10 Red Birds in Idaho – Picture and ID Guide

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

There are 10 species of red birds in Idaho that have been spotted. Of these 6 species are recognized on state checklists as regularly occurring, and an additional 4 species are considered rare or accidental.

This guide will help you identify the species of red birds in Idaho according to avibase. Some of these birds migrate, and some remain all year.

Common_birds_-_part_1 x

You can print out a free bird identification worksheet for Idaho to help you identify all birds that visit your backyard.

The most common red bird in both summer and winter in Idaho is the House Finch. The Cassin’s Finch is more commonly seen in summer. There are several species that can only be spotted during winter, while others can only be spotted during summer. Keep on reading to find out more about these red birds in Idaho.

10 Red Birds in Idaho:

  1. House Finch
  2. Cassin’s Finch
  3. Red Crossbill
  4. Common Redpoll
  5. Pine Grosbeak
  6. White-winged Crossbill
  7. Purple Finch
  8. Summer Tanager
  9. Scarlet Tanager
  10. Painted Bunting

10 Red Birds in Idaho:

1. House Finch

house finch male

House Finches are very common red birds in Idaho 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.

2. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finches can be seen in Idaho all year, but they are more common in the summer between May and September.

Cassin’s Finches have a red crown, rosy pink head, and 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.

3. Red Crossbill

red crossbill

Although not very common, Red Crossbill can be seen in Idaho all year.

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 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.

4. Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls are rare in Idaho, but some have been spotted during winter.

Common Redpolls have red foreheads, pinky breasts, and brown and white over the rest of their bodies.

  • Acanthis flammea
  • Length: 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.4-0.7 oz (11-20 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)

They can be found in winter in northern states and less frequently in central states.

In winter, they will sometimes tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. They can eat up to 42% of their body mass every day and store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchy part of their esophagus.

They can be found in weedy fields or feeding on catkins in trees, but they will also come to feeders for small seeds such as nyjer seeds or thistle.

5. Pine Grosbeak

pine grosbeak

Another rare red bird in Idaho is the Pine Grosbeak, but they can be spotted in the state all year.

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 primarily found in Canada, but some can be spotted along the US border, 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.

6. White-winged Crossbill

Male White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbills are very rare in Idaho, but some have been spotted mainly in the northern part of the state.

White-winged Crossbills are finches with heavy crossed beaks. Males are red birds with black wings and tails and two white wingbars. Females are yellow and brown and with two white wing bars.

  • Loxia leucoptera
  • Length: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.8-0.9 oz (24-26 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.2-11.0 in (26-28 cm)

White-winged Crossbills live in forests in Canada, Alaska, and sometimes Northern US states when cone crops are poor further north. They can be found in spruce forests feeding on seeds.

Unusually, these birds breed at any time of year as long as there is enough food.

They can often be heard in large flocks. 

7. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finches are considered an accidental species in Idaho, but a few were spotted near the Payette National Forest.

Purple Finches 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 are Pacific coast.

You can spot them in evergreen forests feeding on seeds but also buds, nectar, and berries.

They readily come to feeders for black oil sunflower seeds.

8. Summer Tanager

summer tanager

Summer Tanagers are considered an accidental or rare species in the state, with a few recorded sightings near Idaho Falls over the last 10 years.

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 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 rubbing the stinger off before eating them.

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

9. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager

Another red bird considered an accidental species in Idaho is the Scarlet Tanager. In fact, according to records, it has only been spotted twice.

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.

10. Painted Bunting

Pine Grosbeaks are extremely rare birds to see in Idaho. They have been recorded only once in Boise.

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

You can find Painted Bunting in semi-open habitats, mainly foraging for seeds and insects in the breeding season.

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

How Frequently Red birds are Spotted in Idaho in Summer and Winter

Checklists for the state are a great resource to find out which birds are commonly spotted here. These lists show which red birds are most commonly recorded on checklists for Idaho on ebird in summer and winter.

Common Red Birds in Idaho in Summer:

House Finch 23%
Cassin’s Finch 10%
Red Crossbill 3%
Pine Grosbeak 0.3%
White-winged Crossbill 0.1%
Summer Tanager <0.1%
Purple Finch <0.1%

Common Red Birds in Idaho in Winter:

House Finch 33%
Red Crossbill 2%
Cassin’s Finch 2%
Common Redpoll 1%
Pine Grosbeak 1%
White-winged Crossbill 0.2%
Purple Finch 0.1%