11 Beautiful Red Birds in Wisconsin [Images + IDs]

red birds in Wisconsin
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Wisconsin known for its picturesque landscapes, from its rolling farmlands to its dense forests and tranquil lakes. It’s also home to a diverse range of bird species, including the striking red bird. These birds are known for their vibrant red plumage, unique songs, and interesting behaviors, making them a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of red birds in Wisconsin, from their preferred habitats and migratory patterns to the best locations for observing them in the wild. Whether you’re an experienced birder or simply interested in learning more about the natural world, join us as we discover the fascinating world of red birds in Wisconsin and gain a deeper appreciation for the state’s rich ecological diversity.

Types of Red Birds in Wisconsin:

While many of these birds live in Wisconsin all year round, some only visit during the summer breeding season.
Other birds also spend the winter in Wisconsin. This guide will also show the frequency of these birds based on the checklists submitted by birdwatchers of Wisconsin on ebird. Let’s now delve into the specifics and examine each of these species in more depth to learn all there is to know:

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

Northern cardinals

The Northern Cardinal is a common backyard bird in Wisconsin and can be observed throughout the year in backyards, small forests, and parks.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Northern cardinals have been reported 45% on Summer checklists and 50% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

birds with red breast

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  • Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Life span: Up to 15 years
  • Size: 21 cm (8.3 in)
  • Weight: 33-65 g
  • Origin: Eastern and Central North America

Male Northern Cardinals are distinguished by their distinctive red plumage, beak, and spiky mohawk-like hair. Northern cardinals are dimorphic birds, with both sexes being nearly totally distinct in color.

Females have red parts on their tails and wings and preserve the red beak, with the rest of their plumage being a pale brown.

In the wild, these birds typically live for 3 years, while some have been reported to survive for up to 15 years, which is an unusual lifespan for tiny birds like cardinals.

The majority of Northern cardinals may be found in southeast California, where they spend most of their time hunting and eating tiny insects, fruits, berries, and seeds in woodland borders, thickets, residential gardens, cities, and desert washes.

House finch

The House Finch is another common bird species in Wisconsin and is frequently spotted around bird feeders.

Frequency in Wisconsin: House finches have been reported 16% on Summer checklists and 22% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

  • Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Life span: Up to 11 years
  • Size: 12-15 cm (4.7-5.9 in)
  • Weight: 16-27 g
  • Origin: North America

Male house finches have predominantly brown plumage with a red gradient running up from the breast to the face. Females are typically brown and white and are less colorful.

At altitudes below 6,000 feet, these little birds spend most of their time in the dry desert, desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, streamsides, and open coniferous woods. They may be found in these habitats mostly grazing on weed seeds, berries, various fruits, and tiny insects in order to stock up on protein.

House finches have a rather long lifetime in the wild, where they may survive for roughly ten years, while captive finches have been known to live for twelve years.

Scarlet tanager 

Scarlet Tanagers are commonly spotted in summer they are quite rare to be spotted in winter in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Scarlet tanagers have been reported 10% on Summer checklists and 0% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

birds with red breast

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  • Scientific name: Piranga olivacea
  • Life span: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 18 cm (7.1 in)
  • Weight: 22-28 g
  • Origin: North, Central, and South America

The Scarlet Tanagers are stunning birds with eye-catching blood-red bodies and highly defined jet-black wings and tails that flash their magnificent plumage.
These songbirds live in deciduous woods and sit high in the forest canopy and mostly eat insects. They are difficult to see but their rich burrow songs may help in identifying them.
During the autumn, songbirds migrate to South America, changing their stunning red feathers into yellow-green ones.

Purple finch

Purple Finches are relatively common in Wisconsin

Frequency in Wisconsin: Purple finches have been reported 4% on Summer checklists and 8% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Haemorhous purpureus
  • Life span: Up to 7 years
  • Size: 14 cm (5.5 in)
  • Weight: 20-25 g
  • Origin: North America

The purple finch is a beautiful tiny bird renowned for its unusual appearance. Despite having the name “Purple Finch,” these adorable tiny birds really have a pinkish-red color. Similar to other bird species, the females lack the rosy red coloring, while the males are more flamboyant and show off their gorgeous colors.
These finches often live in coniferous woods, shrublands, and fields, where they nest and perch while singing their lyrical songs. They are uncommon in metropolitan centers because they prefer to remain far from the activities of the human population.

