Birds come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colors. Very few animals are as varied when it comes to how they look as birds. Birds rely on each other’s bright plumages to recognize each other because they differ so much between species.
15 Birds with Red Chests
Among the many species of birds living on planet Earth, you can find a group of birds that share one colorful common connection. There are a range of birds that sport a bright red section on their chest. In this brief guide, we’ll talk you through some birds with red chests, helping you to identify any visitors you get in your garden.
The scarlet robin is a small songbird that can be found in Australasia. This little bird from the Petroicidae family lives near the southern Australia coast and through Tasmania. Although they generally prefer to build their nests and live in eucalyptus forests, you can also find them in urban areas and in scrublands.
They earned their name because the males have scarlet-covered breast. While their chest is red, their heads, backs and tails are black. Their foreheads and underparts are white in color.
Scarlet robins can be anywhere from 4.7 to 5.3 inches long and have big, bulbous heads. Their diet consists of spiders and insects, which they catch from the ground. They are highly territorial, fiercely protecting their nests from other birds.
The vermillion flycatcher is perhaps one of the most striking birds with red chests. They live in Mexico, Central America, the United States, and north-western regions of South America. In general, they live solitary lives and will very rarely gather in larger groups outside of breeding season.
The vermillion flycatcher, on average, measures 5.1 to 5.5 inches long, with the males showcasing a spiky crown. As their name suggests, they feed predominantly on flies, but they also eat bees, grasshoppers and beetles.
The female vermillion flycatcher doesn’t have the red chest, so they are harder to identify. It’s the males who have the magnificent plumage with red crowns, necks, chests, and underparts whilst their wings and back are a brown-toned gray.
Also called cut-throats, rose-breasted grosbeaks are members of the cardinal family. During the summer months, they can be found in southern Canada and eastern United States. In the colder winter months, they live in Central America, Mexico and around the Caribbean. The rose-breasted grosbeaks usually live in open woodland areas like parks, gardens, and forests.
This type of bird measures between 7.1 to 8.7 inches long with a wingspan ranging between 11 and 13 inches. Their diet if formed of insects, which they catch as fly, although they can also eat berries and seeds.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks can live for much longer than other songbirds, with one living to 24 years old! They get their name from the v shape rose-red path on the chests of the male. Alongside this bright chest, they have a white belly which stands out from their black feathers.
Painted redstarts are also known as painted whitestarts due to their red chests and contrasting black and white plumage. Painted redstarts can generally be found in the mountainous regions of inland Central America, often near streams and canyons.
They are much larger than other warbler birds, with the average painted redstart measuring between 5.1 to 5.9 inches long. When they hunt, they hop along branches and spread their wings and tails out to keep away any insects.
Another unique aspect of this songbird is that they nest on ground, with both the male and female singing. Unlike many other birds on this list, both the females and the males feature the same red, black and red plumage.
Red-breasted sapsuckers get their name from their red chests and their habit of sucking the sap from a tree. They are part of the woodpecker family, living in forests along the west coast of Canada and the United States.
Red-breasted Sapsucker has a black and white upperpart with prominent white stripes on the black wings. Some species have been known to have a yellow belly. Unusually. The males and females look very similar. Young of the species have the white wing stripes with a mottled brown body
They drill holes in trees, sucking out the sap inside with their long, hair tongues. They also eat seeds, berries and insects that are drawn to the sap around their beaks. This species marks their territory by drumming their beaks.
The painted bunting is one of the most colorful birds you can find in North America. In summer, they head to southern and eastern United States where they breed in the woodlands and thickets near water. In winter, the painted bunting migrates to the borders of tropical forests in southern Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
In general, these red chested birds measure 4.7 to 5.5 inches long with a wingspan between 8.3 to 9.1 inches. They hop along the ground as the feed, living off seeds and small insects. Their male’s colorful plumage appears once they turn one. Alongside a red chest, they have a blue head and a green back.
In general, the painted red chested bunting is shy and secretive, but the males can become aggressive. Their numbers are in decline because when they fight, they can kill each other.
