Oklahoma proudly presents an impressive array of 13 red bird species, and this comprehensive handbook will acquaint you with all the captivating crimson avian inhabitants that can be observed in the region, while also providing assistance in identifying them.
The vast expanse of Oklahoma is home to a remarkable collection of 13 distinct red bird species, each leaving their mark. Among these, six species are acknowledged on the state checklists as regularly occurring, while the remaining seven species are considered rare or accidental guests.
With the aid of this guide, sourced from avibase, you will acquire the ability to discern and classify the various species of red birds thriving in the Oklahoma locale. Take note that some of these birds embark on seasonal migrations, while others choose to remain year-round.
For a comprehensive understanding of the avian visitors frequenting your backyard, be sure to obtain a complimentary worksheet exclusively designed for bird identification in Oklahoma.
The most prevalent red bird throughout both the summer and winter seasons in Oklahoma is the Northern Cardinal, whose vibrant scarlet plumage never fails to mesmerize. However, during the summer months, one is more likely to spot the resplendent Painted Bunting and a variety of other species. Continue reading to ascertain the optimal time for encountering these resplendent red birds in the wondrous state of Oklahoma.
13 Red Birds in Oklahoma:
1. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal, a staple of Oklahoma’s avian population, is a red-winged marvel. The males display an exquisite blend of crimson hues adorning their head, body, and tail, complemented by contrasting black accents around their visage. Truly a breathtaking sight, especially when set against the backdrop of a glistening winter landscape. Meanwhile, the females possess their own unique charm with their splendid brown plumage, accentuated by a prominent brown crest, delicate red highlights, and a crimson beak.
Dimensions: 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 predominantly inhabit the eastern and southern regions of the country and often exhibit territorial behavior during the breeding season, including bouts of aggression towards their own reflections.
Attracting a greater number of Northern Cardinals to your backyard feeders can be accomplished by providing a delectable assortment of sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo. They are particularly drawn to large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or scattered food on the ground.
2. House Finch
House Finches, a delightful addition to the red bird ensemble, grace the Oklahoma skies year-round.
Distinguished by their reddish head and breast in males and brown-streaked plumage in females, House Finches share a resemblance to their avian counterparts, the Purple Finches.
Dimensions: 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)
While originally prevalent in western states, House Finches have successfully expanded their range to include the eastern states, even outcompeting the Purple Finches. They can be observed in a variety of locations, including parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. Their noisy flocks are difficult to overlook.
To entice House Finches to your backyard feeders, supply them with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in either tube feeders or platform feeders.
3. Painted Bunting
The resplendent Painted Bunting, an exquisite summer visitor, graces Oklahoma with its vibrant presence during the summer months.
The male Painted Bunting is a captivating sight, adorned in a patchwork of vivid colors, predominantly red underneath, complemented by a striking blue head, green wings, and back. In contrast, the females boast a brilliant yellow-green plumage.
Scientific Name: Passerina ciris
Dimensions: Length – 4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm), Weight – 0.5-0.7 oz (13-19 g)
Painted Buntings breed in select states within the south-central and coastal regions of the Southeastern United States. Following the breeding season, they embark on nocturnal migrations to Central America, Southern Florida, and certain Caribbean islands.
These dazzling birds primarily inhabit semi-open habitats, where they forage for seeds and insects during the breeding season.
To attract Painted Buntings to your yard, consider incorporating low, dense vegetation and feeders stocked with white millet or black oil sunflower seeds.
4. Summer Tanager
During the period between April and October, one can spot the Summer Tanager predominantly in the eastern parts of Oklahoma.
The male Summer Tanager boasts a vibrant red plumage, while the females exhibit a charming yellow hue.
Scientific Name: Piranga rubra
Dimensions: Length – 6.7 in (17 cm), Weight – 1.1 oz (30 g)
Summer Tanagers breed in the southern and eastern states before embarking on their winter sojourn to Central and South America.
These forest-dwelling songbirds are often found in open woodlands, where they showcase their remarkable ability to capture and consume bees and wasps mid-flight. Their unique method involves forcefully beating the captured prey against a branch to remove the stinger before devouring it.
To attract more Summer Tanagers to your backyard, consider planting berry bushes and fruit trees, which serve as an enticing food source.
5. Purple Finch
In the winter months, the Purple Finch graces Oklahoma with its captivating presence.
Resembling the House Finch, the Purple Finch features a reddish-purple head and breast, with a more pronounced brown coloration on its back and wings.
Dimensions: 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)
While breeding primarily takes place in Canada, these finches overwinter in the eastern states, with some individuals remaining in the northeastern regions and along the Pacific coast throughout the year.
You can spot them in evergreen forests, where they feed on seeds, buds, nectar, and berries.
To attract Purple Finches, provide them with black oil sunflower seeds, as they readily visit feeders.
6. Scarlet Tanager
Considered rare or accidental in Oklahoma, the Scarlet Tanager occasionally graces the eastern part of the state during the summer months.
Scarlet Tanagers are renowned for their vibrant red plumage, accentuated by black wings and tails. The females, on the other hand, exhibit a yellow hue with darker wings and tails.
Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea
Dimensions: 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)
Scarlet Tanagers breed in eastern forests during the summer season before embarking on their migration to South America.
These elusive birds tend to stay high in the forest canopy, making them a challenging sight to behold.
