breeding season.
  • House Finches have a lifespan of about 5 to 6 years in the wild.

Purple Finch

Description

The Purple Finch is a medium-sized bird with a slightly larger body than the House Finch. Males have a deep raspberry-red head and chest, with streaks of brown and white on their back and wings. Females have a more muted plumage, with a streaked brown appearance and hints of red on their head and chest.

Habitat

Purple Finches can be found across North America, primarily in the northern parts of the United States and Canada. They prefer coniferous and mixed forests, as well as open woodlands with a dense understory. They are less commonly found in urban areas compared to House Finches.

Feeding Habits

Purple Finches have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, and insects. They have a preference for seeds from conifer trees, such as pine and spruce, but also feed on berries and insects during the breeding season. Purple Finches are known for their ability to crack open seeds using their strong bills.

Migration Patterns

Purple Finches are partially migratory birds, with some individuals migrating south in the winter. Their migration patterns can vary depending on food availability and weather conditions. Some Purple Finches may remain in their breeding range if food sources are plentiful.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Purple Finch is often described as a melodic warble, similar to the song of the House Finch.
  • During the breeding season, males can be observed performing elaborate courtship displays, including fluffing up their feathers and singing loudly.
  • Purple Finches have a preference for coniferous trees, where they build their nests. They line their nests with soft materials like moss and feathers.
  • These birds are highly territorial during the breeding season and will defend their nests vigorously against other birds.
  • Purple Finches have a lifespan of about 5 years in the wild.

Cassin’s Finch

Description

Cassin’s Finch is a medium-sized bird that closely resembles the Purple Finch. Males have a rose-red head and chest, with streaks of brown on their back and wings. Females, similar to the Purple Finch, have a streaked brown appearance with hints of red on their head and chest.

Habitat

Cassin’s Finches are primarily found in the western parts of North America, specifically in coniferous forests and mountainous regions. They prefer higher elevations and can be found in alpine meadows and subalpine zones. They are less commonly seen in lowland areas.

Feeding Habits

Like other finch species, Cassin’s Finches have a varied diet that includes seeds, fruits, and insects. They feed on a variety of seeds, particularly those from conifer trees. They also eat berries, buds, and insects during the breeding season.

Migration Patterns

Cassin’s Finches are generally non-migratory birds, meaning they do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some populations may exhibit altitudinal migrations, moving to lower elevations during the winter months to search for food.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Cassin’s Finch is a pleasant, sweet warble that is similar to the songs of other finch species.
  • These birds are highly sociable and often form large flocks outside of the breeding season.
  • Cassin’s Finches build cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs using grass, bark, and other plant materials.
  • They are known for their ability to hang upside-down while feeding, similar to the House Finch.
  • Cassin’s Finches have a lifespan of about 4 to 6 years in the wild.

Red Crossbill

Description

The Red Crossbill is a unique-looking bird with a stout body and a distinctive crossed bill. The bill is adapted for extracting seeds from conifer cones, with the upper and lower mandibles crossing at the tip. Males are mostly red, with various shades ranging from orange to reddish-purple. Females have a more muted plumage, with a greenish-yellow color and hints of red on their head and chest.

Habitat

Red Crossbills can be found across North America, primarily in coniferous forests. They are highly adaptable birds and can also be seen in woodland edges, open forests, and even urban areas with suitable coniferous trees. They are most commonly found in areas with abundant conifer cone crops.

Feeding Habits

As their name suggests, Red Crossbills have a specialized feeding habit of extracting seeds from conifer cones. They use their crossed bill to wedge open the scales of the cones and extract the seeds. This adaptation allows them to access a food source that is not accessible to many other bird species.

Migration Patterns

Red Crossbills have irregular migration patterns that are closely tied to the availability of conifer cone crops. They may undertake long-distance movements in search of abundant cone crops, but these movements are unpredictable and can vary greatly from year to year.

Interesting Facts

  • The crossed bill of the Red Crossbill is a unique adaptation that allows them to feed on conifer seeds that are tightly packed within cones.
  • There are several distinct call types within the Red Crossbill species, each associated with a specific geographic region.
  • Red Crossbills often breed twice a year, taking advantage of the abundant food supply provided by conifer cone crops.
  • These birds are highly gregarious and often form large flocks, especially during the non-breeding season.
  • Red Crossbills have a lifespan of about 5 to 7 years in the wild.

