While we often associate the colour combination of black and red with high-end fashion, there are some stunning creatures who wear these colours just as well, if not better. Birds from all over the world showcase this striking duo, with feathers that gleam in the sunlight, showing off this vibrant contrast.
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From the scarlet macaw to the Rufous-capped Warbler, these winged wonders prove that black and red aren’t just for the runway. So take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of these 13 birds and their ability to rock this classic colour combination with ease.
13 Black and Red Birds
Feather colors: Red and black
Weight: 1.5 – 1.7 oz
Length: 8.3 – 9.1 in
Wingspan: 9.8 – 12.2 in
Colouration and Identification: The Northern cardinal, a melodious medium-sized bird, is renowned for its vibrant plumage. Male adults exhibit a striking all-red feathering, complemented by a small black facial mask and a lighter red beak. Females, on the other hand, possess a reddish olive plumage, with red wings and tails. Notably, they also possess a distinctive cluster of bright red feathers atop their diminutive heads.
Distribution and Habitat: Northern cardinals are permanent residents of the North American continent, maintaining a widespread presence across the United States, Mexico, certain regions of Canada, Northern Guatemala, and Belize. These avian creatures thrive in a variety of environments, including woodlands, marshes, wetlands, shrublands, suburban areas, and even domestic gardens.
Nesting: These birds construct their nests within dense bushes, shrubs, and vines, typically positioned 3 to 10 feet above ground level.
Diet: Adult Northern cardinals primarily consume seeds, grains, fruits, and especially berries. However, during their early stages of development, young Northern cardinals rely on an insect-based diet. In the winter months, their dietary preferences become more flexible, encompassing a wider range of food sources.
Feather colors: Black, red, white
Weight: 1.4 – 2.6 oz
Length: 7.1 – 9.4 in
Wingspan: 10.2 – 13.0
Colouration and Identification: Tricolored blackbird males bear a striking resemblance to red-winged blackbirds in terms of appearance. These males boast glossy black plumage, with a distinctive patch of white and reddish-orange on their wings. Conversely, females do not exhibit black and red colouration; instead, they sport brownish-black plumage with white-striped underparts.
Distribution and Habitat: Tricolored blackbirds are native exclusively to the state of California. They predominantly inhabit marshes and wetlands, finding solace in these particular environments.
Nesting: Female tricoloured blackbirds exhibit a nesting behaviour that involves constructing their nests along watercourses, typically within dense bushes or vegetation. These nests can be found either on the ground or elevated up to 8 feet.
Diet: Adult tricoloured blackbirds primarily feed on grains, occasionally supplementing their diet with insects, and rarely indulging in small marine creatures such as clams. However, the young ones predominantly rely on a diet consisting of clams, snails, and spiders.
Crimson Collared Tanagers
Feather colors: Red and black
Weight: 1.2 – 1.7 oz
Length: 7.5 – 8 in
Wingspan: 11.1 – 13.1 in
Colouration and Identification: The striking crimson-collared tanagers possess an unmistakable appearance. These melodious birds showcase jet-black wings and tails, and as their name suggests, they exhibit a vibrant red plumage encircling their shoulders, throat, and neck, resembling a distinctive collar.
Distribution and Habitat: Crimson-collared tanagers inhabit regions spanning Mexico, Central America, and Western Panama. They prefer the lush environment of humid evergreen forests, which provides them with the ideal habitat for their survival.
Nesting: These songbirds construct well-concealed nests within the heart of trees situated in evergreen forests, strategically close to water sources. Crimson-collared tanagers that establish nests near lakes and creeks utilize moss as one of the key materials in their nest-building process.
Diet: Crimson-collared tanagers display an omnivorous feeding habit. They consume a varied diet consisting of arthropods, seeds, fruits, and berries, ensuring they derive nutrition from both animal and plant sources.
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Feather colors: White, black, and red
Weight: 1.2 – 2.3 oz
Length: 7.1 – 8.7 in
Wingspan: 11 – 13 in
Colouration and Identification: Rose-breasted grosbeaks exhibit sexual dimorphism. Adult males boast a striking colouration consisting of black plumage on their heads, necks, backs, and wings. Additionally, their wings feature distinctive white stripes. Their chests are adorned with vibrant red feathers, while their underbellies sport a pristine white hue. In terms of beak colouration, both males and females possess pale beaks.
