Finches and Tanagers are often red birds that you can spot, but there are several different species to learn.
There are 10 species of red birds in Virginia that have been spotted. Of these, 7 species are recognized on state checklists as regularly occurring, 2 additional species are considered rare or accidental, and one more is regarded as an introduced species.
This guide will help you identify the species of red birds in Virginia according to avibase. Some of these birds migrate, and some remain all year.
You can print out a freebird identification worksheet for Virginia to help you identify all birds that visit your backyard.
The most common red bird in both summer and winter in Virginia is the Northern Cardinal. The Scarlet Tanager is more commonly seen in summer, and several other species are more commonly seen in winter in Virginia. Continue reading to find out more about these red birds.
10 Red Birds in Virginia:
- Northern Cardinal
- House Finch
- Scarlet Tanager
- Purple Finch
- Summer Tanager
- Red Crossbill
- Painted Bunting
- White-winged Crossbill
- Common Redpoll
- Pine Grosbeak
10 Red Birds in Virginia:
1. Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinals are very common red birds in Virginia all year.
The bright red male Northern Cardinal is a bird with a red head, body, and tail, and black around their faces. They are an incredible sight, especially against a white winter background. The females are also showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.
- Length: 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm)
- Weight: 1.5-1.7 oz (42-48 g)
- Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm)
Northern Cardinals are found in eastern and southern states and will sometimes attack their reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.
You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.
They will feed on large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.
2. House Finch
House Finches are considered an introduced species in Virginia, and they can be spotted in the state all year.
House Finches are another bird with a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females.
- Length: 5.1-5.5 in (13-14 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-0.9 oz (16-27 g)
- Wingspan: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)
Originally only in western states, it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.
They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They can be found in noisy groups that are hard to miss.
You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.
3. Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanagers are beautiful red birds to spot in Virginia during summer.
Scarlet Tanagers are bright red birds with black wings and tails. Females are yellow with darker wings and tails.
- Piranga olivacea
- Length: 6.3-6.7 in (16-17 cm)
- Weight: 0.8-1.3 oz (23-38 g)
- Wingspan: 9.8-11.4 in (25-29 cm)
They breed in eastern forests in summer before migrating to South America.
Scarlet Tanagers can be hard to spot as they stay high in the forest canopy.
You can attract more Scarlet Tanagers by planting berry plants such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, juneberries, serviceberries, mulberries, strawberries, and chokeberries.
4. Purple Finch
Purple Finches are fun red birds that can be seen in Virginia mainly between October and May.
Purple Finches look very similar to House Finch with the reddish-purple head and breast with more brown on the back and wings.
- Length: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6-1.1 oz (18-32 g)
- Wingspan: 8.7-10.2 in (22-26 cm)
They breed in Canada and overwinter in eastern states but can be found all year in the north-east are Pacific coast.
You can spot them in evergreen forests feeding on seeds and buds, nectar, and berries.
They readily come to feeders for black oil sunflower seeds.
5. Summer Tanager
Summer Tanagers are vibrant red birds in Virginia, and they can be spotted in the state between May and October.
Summer Tanager males are bright red birds, and females are yellow.
- Piranga rubra
- Length: 6.7 in (17 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 oz (30 g)
They breed in southern and eastern states before heading to Central and South America for winter.
They are forest songbirds found in open woodlands and feed on bees and wasps in mid-flight. They catch them and kill them by beating them against a branch and rubbing the stinger off before eating them.
You can attract more Summer Tanagers to your backyard with berry bushes and fruit trees.
6. Red Crossbill
Although quite rare in Virginia, Red Crossbills are residents of the state all year.
Red Crossbill males are red birds with darker wings and tails. Females are yellow and brown.
They can be found year-round in northern and western states and winter in eastern states.
They feed on conifer seeds and forage in flocks from tree to tree, even breaking unopened cones with their powerful beaks. As well as coniferous forests, they can be found along roadsides consuming grit in the mornings.
