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10 Red Birds in Pennsylvania (with Photos)

With lush forests, picturesque mountains, rolling farmland, and scenic waterways, Pennsylvania has a diverse range of habitats. These habitats are home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of red bird. In this article we will look at 10 of the most prominent red-colored birds in Pennsylvania. Some have more red than others and some have brighter red colors. 

10 Red Birds in Pennsylvania

The red bird species found in Pennsylvania that we added to this list include the northern cardinal, scarlet tanager, summer tanager, house finch, purple finch, red crossbill, white-winged crossbill, common redpoll, red-headed woodpecker and rose-breasted grosbeak.  

1. Northern Cardinal

Image: Jean Beaufort |

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

The northern cardinal is a medium-sized songbird, measuring 8.3 and 9.1 inches long. This species can be found throughout much of the United States, including Pennsylvania, where they live year-round.

Male cardinals are bright red with black masks on their faces. The females are brown with deeper red hues on their wings and tails. Males and females have a distinctive crest on the top of their heads.

Cardinals primarily feed on seeds, berries, and fruits. They have a strong, thick bill that is well-suited for cracking open seeds. They are common visitors to backyard bird feeders. 

2. House Finch

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus

House finches have compact, plump bodies and small beaks. The adult males have a red or rosy hue on their head, breast, and rump, while the rest of their body is brown or grayish. The adult females have brown or grayish-brown overall plumage with streaking.

Both sexes have slightly notched tails and wings with brown feathers. In Pennsylvania, 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.

The breeding season for house finches is usually from early spring through summer. The females lay 2-6 eggs, with both parents taking care of the young once they hatch 13 to 14 days later.

3. Scarlet Tanager


Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea

Male scarlet tanagers have vibrant scarlet bodies with contrasting black wings and tails during the breeding season. The females are yellowish-green all over, which helps them blend in with the leaves when nesting. 

This species can be found in Pennsylvania during the summer months, where they nest up in the tall canopies of mature woods. The females build the nests and lay pale blue-green eggs. While she incubates the eggs for two weeks, the male brings her food.

Both parents take care of the young until they leave the nest around 12 days after they hatch. After the breeding season, the male molts again, changing back into his yellow-green feathers before heading to South America for the winter.

4. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Image: Linda Jones |

Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

The red-headed woodpecker is a striking bird found statewide. They are fairly large, measuring 7 and 8 inches long, with wingspans up to 14 inches. As their name suggests, they have a solid red head and neck, contrasting sharply with their glossy black back, and white undersides.

Red-headed woodpeckers use their strong bills to hammer into the trunks of trees to get the insects inside the bark. They aren’t as common in suburban areas, so you may have to head toward the woods to find them. However they do reside year-round throughout Pennsylvania. You may be able to attract them to a backyard feeder, especially during the winter, with suet, acorns, beechnuts, pecans or fruits. 

5. Red Crossbill

Red-Crossbill (male) | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Loxia curvirostra

Red crossbills are between 5.5 and 6.5 inches long and have a distinctive crossed bill. The upper and lower parts of the beak cross over each other at the tips. These crossed bills are specialized to help the species extract seeds from the cones of spruces, hemlocks, pines, and other conifers.

The male red crossbill has a red chest and body with brown wings and tail. This red bird shows up in Pennsylvania when the cone crops are particularly abundant or when the crops in their normal foraging areas don’t yield as much. 

6. Purple Finch

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

Scientific Name: Haemorhous purpureus

Don’t let the name fool you. Purple finches are not actually purple. Instead, the males are a deep raspberry red on their heads and breasts with brown and cream-colored feathers on their wings and tails. Usually much of their body is stained this raspberry hue.

Females lack the red coloring and have heavy brown streaks on their underside. Purple finches can be found primarily in the northern parts of Pennsylvania, but in the winter months, some individuals travel to the more southern regions. 

7. 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 in Pennsylvania, white-winged crossbills have been reported during the winter months, especially in irruptive years. Irruptive years refer to the years when conifer yields where the birds are common are not enough to sustain them, so they must travel to other areas in search of food. The male white-winged crossbill is a beautiful shade of red on its back, head, and chest with black wings.

Each wing has two distinct white bars, which is where the bird gets its name. 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. 

8. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus

The male rose-breasted grosbeak is known for its eye-catching plumage. It has a black head, back, and wings, but the real beauty lies in the vibrant rose-colored feathers on its chest. Females, on the other hand, have a more subtle appearance, with a streaked brownish plumage and a pale, buff-colored breast.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are medium-sized birds, measuring about 7 to 8 inches, with wingspans between 11 and 13 inches. This species can be found statewide during the breeding season, arriving between late April and May and staying until late August and September.  

9. Common Redpoll

male 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 grows between 5 and 6 inches long. They have a stocky build with a round head and a short, stubby bill. Both sexes have a red spot on their head, but only the males have a rosy pink wash on their chest and sides. 

During the winter, some populations of common redpolls undergo irruptive movements, meaning they travel further south in search of food. This is when you might get a glimpse of the common redpoll in Pennsylvania. 

10. Summer Tanager

Adult Male
Summer Tanager Plumage Colors

Scientific Name: Piranga rubra

Another tanager species that sometimes reaches as far north as Pennsylvania is the summer tanager. Adult males of this species are completely red, making them quite a sight for bird enthusiasts. Female summer tanagers and immature males can range in color from yellowish-green to bright orange.

Like scarlet tanagers, summer tanagers spend the winter months further south in Central and South America. But, during the summer breeding season, you can find these beauties in mature forest regions throughout the southeastern U.S. Pennsylvania is just above their northern range, so you may see them in southern portions of the state or in other places sporadically.