In contrast, females lack any red plumage. They possess brown heads, backs, and wings, with white underbellies adorned with brown stripes. Like the males, their beaks also exhibit a pale shade.
Distribution and Habitat: Rose-breasted grosbeaks have a wide distribution across the North American continent, along with certain regions of South America. They can be found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia. These adaptable birds inhabit a range of environments, including coniferous forests, bottomland forests, upland deciduous forests, gardens, orchards, and parks.
Nesting: These birds construct their nests in the forks of branches in trees or shrubs, typically positioned 6 to 26 feet above the ground.
Diet: Rose-breasted grosbeaks have a varied diet that includes fruits, berries, flower buds, insects, and seeds. They are opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of a wide range of food sources available to them.
Feather colors: Cream, red, grey, and black
Weight: 2.0 – 2.3 oz
Length: 9.4 in
Wingspan: 13.0 – 16.5 in
Colouration and Identification: Red-bellied woodpeckers display identical plumage colours in both males and females. They possess a creamy underbelly, wings, and back adorned with black and white stripes, and a distinctive patch of red feathers on their lower undersides. However, there are slight differences between the sexes. Female red-bellied woodpeckers showcase a bright red colouration on the back of their necks, while their heads exhibit a grey hue. In contrast, male red-bellied woodpeckers boast a red nape that extends to the beginning of their beaks.
Distribution and Habitat: Red-bellied woodpeckers are native exclusively to the Eastern United States, with a limited extension into Canadian territory. They thrive in deciduous forests situated in proximity to rivers and streams. Additionally, these woodpeckers can be found in plantations, gardens, and parks.
Nesting: Male and female red-bellied woodpeckers collaborate in the construction of their nests. Males select the site, excavate it, and present it to the female for approval. The female then lays her eggs directly on the leftover wood chips resulting from the excavation process. Nests are typically located 8 to 20 feet above the ground, built within dead trees, live trees, or even poles.
Diet: Red-bellied woodpeckers possess an omnivorous diet, encompassing a variety of food sources. They feed on insects, fruits, seeds, and nuts, ensuring a diverse and well-rounded nutritional intake.
Feather colors: Red and black
Weight: 0.8 – 1.3 oz
Length: 6.3 – 6.7 in
Wingspan: 9.8 – 11.4 in
Colouration and Identification: During the breeding season, male Scarlet Tanagers showcase a striking all-red plumage, accompanied by beady black eyes, black wings, and a black tail. In contrast, females lack vibrant red colouration and instead possess an olive plumage. After the breeding season, males moult into a plumage resembling that of the females, with the addition of black wings.
Distribution and Habitat: Scarlet tanagers inhabit regions across Eastern North America, the Caribbean, and Northwestern South America. In the winter months, they seek refuge in montane forests. However, for the majority of the year, they can be found in woodlands, suburban areas, parks, and gardens.
Nesting: Female Scarlet Tanagers take charge of nest construction, typically locating their nests 20 to 30 feet above the ground at the edge of a horizontal deciduous tree branch.
Diet: While primarily insectivorous, these birds occasionally supplement their diet with berries and fruits, showcasing a flexible feeding behaviour that extends beyond their main source of insects.
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Feather colors: White, black, and red
Weight: 8.8 – 12.3 oz
Length: 15.8 – 19.3 in
Wingspan: 26.0 – 29.5 in
Colouration and Identification: Pileated woodpeckers possess striking black and white plumage. Their backs, wings, and undersides are predominantly black, while a distinctive white band delineates the lower and upper regions, extending from their beaks and trailing beneath their wings. Males exhibit a touch of red in the area preceding their beaks, but the most remarkable feature of these woodpeckers is their vibrant red punk-styled crest.
Distribution and Habitat: Pileated woodpeckers are year-round residents of southern Canada, as well as the Western and Eastern United States. They thrive in habitats characterized by dense vegetation consisting of tall trees, including heavily wooded parks. However, they do not fare well in shrubland environments.