Summer tanager

Summer Tanager is not a common bird in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Summer tanagers have been reported as less than 1% in checklists submitted by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Piranga rubra
  • Life span: Up to 8 years
  • Size: 16 cm (6.3 in)
  • Weight: 22-27 g
  • Origin: North, Central, and South America

Male summer tanagers are almost all red, with a gray/silver beak. Females, on the other hand, are nearly all yellow, making these birds as dimorphic as they get. Summer tanagers spend most of their time in the gaps and borders of open deciduous or pine-oak woods.

While on the move, these red birds will chase insects such as wasps, bees, and caterpillars, as well as consume fruits, tiny berries, and rare seeds.

Tanagers live for around 5 years in the wild, which is about average for other wild birds, while captive summer tanagers are likely to live longer, similar to most other birds.

Red crossbill

Red Crossbills are not frequently encountered in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Red crossbills have been reported at 0.2% on Summer checklists and 1% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Loxia curvirostra
  • Life span: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 15 cm (5.9 in)
  • Weight: 26-39 g
  • Origin: North America and Europe

Red Crossbills are recognizable by their reddish-orange feathers with grey wing feathers and beaks that tend to cross over one another as their name crossbill implies. Females, like summer tanagers, have a richer golden color with grey parts blended throughout.

Because of their urge and need to eat pine seeds, these crossbills spend most of their time in coniferous woods. Red crossbills may be found as long as there are pine trees around. This is why some of these birds may be found in heathlands.

Red crossbills eat spruce, pine, Douglas-fir, hemlock, larch, and tiny insects throughout their rather long lives of 8+ years in the wild.

Painted bunting

Painted Buntings are not commonly found in Wisconsin. These birds are renowned for their vibrant and striking colors, with males boasting a bright blue head, green back, and red underparts, while females possess a less vibrant green hue.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Painted buntings have been reported as less than 1% in checklists submitted by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

  • Scientific name: Passerina ciris
  • Life span: Up to 8 years
  • Size: 11-13 cm (4.3-5.1 in)
  • Weight: 12-17 g
  • Origin: North America

With stunning blue, red, green, and yellow feathers, the Painted Bunting is one of the most colorful and spectacular kinds of birds, and it is a sight to see.
The Buntings, which are members of the Cardinal family, have a striking combination of colors, with vivid red feathers identifying the lower body. The females, on the other hand, are fully covered in green fur.
The brilliant songbirds often live in the woods and woodlands. They graze in swarms and sing lovely wandering melodies together. These birds are very social.
Pay attention to the metallic chip sounds if you’re attempting to locate these birds in the jungle.

White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbills are not commonly found in Wisconsin either

Frequency in Wisconsin: White-winged Crossbills have been reported at 0.1% on Summer checklists and 1.5% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Loxia leucoptera
  • Life span: Up to 4 years
  • Size: 5.9-6.7 in (15-17 cm)
  • Weight: 29 g
  • Origin: Northern parts of the United States

White-winged Crossbill finches have long, crossed beaks. Males have red wings and tails, as well as two white wing bars. Females have two white wing bands and are yellow and brown.

White-winged When cone harvests are weak farther north, Crossbills reside in woods in Canada, Alaska, and possibly northern US states. They may be seen munching on seeds in spruce woods.

Unlike other birds, these birds may reproduce at any time of year as long as there is adequate food. They often heard in big groups.

Common Redpolls

Common Redpolls are not commonly sighted in summer in Wisconsin. However, they have been spotted frequently in winter by birdwatchers in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Common Redpolls have been reported as 0% on Summer checklists and 10% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Acanthis flammea
  • Life span: 2 to 3 years
  • Size: 4.5 and 5.5 in
  • Weight: 12 and 16 grams
  • Origin: southern Canada and the northern states

These common redpolls are distinguished by their red, white, and brown plumage, which includes a red and white forehead and breast, as well as brown and white wings. Females have a little patch on their forehead as well, but the rest of their body is brown and white.