17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

Pine Grosbeak

Description

The Pine Grosbeak is a large, chunky bird with a plump body and a thick bill. Males have a vibrant rosy-red head, chest, and back, while females have a more muted plumage with grayish-brown feathers and hints of red on their head and chest.

Habitat

Pine Grosbeaks can be found across North America, primarily in the northern parts of the continent. They are often associated with boreal forests and coniferous habitats, where they feed on the abundant seeds of conifer trees. They can also be found in mountainous regions during the breeding season.

Feeding Habits

Pine Grosbeaks have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, buds, and insects. They are particularly fond of the seeds from pine and spruce trees, which provide a nutritious food source. During the breeding season, they also feed on insects, which provide essential protein for raising their young.

Migration Patterns

Pine Grosbeaks are semi-irruptive migrants, meaning their migration patterns are influenced by food availability. In years when food sources are scarce in their breeding range, they may move south in search of more abundant food. Their movements can be unpredictable and vary from year to year.

Interesting Facts

  • The flight of the Pine Grosbeak is characterized by deep, slow wingbeats and a rolling flight pattern.
  • These birds have a melodious, flute-like song that is often described as sweet and mellow.
  • Pine Grosbeaks are highly social birds and often gather in flocks, especially during the non-breeding season.
  • They build cup-shaped nests in trees using twigs, grass, and other plant materials. The female is primarily responsible for nest building.
  • Pine Grosbeaks have a lifespan of about 3 to 4 years in the wild.

Northern Cardinal

Description

The Northern Cardinal is a medium-sized bird with a distinctive crest on its head. Males have a bright red plumage, while females have a more muted brown color with hints of red on their wings and tail. Both males and females have a prominent black mask around their eyes.

Habitat

Northern Cardinals can be found across much of North America, from southern Canada to Mexico. They are often associated with woodland edges, shrublands, and gardens. They are common visitors to backyard feeders, where they can be seen feeding on seeds and fruits.

Feeding Habits

Northern Cardinals have a varied diet that includes seeds, fruits, insects, and spiders. They are adept at cracking open seeds using their strong bills and can often be seen feeding on sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and other types of birdseed. They also feed on fruits, particularly in the winter when other food sources are scarce.

Migration Patterns

Northern Cardinals are generally non-migratory birds, meaning they do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some individuals may exhibit short-distance movements in search of suitable breeding grounds or food sources. Overall, they are resident birds that can be found in their breeding range year-round.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Northern Cardinal is a loud, clear whistle that is often described as sounding like “cheer, cheer, cheer”.
  • These birds are highly territorial and will defend their breeding territory against other birds, often engaging in aggressive displays.
  • Northern Cardinals are monogamous and form pair bonds that can last for multiple breeding seasons.
  • They are one of the few bird species where the female sings, often responding to the male’s song with a softer, more subdued version.
  • Northern Cardinals have a lifespan of about 3 years in the wild, although some individuals have been known to live up to 15 years.

17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

Pyrrhuloxia

Description

The Pyrrhuloxia, also known as the Desert Cardinal, is a medium-sized bird with a crest on its head. Males have a bright red head and chest, with a gray back and wings. Females have a reddish-brown plumage, with hints of red on their head and chest.

Habitat

Pyrrhuloxias can be found in the southwestern parts of the United States and Mexico. They are often associated with desert habitats, including desert scrub and thornscrub. They are less commonly found in residential areas compared to Northern Cardinals.

Feeding Habits

Pyrrhuloxias have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, insects, and spiders. They are well-adapted to the arid desert environment and can survive on the seeds of desert plants. They also feed on fruits, particularly in the winter when other food sources are scarce.

Migration Patterns

Pyrrhuloxias are generally non-migratory birds, meaning they do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some individuals may exhibit short-distance movements in search of suitable breeding grounds or food sources. Overall, they are resident birds that can be found in their breeding range year-round.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Pyrrhuloxia is a mixture of whistles and trills, similar to the song of the Northern Cardinal.
  • These birds are highly adaptable and can survive in harsh desert environments with limited water and food resources.
  • Pyrrhuloxias build cup-shaped nests in shrubs and cacti, using twigs, grass, and other plant materials.
  • They are well-camouflaged birds that blend in with their desert surroundings, making them difficult to spot.
  • Pyrrhuloxias have a lifespan of about 3 years in the wild, although some individuals have been known to live longer.

Summer Tanager

Description

The Summer Tanager is a small bird with a slender body and a slightly curved bill. Males have a vibrant red plumage, while females have a more subdued yellowish-green color. During the breeding season, males can sometimes appear almost scarlet in color.

