Arizona is home to a wide array of bird species, from crows to finches, and just about everything else in between. While all these birds are unique in their own right, only a few are red in color. Their red color may make them easier to spot, but that doesn’t mean that all these species are easy to find. Let’s learn about each one and where they can be found.
10 Red Birds In Arizona
The ten red birds you can spot in Arizona include the northern cardinal, summer tanager, vermilion flycatcher, painted redstart, red crossbill, purple finch, painted bunting, red-faced warbler, house finch and hepatic tanager.
1. Northern Cardinal
Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
The northern cardinal may be the most well-known red bird in the U.S. Typically, they aren’t found in the western part of the country, however their range does extend into a small patch of the southwest that includes Arizona. Look for them in the central and southern parts of the state around Phoenix and Tucson.
It’s the males that are red, with a vibrant red body and black eye-mask. Females are a soft brown with hints of red on their wings and tail. Attract them to your yard with bird baths and black sunflower seeds.
2. Summer Tanager
Scientific Name: Piranga rubra
Summer tanagers are a medium-sized songbird that was once a member of the tanager family of birds. In recent years, however, this genus has been reclassified to belong to the cardinal family.
The male summer tanager is almost entirely red, with slightly dusky wings. Females are yellow instead of red. These birds prefer to forage for insects in the treetops, so don’t look for them in desert areas where trees are very scarce. Summer tanagers visit Arizona in the summer, typically from May through August.
3. Vermilion Flycatcher
Scientific Name: Pyrocephalus obscurus
Vermilion flycatchers aren’t found in many U.S. states, but luckily Arizona is one of them. The male vermilion flycatcher is scarlet red with a blackish brown “mask” that goes from their beak, across their eyes, and down their wings and tail. They are often found in desert-like habits, and can typically be seen in the Sonoran Desert.
The female vermilion flycatcher is not as eye-catching, thanks to its grayish brown feathers that are blushed with a subtle red color underneath. These birds are common from Mexico all the way into South America. Some of them will migrate into Arizona for the summer, while others remain in the state year-round.
4. Painted Redstart
Scientific name: Myioborus pictus
The cute little painted redstart has a black body accented with a white wing stripe and white edges on its tail. They also sport a deep red on their chest and belly, and both males and females look the same. These birds are known for flashing the white stripes on their wings and tail while foraging to aid in starting insects out of hiding.
They only come to Arizona to breed in the spring and summer. Their preferred habitat is shady forests in the mountains with oak, pine and juniper. Canyons with permanent sources of water are also great places to find them. One well-known place to see these warblers is the Chiricahua Mountains.
5. Red Crossbill
Scientific Name: Loxia curvirostra
Red crossbill males are about the size of a finch and are covered in red feathers with deeper brown-red wings. Females are more yellow in color with dark wings. They have a unique criss-crossed bill that gives them the ability to break open the cones of conifer trees to get to the seeds within.
Many remain year-round in Arizona, where they feed on larger-coned pine species. Some places to look for them include the forested areas at the top of the Grand Canyon, the forested areas around Flagstaff and the Apache National Forest.
6. Purple Finch
Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus
The purple finch is often described as a sparrow that has been dipped in raspberry juice. It is this purplish red color that makes this bird such a sight to behold. Purple finches are a bit chunkier than common finches and they have a bigger beak. Only males sport the red feathers, while females are streaky and brown.
They are not typically seen in Arizona during the spring and summer months, since they spend their time breeding in the northern parts of North America. When it starts to turn cold, however, the purple finch will migrate to warmer parts of the United States, including Arizona.
7. Painted Bunting
Scientific Name: Passerina ciris
The painted bunting isn’t completely red in color, though it does have a bright red throat, breast, belly and rump. The rest of its body is a kaleidoscope of colors, including a vibrant blue head and green back. This small songbird is migratory, visiting Arizona to breed during the months of May through September.
The preferred habitat of the painted buntings are opened areas and edges of dense forests that have a nearby water source. Unfortunately, these birds are not commonly seen and are actually on the near threatened list. Many of the recorded sightings in Arizona are in the south from Tucson to the border.
8. Red-faced Warbler
Scientific name: Cardellina rubrifrons
These little warblers have a gray back, white belly and scarlet red head with a black stripe running across the top from ear to ear. Mainly found in Mexico, their summer breeding range reaches up into Arizona where you can find them in high-elevation conifer forests. They flit among the branches of pine, fir and oak trees looking for insects and larvae.
9. House Finch
Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
While not completely red, the male house finch still presents obvious red coloring on his head and chest. The shade and intensity of this red color varies by individual. Females have more subdued plumage with streaks of brown and gray, and lack any red hues.
House finches are year-round residents throughout the entire state of Arizona. This species is a common visitor to bird feeders, where they like to snack on seeds, especially sunflower seeds and nyjer.
10. Hepatic Tanager
Scientific name: Piranga flava
Similar to the summer tanager, males of this species are red while females are yellow. They can appear a dusky, grayish red or quite bright. Their main range is in South America, however a small population travels up to the U.S. southwest for the breeding season. Look for them in mountain areas, hanging out and foraging in the tree canopy. They prefer pine, and pine-oak woodlands. Most of the birds that come into the U.S. to breed will leave in the fall, probably to winter in Mexico.