The pyrrhuloxia is a bird with a red chest that often gets confused with a northern cardinal. They like to inhabit arid regions, dense scrublands and mesquite thickets, and can be found in places like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico.
Most pyrrhuloxias measure around 8.3 inches long with short by strong beaks and tall crests. This strong beak is used to eat seeds, fruits, and insects. This species of bird is beloved by cotton farmers as they eat pests like weevils.
The male plumage appears mostly gray-brown with a red face, crest and chest. Their tails and wings also have red streaks to make an impact.
The American robin is one of the most recognizable birds in the country. They live all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. They like to live in cultivated landscapes like farmland and parks as open woodland areas. They have also adapted to the urban area, which is why you see them in your garden so much.
These birds eat mostly a diet of fruits, berries, and insects. When their diet solely features honeysuckle berries, they can become intoxicated. Most American robins measure 9.1 to 11 inches long and sport a wingspan between 12 to 16 inches. Robins are so beloved because they love to sing and have a sweet nature.
Whilst American robins are considered harbingers of spring, they actually breed throughout the winter months, they are just less in view. In the winter months they spent more time roosting in trees and less time in the yard.
There are three different species of Finch birds who live in the US. Whilst all three of them look similar, the house finch stands out for having a red head, chest and rump. Another difference between finches is that it has a relatively shallow notch in its tail.
House finches have small bodies with flat heads and large beaks. Because their wings are short, their tails seem long by comparison, giving them an elongated look.
Adult males are red around the face and chest, with a streaky brown back, underside and tail. Adult females aren’t red in the color; they are plain gray toned brown with blurry markings to make them indistinguishable.
Did you know:
Unusually, house finches feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods.
Despite its name, the white-winged crossbill has a red body and black wings. They are named after their white-winged bars, which act as a field mark for birdwatchers. The females share the same wing and tail batter, only with a more yellow toned body.
You will find this bird in the Boreal forests but they can also be found in backyards that have bird feeders. White-winged crossbills are very sociable and live in big flocks all year round. They forage mostly in spruce and tamarack, using their crossed bills to pry open cones and eat seeds.
The White-Winged Crossbill takes grit from the ground and eats insects during the summer months. This species has been known to wander a long way if spruce and other cones are scarce in their surrounding area.
The elegant trogons were originally called the coppery-tailed trogon due to their colored appearance. Trogon translates from Greek to gnawer, due to the hooked bill and insect heavy diet.
Whilst many trogon birds live in tropical forests, this species can be found in North America. They tend to nest in riparian vegetation, sometimes close to human activity, for example campgrounds and near service trails.
The have a stunning metallic green head with a white streak on the top torso and a bright red underbody. They are secondary cavity nesters, which means they put their nests in holes that have been excavated by woodpeckers. Once the woodpecker has moved on, trogons move into their nests.
The ‘Apapane is a Hawaiian songbird that belongs to the Hawaiian honeycreepers family. These cute little birds have a short, curved bill, a red body with dark wings and a white vent. They can be found in upland forest areas.
‘Apapanes have a brush-tipped tongue that has been especially adapted for easily accessing and sipping nectar. These birds primarily feed from the nectar of the ‘ohi‘a flowers, and are significant pollinators of this tree. Although their diet is mostly nectar, they also eat a variety of insects when available.
Although not endangered, the ‘apapane is vulnerable due to deforestation, and being eaten by non-native mammals like pigs and goats.
Did you know:
‘Apapanes has one of the highest rates of avian malaria due to the season migration to low-elevation forests. There is sadly a 60% mortality rate due to the disease.
Scarlet tanagers are stocky, medium-sized songbirds with rounded bills that let them easily eat both fruits and insects. The males have a vibrant red body with black wings, whilst females of the species have a yellow body with olive wings. After breeding, adult males molt to share the plumage of female birds, with black wings and tail.