Habitat

Summer Tanagers can be found across the southern parts of the United States, as well as parts of Mexico and Central America. They prefer woodland habitats, including deciduous forests, riparian areas, and mixed woodlands. They are less commonly found in open areas and urban environments.

Feeding Habits

Summer Tanagers are insect-eating birds and primarily feed on flying insects, such as bees, wasps, beetles, and dragonflies. They catch insects on the wing using their acrobatic flying skills. During the breeding season, they may also feed on fruits and berries.

Migration Patterns

Summer Tanagers undertake long-distance migrations, traveling from their breeding grounds in the United States to their wintering grounds in Central America and northern South America. They are neotropical migrants, meaning they spend the breeding season in North America and migrate to the tropics for the winter.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Summer Tanager is a series of rich, melodious notes that resemble the song of the American Robin.
  • These birds are known for their unique foraging behavior, which includes catching insects mid-air and hovering like a hummingbird.
  • Summer Tanagers are monogamous and form pair bonds that last for the breeding season.
  • They build cup-shaped nests in trees and shrubs using twigs, grass, and spider silk to bind the materials together.
  • Summer Tanagers have a lifespan of about 8 to 10 years in the wild.

17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

Western Tanager

Description

The Western Tanager is a medium-sized bird with a slender body and a slightly curved bill. Males have a bright yellow head and chest, with black wings and back. Females have a more muted plumage, with a dull yellow color and hints of gray on their wings and back.

Habitat

Western Tanagers can be found across western North America, from Alaska to Mexico. They prefer coniferous and mixed forests, as well as open woodlands with a dense understory. They are less commonly found in urban areas compared to some other tanagers.

Feeding Habits

Western Tanagers primarily feed on insects, including beetles, bees, wasps, and ants. They catch insects on the wing using their acrobatic flying skills. During the breeding season, they may also feed on fruits and berries.

Migration Patterns

Western Tanagers undertake long-distance migrations, traveling from their breeding grounds in western North America to their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. They are neotropical migrants, meaning they spend the breeding season in North America and migrate to the tropics for the winter.

Interesting Facts

  • The song of the Western Tanager is a series of musical notes that is often described as hoarse or robin-like.
  • These birds are highly social and often gather in flocks outside of the breeding season, sometimes mixed with other species.
  • Western Tanagers have a unique molt pattern, where they replace their yellow plumage with duller green feathers during the non-breeding season.
  • They build cup-shaped nests in trees and shrubs using twigs, grass, and other plant materials.
  • Western Tanagers have a lifespan of about 5 to 7 years in the wild.

Downy Woodpecker

Description

The Downy Woodpecker is a small bird with a compact body and a short bill. Males have a black and white pattern on their back and wings, with a small red patch on the back of their head. Females have a similar pattern, but without the red patch. They are one of the smallest woodpecker species in North America.

Habitat

Downy Woodpeckers can be found across North America, from Alaska to Mexico. They are adaptable birds that can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, parks, and even urban areas. They are more commonly found in areas with mature trees.

Feeding Habits

Downy Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, and spiders. They use their sharp beaks to peck at tree bark and probe for insects hiding underneath. They also eat seeds and fruits, particularly in the winter when insects are scarce.

Migration Patterns

Downy Woodpeckers are generally non-migratory birds, meaning they do not undertake long-distance migrations. However, some individuals may exhibit seasonal movements in search of food or suitable breeding grounds. Overall, they are resident birds that can be found in their breeding range year-round.

Interesting Facts

  • The drumming sound produced by the Downy Woodpecker is often used as a territorial display and to attract mates.
  • These birds are highly adaptable and can adjust their feeding behavior to take advantage of available food sources.
  • Downy Woodpeckers excavate their own nest cavities in dead or decaying trees, using their sharp beaks to create a hole.
  • They have a unique adaptation that helps protect their brain from the impact of pecking. The bones in their skull are spongy, which absorbs shock and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Downy Woodpeckers have a lifespan of about 6 to 12 years in the wild.

In conclusion, the United States and Canada are home to a diverse range of birds with red heads. These birds vary in size, habitat preferences, feeding habits, and migration patterns. From the common House Finch to the elusive Red Crossbill, each species has its own unique characteristics that make it fascinating to observe. Whether you spot them at your backyard feeder or deep in the wilderness, birds with red heads are sure to capture your attention and add a splash of color to the natural world around you.

17 Birds with Red Heads in North America

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