Red Birds in Ohio – Picture and ID Guide

vermilion flycatcher

These are the 11 species of red birds in Ohio 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 Ohio and so you may have a rare find.

Red birds visit Ohio 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 Ohio, what they look like and where they are commonly seen.

Finches and Tanagers are the most common 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 in Ohio 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 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 red birds of Ohio that can be spotted all year. They are not as common as House Finch in Ohio.

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 are 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 Ohio, that can be spotted 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.

Common Redpoll

common redpoll

Common Redpolls are cheery red birds in Ohio in winter. They are most frequently spotted between November and March but some hang around into May. 

Common Redpolls have red foreheads, pinky breasts, and are 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.

Vermillion Flycatcher

vermilion flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatchers are very rare red birds in Ohio. They have occasionally been spotted in early winter in Ohio. If you want to spot this bright red bird then you will have to head further south.

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 bright red birds that in Ohio that breed here in the summer and can be spotted between April and October. Some Scarlet Tanagers will stay in Ohio as late as November or 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.

Summer Tanager

summer tanager

Summer Tanagers are not very common in Ohio but can be spotted in the summer. They are mostly spotted between May and October but some hang around until January.

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.

Red Crossbill

red crossbill

Red Crossbill are rarely spotted in Ohio but a few can be seen throughout the 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 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.

White-winged Crossbill

Male White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbills are rare in Ohio but some can be spotted in winter between November and May, more commonly in north Ohio around Cleveland.

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 

Pine Grosbeak

pine grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks are very rare in Ohio but a few have been spotted in winter in the state in the North.

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.

Painted Bunting

Painted Buting are rarely spotted in Ohio but a few may appear in winter. They have mostly been spotted between Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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.