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The Top 7 Red Birds in Alabama (With Pics)

The fiery passion of Alabama’s avian world takes center stage as we explore its red birds. From the deep crimson of the Northern Cardinal to the subtle blush of the House Finch, these birds ignite Alabama’s forests, wetlands, and backyards with color. Let’s embark on a journey through Alabama’s most radiant avian wonders!

1. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
  • Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis
  • Size: 21-23 cm (8.3-9.1 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 25-31 cm (9.8-12.2 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Year-round

The Northern Cardinal, with its iconic, vivid red plumage in males and warm brownish-red tones in females, is an emblematic sight across Alabama. Frequently seen in suburban backyards, dense thickets, and woodlands, their loud, melodious whistles are a consistent part of the area’s soundscape.

Their prominent crest, conical orange-red beak, and black face mask in males add to their striking appearance. These year-round residents often form monogamous pairs, with both parents taking turns feeding their chicks. They primarily feast on seeds and insects.

Did you know? Unlike many songbirds where only males sing, female Northern Cardinals also sing, often from their nests.

2. Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager Male
  • Scientific Name: Piranga rubra
  • Size: 17 cm (6.7 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 28-30 cm (11-11.8 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Spring to early Fall

A striking splash of red among Alabama’s green canopies, the male Summer Tanager is the embodiment of southern summers. They are the North American continent’s only entirely red bird. They prefer the tall trees of Alabama’s forests, only coming down to catch bees and wasps in mid-air—a favorite snack.

In a fascinating display, they strike the insect against a branch to remove the stinger before indulging. Females, in their lemon-yellow, act as a beautiful contrast to the males and can often be found singing in their rich, melodious voices.

Did you know? As they age, young male Summer Tanagers transition from yellow to a mix of red and yellow before finally achieving their full red plumage.

3. Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager
  • Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea
  • Size: 16-19 cm (6.3-7.5 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 25-30 cm (9.8-11.8 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Spring and Fall during migration

Emerging like a ruby against the deep greens of Alabama’s forests, the male Scarlet Tanager is a sight that embodies the wild spirit of the woods. These birds are travelers, migrating between North and South America.

During this transit, their diet of insects shifts to incorporate more fruits. Their energetic, chick-burred song can often be heard before they’re seen. Females, donning a yellow-green plumage, might be less conspicuous than males but are equally enchanting.

Did you know? Despite their brilliant color, Scarlet Tanagers are often hard to spot as they usually stay high up in the forest canopy.

4. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Scientific Name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
  • Size: 19-25 cm (7.5-9.8 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 42-50 cm (16.5-19.7 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Year-round

The striking, full red head of this woodpecker species is a visual treat in Alabama’s open woodlands, groves, and orchards. A bird of many contrasts, its white belly and black wing feathers further accentuate its red crown.

Their feeding habits are just as interesting—these birds don’t just peck at wood for insects but are also known to catch them mid-flight. Additionally, their behavior of hoarding food in tree crevices showcases their resourceful nature. Their call, a loud “kwirr,” is distinctive and resonant.

Did you know? These woodpeckers are known to store food, covering it with wood or bark, and they even catch insects in mid-air, akin to flycatchers.

5. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus
  • Size: 22-27 cm (8.7-10.6 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 38-46 cm (15-18.1 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Year-round

Don’t let their name deceive you! The Red-bellied Woodpecker’s most distinguishing red feature is its vibrant cap and nape, which gleams against the white and barred patterns of its body. Habitually seen spiraling around tree trunks or hanging upside-down on branches, these birds are experts at extracting insects from wood and bark.

Their chattering calls and drumming on trees are an integral part of Alabama’s woodlands, and their adaptability means they’re just as likely to be spotted in a backyard as in a dense forest.

Did you know? The “red-bellied” name can be misleading as the blush of red on their belly is faint and often hard to see.

6. Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird
  • Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Size: 17-23 cm (6.7-9.1 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 31-40 cm (12.2-15.7 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Year-round

The Red-winged Blackbird, primarily black with scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches, is a staple of Alabama’s marshes and wetlands. Often seen perched on cattails or reeds, these birds are fiercely territorial during the breeding season. Their distinctive conk-la-ree call, typically accompanied by a puffing of their red shoulders, is synonymous with the southern wetlands.

Outside of the breeding season, they can often be found in large flocks, sometimes mixed with other bird species, foraging on open fields.

Did you know? A male Red-winged Blackbird can have a territory with as many as 15 females nesting within.

7. House Finch

House Finch
  • Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus
  • Size: 12-15 cm (4.7-5.9 in) in length
  • Wingspan: 20-25 cm (7.9-9.8 in)
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Observation Period: Year-round

The House Finch, particularly the male with its red forehead, throat, and rump, adds a burst of color to Alabama’s urban areas. Originally from the western U.S., they have adapted remarkably well to the East and are now common sights in urban parks, backyards, and gardens.

Their long, jumbled songs are a series of twitters and warbles, a cheerful addition to any morning. Beyond their urban comfort zones, they are also found in deserts, grasslands, and forests, showcasing their adaptability.

Did you know? The coloration of the male House Finch is determined by its diet during the molting period. More carotenoids in the diet result in brighter red plumage.

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