Red birds brighten up your day, so make sure you know all the red birds you can spot.
There are 11 species of red birds in North Dakota that have been spotted. Of these, 7 species are recognized on state checklists as regularly occurring, and 4 additional species are considered rare or accidental.
This guide will help you identify the species of red birds in North Dakota according to avibase. Some of these birds migrate, and some remain all year.
You can print out a free bird identification worksheet for North Dakota to help you identify all birds that visit your backyard.
The most common red bird in both summer and winter in North Dakota is the House Finch. The Common Redpoll is more commonly seen in winter, and several other species are more commonly spotted in summer in North Dakota. Keep on reading to find out more about these red birds.
11 Red Birds in North Dakota:
- House Finch
- Common Redpoll
- Northern Cardinal
- Purple Finch
- Red Crossbill
- White-winged Crossbill
- Scarlet Tanager
- Pine Grosbeak
- Summer Tanager
- Painted Bunting
- Cassin’s Finch
11 Red Birds in North Dakota:
1. House Finch
Although House Finches are considered accidental species of red birds on some bird checklists in North Dakota, they have now been accepted as residents 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. Common Redpoll
Common Redpolls can be seen in North Dakota in winter between November and May.
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.
3. Northern Cardinal
Although not very common, Northern Cardinals are residents of North Dakota 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.
4. Purple Finch
Purple Finches can be seen in North Dakota all year, but they are more common 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 and buds, nectar, and berries.
They readily come to feeders for black oil sunflower seeds.
5. Red Crossbill
Red Crossbills are not very common in North Dakota, but they can be spotted here 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.
6. White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbills are rare red birds in North Dakota, but they can be spotted in the state during winter.
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. Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanagers are rare in North Dakota, but they can be spotted mostly in the eastern part of the state between May and October.
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.
8. Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeaks are rare red birds in North Dakota, but they have been spotted around Fort Berthold Reservation and Spirit Lake Reservation.
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 mainly 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.
9. Summer Tanager
Summer Tanagers are considered an accidental species in North Dakota, but they have been spotted in Velva, Grand Forks, and a few around Sheyenne National Grassland.
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.
10. Painted Bunting
Painted Buntings are considered an accidental or rare species in North Dakota, but a few have been spotted in Jamestown and Mandan.
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.
11. Cassin’s Finch
Cassin’s Finches are an accidental species in North Dakota. They are extremely rare red birds, and according to records, they have only been spotted in the state twice.
Cassin’s Finches have a red crown, rosy pink head, red-breasts 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. Still, they may be attracted with sunflower seed feeders, especially in winter, or fruiting shrubs such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape, and apple.
How Frequently Red birds are Spotted in North Dakota 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 North Dakota on ebird in summer and winter.
Common Red Birds in North Dakota in Summer:
House Finch 11.9%
Northern Cardinal 2.4%
Purple Finch 0.9%
Scarlet Tanager 0.7%
Red Crossbill 0.5%
Summer Tanager 0.1%
Painted Bunting <0.1%
Common Redpoll <0.1%
White-winged Crossbill <0.1%
Common Red Birds in North Dakota in Winter:
House Finch 18.7%
Common Redpoll 13.4%
Purple Finch 4.5%
Northern Cardinal 3.3%
Red Crossbill 1.9%
White-winged Crossbill 1.7%
Pine Grosbeak 1.0%
Summer Tanager <0.1%
Cassin’s Finch <0.1%