7. Painted Bunting
Painted Buntings are rare red birds in Virginia, but they have been spotted mainly along the state’s coast.
Painted Bunting males are a brightly colored patchwork of color with mostly red coloring underneath and with bright blue heads, green wings, and backs. Females are bright yellow-green.
- Passerina ciris
- Length: 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm)
- Weight: 0.5-0.7 oz (13-19 g)
Painted Bunting breed in a few states, in the south-central and some coastal areas in the Southeast US, before migrating at night to Central America, southern Florida, and some Caribbean islands.
You can find Painted Bunting in semi-open habitats, mainly foraging for seeds and insects in the breeding season.
To attract painted Bunting to your yard, try adding low, dense vegetation, and feeders filled with white millet or black oil sunflower seeds.
8. White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbills are considered an accidental or rare species in Virginia. They are hard to spot, but a few have been seen in Fairfax and around Richmond City.
White-winged Crossbills are finches with heavy crossed beaks. Males are red birds with black wings and tails and two white wingbars. Females are yellow and brown and with two white wing bars.
- Loxia leucoptera
- Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
- Weight: 0.8-0.9 oz (24-26 g)
- Wingspan: 10.2-11.0 in (26-28 cm)
White-winged Crossbills live in forests in Canada, Alaska, and sometimes the northern US states when cone crops are poor further north. They can be found in spruce forests feeding on seeds.
Unusually these birds breed at any time of year as long as there is enough food.
They can often be heard in large flocks.
9. Common Redpoll
Common Redpolls are rare in Virginia, but they have been spotted along the coast during winter.
Common Redpolls have red foreheads, pinky breasts, and brown and white over the rest of their bodies.
- Acanthis flammea
- Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
- Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
- Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
They can be found in winter in northern states and less frequently in central states.
In winter, they will sometimes tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. They can eat up to 42% of their body mass every day and can store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchy part of their esophagus.
They can be found in weedy fields or feeding on catkins in trees, but they will also come to feeders for small seeds such as nyjer seeds or thistle.
10. Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeaks are considered an accidental or rare species in Virginia, and they have only been spotted in the state four times.
Pine Grosbeaks are a species of finch. The males are red birds with gray on the wings and tail and two white wingbars. Females are gray with dull orange heads and rumps. They are large for finches and relatively slow.
- Pinicola enucleator
- Length: 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm)
- Wingspan: 13.0 in (33 cm)
Pine Grosbeaks are primarily found in Canada, but some can be spotted along the US border, the mountainous west, and the Sierra Nevada in California.
They live in forests of pine, spruce, and fir, feeding on seeds, fruit, and buds from these trees. They will also eat some insects in the summer.
You can attract Pine Grosbeaks to black oil sunflower seed feeders or suet feeders.
How Frequently Red birds are Spotted in Virginia in Summer and Winter
Checklists for the state are a great resource to find out which birds are commonly spotted here. These lists show which red birds are most commonly recorded on checklists for Virginia on ebird in summer and winter.