To attract Scarlet Tanagers, consider planting berry plants such as blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries, juneberries, serviceberries, mulberries, strawberries, and chokeberries in your yard.
7. Red Crossbill
While considered an accidental species in Oklahoma, Red Crossbills have been occasionally spotted during winter around Oklahoma City.
Male Red Crossbills showcase red plumage with darker wings and tails, while females display a combination of yellow and brown.
These birds can be found year-round in northern and western states, with their winter range extending to eastern states.
Red Crossbills have a unique feeding behavior, primarily feeding on conifer seeds. They forage in flocks, moving from tree to tree, and possess powerful beaks capable of breaking unopened cones. Additionally, they can be found along roadsides consuming grit in the mornings.
Pyrrhuloxia is a remarkably rare red bird species in Oklahoma, with occasional sightings in Oklahoma City and a few other locations like the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Male Pyrrhuloxias feature a gray body with vibrant red coloring on their face, crest, breast, and tail. Females, in contrast, possess a dull gray plumage with less red accentuation.
Scientific Name: Cardinalis sinuatus
Dimensions: Length – 8.3 in (21 cm), Weight – 0.8-1.5 oz (24-43 g)
Pyrrhuloxias are residents of the hot deserts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico.
During the breeding season, they fiercely defend their territories. In winter, they can be observed in large flocks, sometimes comprising up to 1000 individuals.
Pyrrhuloxias primarily feed on seeds but also consume insects. They can be attracted to feeders with sunflower seeds, although they often prefer scattered food on the ground.
9. Cassin’s Finch
Cassin’s Finches are considered accidental or rare species in Oklahoma, but sightings have been reported in Hinton and Guymon.
These finches exhibit a red crown, rosy pink head, and red-breasted plumage, accompanied by a whiteish belly, brown back, and wings.
Dimensions: Length – 6.3 in (16 cm), Weight – 0.8-1.2 oz (24-34 g), Wingspan – 9.8-10.6 in (25-27 cm)
Cassin’s Finches are typically found in mountain forests of western states, where they forage for seeds in flocks.
Although not as commonly observed in backyard settings as House or Purple Finches, they may be attracted to sunflower seed feeders, particularly during winter. Fruit-bearing shrubs such as cotoneaster, mulberries, firethorn, grape, and apple can also entice them.
10. Common Redpoll
Another accidental species in Oklahoma, the Common Redpoll has been recorded in Bethel Acres, Stillwater, and Edmond over the past decade.
Common Redpolls feature red foreheads, pinky breasts, and a combination of brown and white plumage across the rest of their bodies.
Scientific Name: Acanthis flammea
Dimensions: 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)
Common Redpolls are typically found in northern states during winter, with occasional sightings in central states.
During cold winter nights, they may burrow into the snow to keep warm. They possess a remarkable ability to consume up to 42% of their body mass in seeds daily,
and they can store up to 2 grams of seeds in a stretchy part of their esophagus.
Common Redpolls can be found in weedy fields and often feed on catkins in trees. They also readily visit feeders that offer small seeds such as nyjer seeds or thistle.
11. Hepatic Tanager
Hepatic Tanagers, considered accidental or rare in Oklahoma, are extremely rare sightings. However, they have been spotted near Black Mesa State Park & Nature Preserve and Boise City.
Male Hepatic Tanagers display a stunning red plumage with some gray on the back, while females exhibit a vibrant yellow coloring.
Scientific Name: Piranga flava
Dimensions: 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 migrating to spend the winter in Mexico, Central, and South America.
These birds are often found in mountain ranges with pine or pine and oak woodlands, where they primarily feed on insects and spiders. They also enjoy consuming berries such as cherry and grapes.
12. Pine Grosbeak
While an accidental species in Oklahoma, a few sightings of Pine Grosbeaks have been reported around Shell Lake.
Pine Grosbeaks are a type of finch. The males exhibit a red plumage with gray wings and tail, along with two white wingbars. Females, on the other hand, are primarily gray with dull orange heads and rumps. They are relatively large for finches and possess a slower flying speed.
Scientific Name: Pinicola enucleator
Dimensions: Length – 7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm), Wingspan – 13.0 in (33 cm)
Pine Grosbeaks are primarily found in Canada, but some individuals can be observed along the US border, in the mountainous west, and in the Sierra Nevada region of California.
They inhabit forests dominated by pine, spruce, and fir trees, where they feed on seeds, fruits, and buds. During the summer, they may also consume insects.
To attract Pine Grosbeaks, consider providing black oil sunflower seed feeders or suet feeders.
13. White-winged Crossbill
Considered an accidental or rare species in Oklahoma, White-winged Crossbills have been exceptionally rare sightings in the state, with only eight recorded instances.
White-winged Crossbills are finches with distinctive crossed beaks. The males exhibit a red plumage with black wings and tails, adorned with two white wingbars. Females, in contrast, possess a blend of yellow and brown plumage, also with two white wingbars.
Scientific Name: Loxia leucoptera
Dimensions: 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 primarily inhabit forests in Canada, Alaska, and occasionally northern regions of the United States when cone crops are scarce further north. They can be found in spruce forests, where they feed on seeds.
One fascinating characteristic of White-winged Crossbills is their ability to breed at any time of the year as long as sufficient food resources are available.
These birds are often heard in large flocks, making their presence known.
As you explore the diverse array of red birds in Oklahoma, remember to observe and appreciate their beauty while respecting their habitats and natural behaviors.