These birds can be found in deciduous-evergreen forests in eastern North America but migrate to backyards and shrublands during the winter months. They spend their time skulking in the wide lives of a forest canopy, making them almost invisible.
Whilst you won’t see scarlet tanagers, you will hear them. They sing burry songs and have a distinct chick-burr call. These birds and sensitive to habitat fragmentation, so you may see them in forests as well as your backyard.
The Eastern Bluebird is the Missouri state bird with a big, rounded head and a plump body. The wings long, but the tail and legs are unproportionally short. They have a beautiful vivid, blue shade with a rusty red color on the breast. The blue shade will depend on the light, so males may look more gray toned brown from a distance. The females are gray in tone with bluish wings and tails, with more subdued orange breasts.
You will find Eastern bluebirds perching on wires, low branches, or posts. They do this so they can scan the ground for pretty. They also feed by dropping to the ground to eat insects or by perching n fruit trees.
Eastern bluebirds live in meadows, or areas with large openings surrounded by trees. Bluebirds commonly use nest boxes and woodpecker holes so you may find them in your garden. Because of the lack of nest boxes around these days, you might see these birds on golf courses, field edges and other open ages.
The red-crested cardinal is a medium-sized bird with bold feathers and a unique crest on its head. The have a vibrant red head that comes down to the throat to the chest area, with a light gray body and darker gray wings. It shows its majestic crest during territorial disputes and when courting mates.
Red-crested cardinals can be found on the ground in shrubland, agricultural areas, near lakes and rivers. This species can be found in Hawaii and live in many south American countries. Their diets consist primarily of seeds, fruit, berries and insects.
In the nonbreeding season, red-crested cardinals gather in large flocks. They are noisy birds singing in a slow, melodious whistle.
Birds Have Red Chests: FAQs
Why Do Birds Have Red Chests?
The main reason birds have red chests is to stand out to a mate. Every species of bird has a specific father size and color to help choose a mate. Experts believe that if a bird has large bright feathers, predators will be able to easily spot it.
This means that when it comes to breeding season, only the strong males would have been fit and fast enough to escape predators. This ensures only the strongest win, and the females breed with the very best of the species. Basically, a bird showing off their bright colors is the equivalent of a human flexing their muscles.
The reasons females very rarely have a red chest is because they can’t afford to be colorful. Female birds incubate their eggs on a nest, which makes them vulnerable to predators that hunt eggs. For this reason, female birds have dull brown plumage that camouflage in any environment. If a female bird is bright, it will be her chest, as this is hidden when she sits on the nest. Because her chest will be pressed against the eggs, it will be out of view.
How Do I Attract Red Chested Birds To My Garden?
One of the best ways to encourage birds with red chests to visit your home is to install a bird feeder in your garden. To begin with your feeder may go unnoticed, but once the birds spot it, they will keep returning. Hang the bird feeder from a tree or choose a freestanding model. There are lots available on the market with different foods including:
- Suet balls which are ideal for the winter months, they are filled with calories that help birds keep going in the cold months.
- Sunflower hearts are easy for birds to eat plus are highly rich in protein.
- Niger seeds are good if you have a specialist feeder because these black seeds are so small.
- Mealworms, dry or live, will appeal to lots of different red chested birds.
- Peanuts are filled with fat and protein, which is really appealing to birds.
You should also put out water so birds can drink and bathe. Bird baths make an attractive feature in an outdoor space, but a bowl of water is just as good. Whatever you choose, use a shallow container no deeper than two inches.
Another way to make your garden appealing to birds is to provide them with a safe place to nest. You can do this by adding nesting boxes to a sheltered area, away from predators and direct sunlight. The nests you can buy include:
- Open-fronted nest boxes which should be placed low to the ground and hidden by shrubs. This is the ideal nest for wrens or robins.
- Small-holed nest boxes, which is the classic nest box with a small hole at the top. When placed 2-4 metres up a tree or wall they can suit a bunch of bird species.
- Sparrow terraces have been especially designed for sparrows who breed in colonies. These are basically three nest boxes in one and should be placed under the eaves of a roof.