13 Red Birds in Kansas – Picture and ID Guide

Hepatic Tanager

Kansas boasts 13 species of red birds that have been spotted in the state. Of these, 11 species are recognized on state checklists as regularly occurring, and an additional 2 species are considered rare or accidental.

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

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

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The most common red bird in both summer and winter in Kansas is the Northern Cardinal. The Summer Tanager is more commonly seen in summer, and several species are only spotted in winter in Kansas. Keep on reading to find out more about these red birds in Kansas.

13 Red Birds in Kansas:

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

13 Red Birds in Kansas:

1. Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinals are very common red birds in Kansas all year.

The bright red male Northern Cardinal has a red head, body, and tail and with black around their faces. They are an incredible sight, especially against a white winter background.  The females are also 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 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.

2. House Finch

house finch male

Another common red bird that can be spotted in Kansas all year is the House Finch.

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.

3. Summer Tanager

summer tanager

Summer Tanagers are not very common in Kansas but can be spotted mostly in the eastern part of the state, especially between May and October.

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.

4. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finches are a bit rare in Kansas, but they have been spotted mostly in the eastern part of the state during winter.

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.

5. Painted Bunting

A rare majestic red bird in Kansas is the Painted Bunting. They can be spotted mostly in the southeastern part of the state during summer.

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.

6. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager

Scarlet Tanagers are pretty rare in Kansas but have been spotted during summer, mainly near the borders of Kansas and Missouri.

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.

7. Red Crossbill

red crossbill

Although very rare in Kansas, Red Crossbills can be spotted in the state 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.

8. Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls are very rare in Kansas, but a few 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 can store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchy park 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.

9. White-winged Crossbill

Male White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbills are very rare birds to spot in Kansas. However, over the past 10 years, there are records of them being seen in Dodge City, Manhattan, and Seneca.

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. 

10. Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxias are considered an accidental or rare species in Kansas, but they were spotted around Anthony and Harper City.

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.

They fiercely defend their territory during the breeding season, 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. 

11. Cassin’s Finch

Another very rare red bird that can be spotted in Kansas is the Cassin’s Finch. It’s hard to spot these beautiful red birds, but a few were seen in the state during winter.

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.

12. Pine Grosbeak

pine grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks are very rare in Kansas. According to records, very few were spotted in Garden City and Junction City over the past 10 years.

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 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.

13. Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

The other red bird which is considered an accidental or rare species in Kansas is the Hepatic Tanager. In fact, according to records, it has only been spotted twice.

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.

How Frequently Red birds are Spotted in Kansas 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 Kansas on ebird in summer and winter.

Common Red Birds in Kansas in Summer:

Northern Cardinal 53.3%
House Finch 21.1%
Summer Tanager 12.4%
Painted Bunting 2.1%
Scarlet Tanager 0.9%
Red Crossbill 0.1%
Purple Finch <0.1%
White-winged Crossbill <0.1%
Cassin’s Finch <0.1%
Hepatic Tanager <0.1%

Common Red Birds in Kansas in Winter:

Northern Cardinal 48.6%
House Finch 26.3%
Purple Finch 4.7%
Red Crossbill 0.2%
Common Redpoll 0.1%
Pyrrhuloxia 0.1%
White-winged Crossbill 0.1%
Summer Tanager <0.1%
Painted Bunting <0.1%
Cassin’s Finch <0.1%
Pine Grosbeak <0.1%