Common Red Birds in Virginia in Summer:
Northern Cardinal 63.5%
House Finch 24.9%
Scarlet Tanager 14.4%
Summer Tanager 6.1%
Purple Finch 0.2%
Red Crossbill 0.2%
Painted Bunting <0.1%
Common Red Birds in Virginia in Winter:
Northern Cardinal 55.3%
House Finch 27.1%
Purple Finch 3.8%
Painted Bunting 0.1%
Red Crossbill 0.1%
Common Redpoll <0.1%
White-winged Crossbill <0.1%
Summer Tanager <0.1%
Scarlet Tanager <0.1%
Pine Grosbeak <0.1%
With its distinct red feathers, or plumage, its deep orange beak, and a crest that resembles a well-groomed mohawk, the presence of the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in Northern Virginia is unmistakable. The Northern Cardinal is Virginia's state bird.What bird is bright red? ›
The northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is one of the most familiar red songbirds in North America, so familiar that it has been honored as the state bird of seven states. Male northern cardinals are brilliantly red all over with a contrasting black facial mask, and even the bill is red.What does red birds mean spiritually? ›
Red birds symbolize passion, courage, war, violence, health, well-being, culture, and tradition. Although there are many red birds with many different symbols, they all have one thing in common: their bold and passionate nature.Are scarlet tanagers in Virginia? ›
A common summer resident at the park and throughout Virginia's pine and oak forests, Piranga olivacea is the only North American red bird with black wings and a black tail. Females are yellow-green.What bird is red but not a cardinal? ›
Summer tanagers are all red birds, without the black wings and tail of the scarlet tanager, and no black eye mask like cardinals. Look for them in southern states. They are not as numerous as cardinals, so spotting one is an exciting find for bird-watchers. Discover 8 surprising facts about tanagers.What are those little red birds called? ›
The vermilion flycatcher is a striking example among birds that are red. This tiny bird is a member of the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae. The first half of its name, vermilion, refers to the bright vermillion-red color on the breast, belly, and crest of the males.What bird is all red with black wings? ›
Male Scarlet Tanagers are among the most blindingly gorgeous birds in an eastern forest in summer, with blood-red bodies set off by jet-black wings and tail.How many types of birds are red? ›
There are 25 birds in the United States that are considered “red.” For the purpose of this article, I include primarily red and partially red birds. Fortunately, many species of RED birds visit bird feeders, so you have a chance of attracting them to your yard.What attracts cardinals to your yard? ›
Natural fruits that attract these birds include blueberry bushes, mulberry trees, and other dark-colored berries. Bird seeds that have been known to attract Cardinals include black oil sunflower, cracked corn, suet, Nyjer® seed, mealworms, peanuts, safflower, striped sunflower, and sunflower hearts and chips.What does a red bird mean in the Bible? ›
The red cardinal is a spiritual messenger from God. The red cardinal is representative of one of departed loved ones attempting contact. When a red cardinal hits a window, it is a bad sign representing death. The red cardinal represents the blood of Christ.
The sight of a red bird is often seen as a good omen because of the symbolic meanings associated with this color. Seeing a red bird could suggest that there is still hope for something, or that the situation has changed for the better. It could also represent change, prosperity, or good luck.What does a red Tanger look like? ›
Measurements. In spring and summer, adult males are an unmistakable, brilliant red with black wings and tails. Females and fall immatures are olive-yellow with darker olive wings and tails. After breeding, adult males molt to female-like plumage, but with black wings and tail.What does a red tanager bird look like? ›
Adult male Summer Tanagers are entirely bright red. Females and immature males are bright yellow-green—yellower on the head and underparts and slightly greener on the back and wings. The bill is pale. Molting immature males can be patchy yellow and red.What kind of bird is red with black wings and a black tail? ›
Scarlet Tanagers are a beautifully colored bird. The male's breeding plumage is red on the body and black on the wings and tail.What bird looks like a female cardinal but has a black beak? ›
Although the shape and size of the phainopepla is very similar to the cardinal, the coloring is not as the phainopepla is totally black in color. It also has a charcoal beak and a shorter black crown.
Breeding male Scarlet Tanagers are brilliant red like adult male Northern Cardinals, but they have black wings and a black tail.What bird is red from angry birds? ›
The Red Angry Bird is a Northern Cardinal--that's a total no brainer and makes sense. Having had more than one cardinal in my hand, that hard beak is no lie. They are truly angry birds and capable of nasty bites. The Yellow Angry Bird is an American Goldfinch.Do cardinals mate for life? ›
Cardinals are monogamous birds that pair up for a year or longer, although some couples mate for life. During courtship, males prove their strength by finding seeds for the female and feeding them to her one at a time, from his beak to hers. This courtship display looks a lot like kissing.What's the difference between a cardinal bird and a red bird? ›
As it relates to red birds, the primary difference between a red bird and the male cardinal is the crown. The male cardinal is the only red bird with raised crown feathers that stands full and tall. Another difference between a red bird and the male cardinal is their size.What kind of bird looks like a cardinal but is gray? ›
Overall, Pyrrhuloxias are gray or gray-brown birds with prominent flashes of red. Males are crisp gray with a red face and crest, a red stripe running down the breast, and a reddish tail. Females are buffy gray, with less red than males. Both sexes have yellowish bills and reddish highlights in the wings.
