10 Red Birds in Louisiana – Picture and ID Guide

Pyrrhuloxia

Red Birds are easy to spot with the flash of bright color but do you know your Finch from your Tanager?

There are 10 species of red birds in Louisiana that have been spotted. Of these, 6 species are recognized on state checklists as regularly occurring, an additional 3 species are considered rare or accidental, and one is considered an introduced species.

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

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

The most common red bird in both summer and winter in Louisiana is the Northern Cardinal. The Summer Tanager and Painted Bunting are more commonly seen in summer, and several species are only spotted in winter in Louisiana. Keep reading to find out which ones.

10 Red Birds in Louisiana:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. House Finch
  3. Summer Tanager
  4. Painted Bunting
  5. Scarlet Tanager
  6. Purple Finch
  7. Pyrrhuloxia
  8. Red Crossbill
  9. Cassin’s Finch
  10. Hepatic Tanager

10 Red Birds in Louisiana:

1. Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinals are the most common red birds to spot in Louisiana all year.

The bright red male Northern Cardinal is a bird with a red head, body, and tail, 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

House Finches are considered introduced species in Louisiana that can be seen in the state 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.

3. Summer Tanager

summer tanager

Summer Tanagers are residents in Louisiana all year, but they are more common in the summer and fall between April to November.

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. Painted Bunting

Painted Buntings can be seen in Louisiana all year, but they are more commonly spotted 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.

5. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager

Scarlet Tanagers are not very common in Louisiana, but they can be spotted during migration in spring and fall.

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.

6. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Purple Finches are rare in Louisiana, but you can spot them in 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.

7. Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxias are considered an accidental species in Louisiana, but a few have been spotted near Lake Arthur.

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. 

8. Red Crossbill

red crossbill

Red Crossbills are considered an accidental or rare species in Louisiana, but they have been spotted near New Roads.

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.

9. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finches are very rare in Louisiana. In fact, according to records, they have only been spotted twice near Lake Charles.

Cassin’s Finches have a red crown, rosy pink head, red breasts, whiteish bellies, and brown backs 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. However, they may be attracted with sunflower seed feeders, especially in winter, or fruiting shrubs such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape, and apple.

10. Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanagers are an accidental species in Louisiana that have been spotted near the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana on ebird in summer and winter.

Common Red Birds in Louisiana in Summer:

Northern Cardinal 65.8%
House Finch 18.3%
Summer Tanager 15.7%
Painted Bunting 14.2%
Scarlet Tanager 1.8%
Purple Finch <0.1%
Hepatic Tanager <0.1%

Common Red Birds in Louisiana in Winter:

Northern Cardinal 59.3%
House Finch 15.5%
Purple Finch 5.8%
Painted Bunting 0.4%
Summer Tanager 0.3%
Pyrrhuloxia <0.1%
Red Crossbill <0.1%
Scarlet Tanager <0.1%