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11 Red Birds in New York (with Photos)

New York, often referred to as the Empire State, is located in the northeastern part of the United States. The state is divided into several distinct regions, including the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, the Hudson Valley, and the Great Lakes region. New York is home to many different bird species, including several red birds. Some are year-round residents, while others migrate to the state to breed or in search of food. This article will give you more information about the types of red birds in New York. 

11 Red Birds in New York

New York is home to several red bird species, including the northern cardinal, house finch, scarlet tanager, common redpoll, pine grossbeak, purple finch, red crossbill, red-Bellied woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, rose-breasted grosbeak, and white-winged crossbill. 

1. Northern Cardinal

male northern cardinal
Northern Cardinal (male) | image by:

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Perhaps the most recognizable bird on this list, the northern cardinal is a red bird found throughout much of the eastern United States, including New York. The males of this species have bright red bodies and a black mask around their eyes.

The females are a rusty brown color with tinges of red on their wings and tails. Both sexes have a distinctive crest on the top of their heads and a short, thick orange-red beak. These vibrant birds can be found in New York all year round, and will readily visit backyard feeders with sunflower seeds.

2. House Finch

house finch male
House Finch (male) | image by:

Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus

House finches have compact, plump bodies and small beaks. They are brown with a light, streaked chest. Only the adult males have red coloration on their head and chest. This can vary from bird to bird, with some males only displaying a light wash of red while others having quite a lot. 

In New York, House Finches are common and can be found year-round throughout the state in many different habitats, including urban areas, suburbs, open woodlands, parks, and gardens.

3. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager foraging
Male Scarlet Tanager foraging | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarre via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea

One of the most striking red birds in New York is the scarlet tanager. The males have vibrant scarlet feathers on their bodies with contrasting jet-black wings and tails. The females are yellowish-green with dark tones on their wings and tails.

This species spends the winter months in Central and South America and then migrates further north for the breeding season. They usually arrive in New York in the late spring or early summer. You’re more likely to see these birds walking through a wooded area than in a backyard, as they like to stick to the cover of the tree canopy.

4. Common Redpoll

common redpoll
Common Redpoll (male) | image by Tom Koerner/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

Scientific Name: Acanthis flammea

The common redpoll is a small finch species that is primarily covered with brown streaks. Both sexes have a distinct, bright red patch of feathers on the top of their heads, and the males develop rosy-red coloring on their breasts during the breeding season.

This species spends much of its time further north, but during the winter, they can be seen when they come to New York searching for food. Look for them traveling in mixed flocks of other finches. They will visit feeders with small seeds and nyjer. They tend to be seen more often in the northern half of the state.  

5. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak | image by dfaulder via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Pinicola enucleator

The pine grosbeak is a larger, plump finch species found in colder regions of the north. They travel slightly further south during the winter, and this is when you are most likely to spot them in New York.  The male’s body is covered with pinkish-red plumage with white and gray streaked wings and tails. Females and immature males have yellow or orange plumage with the same gray-streaked wings.

Pine grosbeaks can be surprisingly tame, letting people get near them without being startled. They typically live in the boreal forests in the furthest reaches of North America, but when food sources are scarce in the winter, they travel further south to places like New York in search of nourishment. So while not common, you may spot them in forested regions in the north of the state or along the western border. 

6. Purple Finch

Purple finch male
Purple Finch | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus

The purple finch can be found in New York year-round. Hearing the name, one might think this bird features purple plumage, but that is not the case. Male purple finches are a beautiful raspberry-red color with brown wings and a white underbelly.

The females are streaked with white and brown feathers. Purple finches are between 5 and 6 inches long and have a pleasant song. This species is fond of black oil sunflower seeds, so having those in your feeder is a great way to attract them to your yard. 

7. Red Crossbill

red crossbill male
Red-crossbill (male) | image by Charles Gates via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Loxia curvirostra

The red crossbill is known for its specialized bill adaptation. Its bill is uniquely criss-crossed at the tip, making it a master at extracting seeds from conifer cones. The males have red to reddish-orange plumage with brown wings and tails.

The females are more subdued olive or yellow tones. Red crossbills spend much of their time in Canada but can be spotted in New York during the winter when conifer cone crops are abundant. 

8. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied woodpecker eating from a platform feeder (Image: Sheila Brown |

Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus

Red-bellied woodpeckers are year-round residents of New York. Despite the name, the hint of red on their bellies is often not very noticeable. However, males and females have bright red feathers along the top and back of their heads. This red really stands out and earned them a place on our list. 

For males, the red extends all the way to their beak, while in females the red stops on the forehead. Their wings are black and white striped, almost like a zebra. Red-bellied woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, but they also consume fruits, nuts, and seeds.

9. Red-Headed Woodpecker

red-headed woodpecker clinging to tree
Red-headed woodpecker | image by Jim Hudgens/USFWS via Flickr

Scientific Name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

The red-headed woodpecker is unmistakable with its vibrant, solid red head and neck, which presents a stark contrast to its black and white blocked body. These birds are between 7 and 10 inches long and have long, sharp beaks.

They use these to hammer into the bark of trees to create nesting holes. This species has a diverse diet that includes insects, fruits, seeds, and nuts. While they don’t visit backyard feeders as readily as the red-bellied woodpecker, they may be attracted during the winter with suet.

10. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

rose breasted grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus

The males of this species are striking birds with black feathers along their backs and heads and white underbellies. They have a distinctive rosy-red triangle-shaped patch on their chests. The females are brown and white streaked with no hint of red.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are long-distance migratory birds that spend their winters in Central and South America. During the breeding season, they migrate further north to places like New York to mate and raise their young. If you provide seeds during the spring and fall, especially on a platform feeder, you may be able to attract them as they are migrating. 

11. White-Winged Crossbill

white winged crossbill
White-winged Crossbill (male) | image by Ryan Mandelbaum via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Loxia leucoptera

While not common extremely common, the range of the white-winged crossbill includes far northern New York year-round, and the rest of the state during the winter. The male white-winged crossbill is a beautiful shade of red on its back, head, and chest with black wings that feature two white bars. Like many of the birds on this list, females are yellow rather than red.

Like the red crossbill, this species has a beak that crosses over itself at the tip to help them break open conifer cones to get to the seeds inside. So if you want to spot them head to forests with spruce or balsam fir.