The most common red-feathered birds are northern cardinals, house finches, vermilion flycatchers, red factor canaries, summer tanagers, pine grosbeaks, scarlet tanagers, scarlet ibises, two barred crossbills, crimson rosellas, and more.What bird is red with a blue head? ›
Male Painted Buntings are known for their technicolor plumage – a red breast, eye ring, and rump, a blue head and yellow-green back.Is there a red Finch? ›
Red finches are birds that live throughout the United States and down into Mexico. These tiny birds have a beautiful song full of trills, chirps and rolling warbles. The male red finch is notable for the bright red feathers on his head and breast.What kind of bird is black with a red back? ›
Measurements. Male Red-winged Blackbirds are hard to mistake. They're an even glossy black with red-and-yellow shoulder badges. Females are crisply streaked and dark brownish overall, paler on the breast and often show a whitish eyebrow.Which bird has red back? ›
The red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus) is an Asian lapwing or large plover, a wader in the family Charadriidae. Like other lapwings they are ground birds that are incapable of perching.Is Scarlet Tanager rare? ›
Male Scarlet Tanagers seem almost too bright and exotic for northeastern woodlands. These birds are fairly common in oak forests in summer, but they often remain out of sight as they forage in the leafy upper branches.What does a female red bird look like? ›
Females are pale brown overall with warm reddish tinges in the wings, tail, and crest. They have the same black face and red-orange bill. Northern Cardinals tend to sit low in shrubs and trees or forage on or near the ground, often in pairs.What color is the female red bird? ›
Although lacking the brilliant red plumage of the male, the female cardinal has an elegant beauty all her own, with a warm, buffy tan color over her back, breast, and sides; red-orange on the wings, tail, and crown; and a blackish “mask.” Female cardinals also have a crest and a chunky red-orange bill, traits they ...What does it mean when you see two cardinals? ›
Meaning of Seeing Two Cardinals
This is a positive omen for everlasting true love. If you see two red cardinals, it's two males. This can also symbolize love. It can also symbolize friendly competition and be a sign to up your game – improve an area of your life and do it better.
Safflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, and white milo are among a Northern Cardinal's favorite seed options. In addition to large seeds, Cardinals enjoy eating crushed peanuts, cracked corn, and berries. During the winter, small chunks of suet are another great choice.
Some of the cardinals' favorite trees include mulberry, serviceberry, flowering dogwood, crabapple, and spruce. Shrubs at the top of their feeding list include staghorn sumac, red-osier dogwood, gray dogwood, and viburnum species.What time of day do cardinals feed? ›
They're usually the first birds at the feeder in the morning and the last ones to feed at dusk. Because cardinals eat so early in the morning and so late at dusk, they seem to have plenty of time for singing during the midday while other birds are feeding.Is seeing a red bird good luck? ›
This majestic bird is also the center of many beliefs. Many people believe the sighting of a cardinal can be a sign of good luck, loyalty, or even a spiritual message. Native American lore states if a cardinal is seen, it is believed that individual will have good luck within 12 days of the sighting.What is the old saying about seeing a red bird? ›
There is an old folklore saying that, “When a cardinal appears in your yard, it's a visitor from heaven.” People often wonder what it means when God sends a cardinal to their yard. Let's take a look at the legacy of this quote and the memorial tributes it has inspired.When you see a cardinal An angel is near? ›
Many people believe when a cardinal lands in your yard, an angel is near. Cardinals can remind you of a departed loved one and are known as the most notable spiritual messenger.What does it mean when you see a cardinal fly in front of you? ›
What does it mean when cardinals fly in front of you? Many Native Americans believe seeing cardinals means you'll have good luck within the next 12 hours or 12 days.What does it mean when a red cardinal visits you everyday? ›
A Message From Beyond
“People have often reported that after the death of their near loved ones, they begin to see cardinals frequently,” she says. “Seeing a cardinal for the first time or more frequently than usual can be an indication from your loved one that they will always feel your love and will be near you.”