A common redpoll may be found in boreal woods of pines, spruces, and larches.

These birds consume seeds from birch, alder, and spruce trees, as well as a variety of tiny invertebrates such as caterpillars, beetles, flies, and so on.

The highest lifespan for a redpoll was roughly 7 years and 10 months, however, the majority of redpolls spend far shorter lives, between 4 and 5 years.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks, males showcase a rosy red plumage, are not commonly observed in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin: Pine Grosbeaks have been reported as 0% on Summer checklists and 1.5% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

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  • Scientific name: Pinicola enucleator
  • Life span: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 22-24 cm (8.7-9.4 in)
  • Weight: 40-80 g
  • Origin: Northern North America and Eurasia

Pine Grosbeaks are distinguished by their greyish-white wings and tail feathers, red body and head, and black beak and feet. Female grosbeaks are not nearly as colorful as males, having plumage that is mostly light grey with touches of orange around the body and tail.

Pine Grosbeaks spend most of their time in coniferous woodlands, where they may rest on a horizontal branch to hunt tiny insects, seeds, buds, berries, and other refreshing foods.

These birds have been observed to survive up to 9 years old, sometimes even longer, indicating that they have reasonably lengthy lifespans for birds of their size.


Pyrrhuloxias, which resemble Northern Cardinals but possess a shorter crest and a more curved bill, are rarely found in Wisconsin.

Frequency in Wisconsin:  Pyrrhuloxia has been reported as less than 1% in checklists submitted by Birdswatchers of Wisconsin.

birds with red breast

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  • Scientific name: Cardinalis sinuatus
  • Life span: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 20-23 cm (7.9-9.1 in)
  • Weight: 42-50 g
  • Origin: Southwestern United States and Mexico

The Pyrrhuloxia is a member of the Cardinal family, often known as Desert Cardinals, and lives in the sweltering deserts of Southwest America.

With its spruce grey and red feathers, this bird appears just as stylish even if it does not have fully red plumage like the cardinal. It may be distinguished from northern cardinals by its robust yellow beak and taller, more beautiful crest of feathers.

These musical desert birds are strong because of the hard climate and become more aggressive during the mating season. However, during the winter, when they congregate in big flocks, sometimes numbering up to 1,000, they become highly social, setting aside their differences.

Final Thoughts on Red Birds in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin is home to several species of red birds, including the Northern Cardinal, Scarlet Tanager. With its diverse habitats, from forests to wetlands, Wisconsin offers great opportunities for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts to observe these colorful creatures in their natural habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the most common red birds in Wisconsin?

The two most common red birds found in Wisconsin are the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). The Northern Cardinal, with its vibrant red plumage, is a year-round resident known for its melodious songs and frequent visits to feeders. The House Finch, while not entirely red, displays a reddish hue on its head, breast, and rump. It is also a common sight in Wisconsin, often seen in urban and suburban areas, as well as woodlands and grasslands. Both species bring a burst of color and charm to the Wisconsin birdwatching experience.

What red-headed birds can you see in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, you can spot several red-headed birds, including:

  • House Finch: Male House Finches display a reddish hue on their heads, chests, and rumps.
  • Red-headed Woodpecker: This woodpecker features a vibrant red head, neck, and throat.
  • Scarlet Tanager: The male Scarlet Tanager flaunts a red head and body, contrasting with black wings.
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker: While not entirely red-headed, it has a red cap on the back of its head.
  • Pileated Woodpecker: The Pileated Woodpecker boasts a red crest on its head, making it a striking sight.

Where are some good places to go birdwatching in Wisconsin?

Some popular birdwatching spots in Wisconsin include the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area, Devil’s Lake State Park, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

What is the best time of year to spot red birds in Wisconsin?

The best time to spot red birds in Wisconsin is generally in the spring and summer months when they are more active and visible.

Are there any endangered red birds in Wisconsin?

While there are no endangered red birds in Wisconsin, there are some species, such as the Kirtland’s Warbler and the Henslow’s Sparrow, that have experienced declines in population due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these species and their habitats.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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