Nesting: Pileated woodpeckers prefer to construct their nests by excavating holes in tall, dead trees within mature forests. These nest cavities are typically positioned 60 to 95 feet above the ground and feature two entrances.
Diet: Pileated woodpeckers predominantly feed on insects, earning them the label of insectivores. Their diet includes ants, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and termites, as they utilize their strong beaks and agile foraging skills to capture their prey.
Feather colors: Red, black, cream
Weight: 1.1 – 2 7 oz
Length: 6.7 – 9.1 in
Wingspan: 12.2 – 15.8 in
Colouration and Identification: Red-winged blackbirds share similarities with tricoloured blackbirds in terms of their all-black plumage, wings, eyes, and beaks. However, the red and cream band adorning their shoulders is more prominent compared to tricoloured blackbirds. In contrast, female red-winged blackbirds exhibit a more sparrow-like appearance, showcasing brown and cream striped plumage.
Distribution and Habitat: Red-winged blackbirds can be found across various regions of North America, including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and certain Caribbean countries. They inhabit areas surrounding both fresh and salt waters, such as cultivated fields, prairies, and bushes.
Nesting: These blackbirds construct their nests in marshes or dense grasses within fields that are in close proximity to water sources. Due to their preference for lower elevations, their nests are typically positioned in a vertical orientation.
Diet: Red-winged blackbirds have a diverse diet, encompassing a range of food sources. They consume seeds from grains, grasses, weeds, berries, and fruits, while also preying on insects like grasshoppers. Their adaptable feeding habits allow them to exploit both plant-based and animal-based resources.
Masked Crimson Tanagers
Feather colors: Red and black
Weight: 0.9 – 1.2 oz
Length: 7 – 7.5 in
Wingspan: 10.1 – 11.8 in
Colouration and Identification: The masked crimson tanager is a stunning bird with a distinctive black and red colouration. Its plumage resembles that of a pet dressed in vibrant attire. The top of its head, lower back, neck, breast, and flanks exhibit a vibrant red hue, creating a striking contrast with the glossy black colouration of its upper back, lower underside, face, and wings. Female masked crimson tanagers feature a dirty brown plumage, accompanied by a reddish-brown lower backside.
Distribution and Habitat: Masked crimson tanagers inhabit various South American countries, including Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil. They thrive in tropical swamps and moist shrublands, which serve as their preferred habitats.
Nesting: These tanagers construct their nests at the edges of oxbow lakes, which are characteristic features of the Amazon region. The specific location of the nests within this environment provides suitable conditions for breeding and raising their young.
Diet: Masked crimson tanagers are primarily frugivorous, with fruits forming the main component of their diet. However, they occasionally supplement their diet with insects, adding a varied element to their feeding habits.
Weight: 2.0 – 3.2 oz
Length: 7.5 – 9.1 in
Wingspan: 16.5 in
Colouration and Identification: Red-headed woodpeckers boast one of the most captivating plumages in our selection. With their vibrant redheads, necks, throats, and brilliant white bodies, they are truly eye-catching. The wings of a red-headed woodpecker are adorned with a deep blue-black hue, featuring a distinct square-shaped white patch at the tips. However, juveniles exhibit different colouring, with a brownish-black head and a sprinkling of black on their necks.
Distribution and Habitat: Native to Southeast Canada and the central and eastern regions of the United States, red-headed woodpeckers can be found in a range of habitats. They thrive in grasslands with a scattering of trees, as well as orchards, clearings near forests, woodlands, rivers, parks, suburban backyards, and open areas.
Nesting: Similar to other woodpecker species, red-headed woodpeckers construct their nests within excavated holes in old trees. These nests are typically situated at a height of 23 to 39 feet above the ground, providing a secure location for breeding and rearing their young.
Diet: Red-headed woodpeckers exhibit omnivorous feeding habits, consuming a diverse range of food items. Their diet includes fruits, seeds, nuts, and berries, as well as insects, eggs, and even the young of other birds. During winter, they may visit bird feeders, offering a delightful sight for bird enthusiasts.