According to Charles, seeing a cardinal can indicate a bold change wanting to occur in your life. Whatever that change may be for you, she says, "Cardinal invites you to trust your evolutionary processes and trust yourself that you can go right to the epicenter of this change and embrace it."Are brown thrashers rare? ›
Although the species spends most of its time close to the ground, the male Brown Thrasher sometimes will deliver its rich, melodious song of doubled phrases from the top of a tall tree. Declining numbers have been noted in some regions; the species remains widespread and common in most areas.Are Northern mockingbirds aggressive? ›
The Northern Mockingbird is aggressive throughout the year. Females typically fend off other female mockingbirds, while males confront male intruders. Males disputing territory boundaries fly toward each other, land near the boundary, and face off, silently hopping from one side to another.
Baltimore Orioles are the most commonly seen oriole in Virginia. And luckily, these birds are relatively easy to attract to your bird feeders, as long as you use the foods they enjoy eating.Are rose breasted grosbeaks in Virginia? ›
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are found in Southwest Virginia during the summer; the rest of the state only sees them during their annual migration between Central / South America and the northeast, the plains states, and a swath of Canada.What Does a female thrasher look like? ›
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE. Male and female brown thrashers look alike. Their heads, bodies, and tails are a brownish, rust color. Their bellies are white with black, teardrop-shaped markings.What does a Wren look like? ›
Small, nondescript brown bird with a short tail, thin bill, and dark barring on wings and tail with a paler throat.What kind of bird is rust colored? ›
Brown Thrashers are foxy brown birds with heavy, dark streaking on their whitish underparts. The face is gray-brown and the wings show two black-and-white wingbars. They have bright-yellow eyes. Brown Thrashers skulk in shrubby tangles or forage on the ground below dense cover.What does it mean when a mockingbird visits you? ›
The most common interpretation of a mockingbird omen is self-expression. If you've been encountering these birds too often lately, it means that perhaps you don't express yourself enough.Can a mockingbird hurt a dog? ›
Northern Mockingbirds are known to harass dogs and cats found in their territory by constantly diving and swooping at them.Do mockingbirds mate for life? ›
11. Male and Female Mockingbirds Usually Mate for Life. Mockingbirds are monogamous and generally select only one partner to mate with for life. Male mockingbirds may mate with a few other females within their lifetime, but this is a rare occurrence.Are there red winged blackbirds in Virginia? ›
Red-winged blackbirds are the third most frequently spotted blackbirds in Virginia during summer and the second-most during winter. They appear in 27% of checklists in summer, and some will migrate, so they appear in only 13% of checklists in winter here.What does an Oriole look like? ›
Adult males are flame-orange and black, with a solid-black head and one white bar on their black wings. Females and immature males are yellow-orange on the breast, grayish on the head and back, with two bold white wing bars.
The birds occasionally take sunflower seed and suet, but they prefer sweeter fare. Oranges attract and give orioles a healthy food source. Some bird feeders are designed to serve orange halves, but simply putting orange halves, fruit-side up, on a deck railing or platform feeder works equally well.What small bird has a red breast? ›
Male Painted Buntings are known for their technicolor plumage – a red breast, eye ring, and rump, a blue head and yellow-green back.What small birds have red breasts? ›
- 1 House Finch.
- 2 Purple Finch.
- 3 Cassin's Finch.
- 4 Common Linnet.
- 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
- 6 Pine Grosbeak.
- 7 Vermilion Flycatcher.
- 8 Common Redpoll.
The red-breasted sapsucker belongs to the sapsucker genus Sphyrapicus, which is part of the woodpecker family Picidae. These birds with red chests live in forests along the west coast of Canada, the United States, and Baja California.