Red Birds in Arizona – Picture and ID Guide

vermilion flycatcher

These are the 13 species of red birds in Arizona that you can spot in your backyard or when out birding.

Some of them you may be familiar with such as a Northern Cardinal but some of these red birds are not often spotted in Arizonaand so you may have a rare find.

Red birds visit Arizona at different times of the year and some may breed in the state and some stay for winter.

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I have gathered all the information you need to know such as when these red birds are in Arizona, what they look like and where they are commonly seen.

Finches and Tanagers are often red birds that you can spot but there are several different species to learn.

So take a look and find the birds you are looking for.

Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinals are very common red birds of Arizona throughout the year. They are common backyard birds in Arizona.

The bright red male Northern Cardinal is a bird with a red head, body and tail, with black around their faces. They are a great sight, especially against a white winter background.  The females are also a little 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 own 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.

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finch are rare red birds in Arizona but they can be spotted here in winter.

Purple Finch 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 and Pacific coast.

They can be spotted in evergreen forests feeding on seeds but also buds, nectar and berries.

They readily come to feeders for black oil sunflower seeds.

House Finch

house finch male

House Finch are very common red birds in Arizona 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.

Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch can be spotted all year in Arizona but they are more common in winter between October and May.

Cassin’s Finches have a red crown and rosy pink head and are red breasted with a whiteish belly and brown back and wings.

  • Length: 6.3 in (16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.2 oz (24-34 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-10.6 in (25-27 cm)

They can be found in mountain forests in western states foraging in flocks for seeds.

They are not as common in backyards as House or Purple Finches but they may be attracted with sunflower seed feeders especially in winter or fruiting shrubs such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape and apple.

Vermillion Flycatcher

vermilion flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatchers are common bright red birds in Arizona all year. They are most common in the south and west of Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson.

Vermilion Flycatchers are bright red birds from the front and brown on the back. with a brown mask across the face. Females are gray and brown with a pale reddish belly.

  • Pyrocephalus rubinus
  • Length: 4.8-5.4 in (12.3-13.8 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.5 oz (11.3-14.8 g)

They can be found all year in the far south in desert landscapes catching insects or sitting on exposed perches. 

They are fairly common in the southwest but also along the Gulf Coast in smaller numbers.

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager

Scarlet Tanagers are rare in Arizona but they are occasionally spotted between May and July or between October and December.

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.

Flame-colored Tanager

Flame-colored Tanager (Piranga bidentata) on a tree branch

Flame-colored Tanagers can be spotted in Arizona in the summer between April and September but only along the southern border.

Male Flame-colored Tanagers are brightly colored birds with orange-red coloring, with darker wings and tails. Females are more yellow-orange.

  • Length 7 – 7.5 inches (18 – 19 cm)
  • Weight 1.13 – 1.71 oz (32 – 48 g). 

A rare visitor to the US, the Flame-colored Tanager has started breeding in Arizona and has been spotted in Texas. They usually inhabit woodland Mexico and Central America. Their diet is insects and berries.

Summer Tanager

summer tanager

Summer Tanagers breed in Arizona and are common between April and October. Some Summer Tanagers will stay here all year.

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 and can be 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 rubs the stinger off before eating them.

You can attract more Summer Tanagers to your backyard with berry bushes and fruit trees.

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanagers can be spotted all year in Arizona.

Hepatic Tanager males are red birds with some gray on the back. Females are yellow.

  • Piranga flava
  • Length: 3.5-7.9 in (8.8-20 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.7 oz (23-47 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6 in (32 cm)

Hepatic Tanagers breed in southwestern states and Mexico before spending the winter in Mexico, Central and South America.

They can be found in mountain ranges with pine or pine and oak woodlands and feed on insects and spiders. They will also eat some berries such as cherry and grapes.

Red Crossbill

red crossbill

Red Crossbill can be spotted all year in Arizona but they are more common in the summer months.

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 in 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.

Pine Grosbeak

pine grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks are rare red birds in Arizona but they are occasionally spotted in the northeast of the state between July and March.

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 mostly found in Canada but some can be spotted along the border or in 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.

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia are common in southern Arizona all year.

Pyrrhuloxia males are grey with lots  of red coloring to the face, crest, breast and tail. Females are dull gray with less red coloring.

  • Cardinalis sinuatus
  • Length: 8.3 in (21 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-1.5 oz (24-43 g)

They are residents of the hot deserts in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico.

During the breeding season, they fiercely defend their territory but in winter they can be found in flocks of up to 1000. 

Pyrrhuloxia feed mostly on seeds but also insects. They can be found at feeders with sunflower seeds but more often prefer them scattered on the ground. 

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting are not very common in Arizona but they are spotted here mostly between August and October.

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 along with some coastal areas in the Southeast U.S, before migrating at night to Central America, southern Florida, and some Caribbean islands.

You can find Painted Bunting in semi-open habitats foraging mostly for seeds but also insects in the breeding season.

To attract painted Bunting to your yard try adding low dense vegetation and feeders filled with seeds such as white millet or black oil sunflower seeds.