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Feather colors: Red, black and white
Weight: 1.9 – 2.2 oz
Length: 7.9 – 8.7 in
Wingspan: 14.6 – 16.0 in
Colouration and Identification: Red-breasted sapsuckers showcase a remarkable and intricate colouration. Both males and females display a vibrant red patch of plumage on their heads, breasts, and necks. Their underparts are adorned in pristine white, extending in a seamless line up to the top of their beaks. The wings exhibit a striking blueish-black hue with delicate speckles of white.
Distribution and Habitat: Red-breasted sapsuckers inhabit the western regions of North America, spanning from the United States to Canada. During the winter season, they undertake migratory journeys to coastal areas of California and Baja California. Throughout the rest of the year, they find their homes in coniferous forests and woodlands.
Nesting: Both female and male red-breasted sapsuckers engage in the excavation of holes within deciduous trees and conifers, regardless of whether they are alive or deceased. These nests are typically situated at heights ranging from 50 to 60 feet, providing a secure and elevated location for breeding and raising their young.
Diet: Red-breasted sapsuckers possess diverse dietary preferences. They primarily feed on a wide variety of insects, occasionally supplementing their diet with tree sap, berries, and fruits. Their adaptable feeding habits allow them to exploit various food sources throughout their habitat.
Feather colors: Red and black
Weight: 0.3 – 0.4 oz
Length: 5 .1 – 5.5 in
Wingspan: 9.5 – 10 in
Colouration and Identification: The adult male Vermillion flycatchers are striking birds with a fiery appearance. Their plumage exhibits a vibrant red or reddish-orange hue, accompanied by contrasting black head patches and tails. These colours create a captivating visual display. Conversely, female and juvenile flycatchers display a more subdued appearance, with dull, light brown plumage.
Distribution and Habitat: Vermillion flycatchers are distributed throughout the South American continent, extending into Mexico and parts of the United States. They are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical forests, moist forests, savannas, dry forests, woodlands, and shrublands.
Nesting: Female Vermillion flycatchers construct shallow nests using twigs and soft materials. These nests are typically positioned at a height of 8 to 20 feet above the ground, often in the forks of trees. This provides a secure and elevated location for breeding and raising their young.
Please note that the term “Vermillion” is commonly spelt as “Vermilion” as well.
Feather colors: Black and white
Weight: 35.3 – 67.0 oz
Length: 35 – 44.9 in
Wingspan: 85.4 – 88.2 in
Colouration and Identification: Among the stunning black and red birds, the Magnificent frigatebirds stand out as truly remarkable. These birds have glossy black feathers and slender bodies, complemented by long, slender, and hooked bills. The males possess a distinctive red pouch beneath their throats. During the breeding season, this sac undergoes an impressive transformation, inflating to attract potential mates. In contrast, females display a white patch in place of the red sac.
Distribution and Habitat: Magnificent frigatebirds have a wide distribution, inhabiting coastal regions across North America, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa. They thrive in tropical and subtropical waters, where they can find suitable nesting and feeding grounds.
Nesting: Female Magnificent frigatebirds construct their nests at various heights, ranging from the tops of low trees, coral reeds, and bushes on islands to even nesting directly on the ground. Nesting sites may be situated 2 to 20 feet above the ground, providing a secure location for breeding and raising their young.
Diet: Magnificent frigatebirds are adept at capturing food while in mid-air. Their diet primarily consists of jellyfish, crustaceans, small fish, and squid. Interestingly, they are known for their clever ability to steal food from other birds during aerial encounters.
Please note that the term “Magnificent” in “Magnificent frigatebirds” is often spelt as “Magnificent” or “Magnificent.”
Black and red birds are some of the most striking birds in the world, with their vibrant plumage and stunning markings. From the Northern cardinal to the tricoloured blackbird, these birds can be found in various parts of the world. One bird that is particularly noteworthy is the red-bellied woodpecker, which can be spotted in North America’s eastern regions.
Meanwhile, the vermilion flycatcher is a beautiful bird found in South America that sports bright red plumage and a black mask. With so many unique and awe-inspiring black and red birds, it’s no wonder why birdwatchers are always thrilled to catch a glimpse of them.
An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.