The Complete List of 7.5 Birds With Red Heads
There are many birds that have areas of red plumage on their bodies. Some have red feathers in their wings or tail or a red breast. Some birds have red eyes or red feet. This article concerns birds whose heads are entirely red. Some birds have a cap of red, or a streak of red, or a spot of red on their head. Sometimes they have a red head but the red spills down to cover much of the breast or the back like a cape. A handful of birds are red all over. As for the birds on this list, the red is only and completely on their head. The following are 7.5 birds with red heads.
1. Australian Brush Turkey
The reason why this bird’s head is red isn’t because of its feathers. It’s because its head is naked, and the red is the color of its bare skin. This large bird, Alectura lathami isn’t related to the wild turkey found in America. as they are of an entirely different genus.
The Australian brush turkey is a large bird that’s about 23.5 to 29.5 inches long with a 33 inch wingspan. Besides its red head it has a black body with a white belly with dark species. Its tail is large, shaped like a fan and flattened laterally like the tail of a chicken. Males bear wattles that become more prominent during the breeding season. Like the chicken, the Australian brush turkey is a clumsy flier. It will fly to gain a roost in a tree for the night or to escape a predator.
The bird builds huge nests that can be close to 5 feet high and 14 feet across. The male builds this nest on the ground. Females come to the nest to lay their eggs communally. Eventually, as many as 50 eggs can be deposited in one nest.
The Bush Turkey’s Delightfully Weird Reproductive Strategy
The parents don’t incubate the eggs, but the eggs are kept warm from the heat of the decomposing vegetation that make up the nest. The male makes sure the temperature’s right by sticking his beak into the mound and adding or subtracting material to make sure it stays between 91 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Amazingly, the sex of the chicks is determined by the temperature of the nest, something that happens fairly frequently with reptiles but not birds. An equal number of males and females are born when the temperature is maintained at 93.2 degrees F. If it’s cooler, more males are born. If it’s warmer, more females are born.
The chicks need to dig themselves out of the nest after they hatch. They already have their flight feathers and when the feathers dry, they’re ready to fly. The conservation status of the Australian brush turkey is least concern.
2. Turkey Vulture
This vulture’s head is red for the same reason as the Australian brush turkey’s. Its head is naked. However, in the case of the turkey vulture, the head is naked so feathers won’t be fouled when the carrion eating bird sticks its head into a carcass. It is a wide ranging vulture, and you’ll find it from southern Canada to the very ends of South America. The turkey vulture’s scientific name is Cathartes aura, and it has five subspecies.
- C. aura aura
- C. aura jota
- C. aura meridionalis
- C. aura ruficollis
- C. aura septentrionalis
The turkey vulture’s body is about as large as the Australian brush turkey’s at 24 to 32 inches, and its feathers are also mostly black. The difference is in the wingspan. The vulture can have a wingspan of 63 to 72 inches, and these wings allow the vulture to soar and glide as it looks for, and smells for, a meal that’s just beginning to decompose. It is unusual for a bird to use its sense of smell to find food, and since other types of vultures such as black vultures and condors can’t smell carrion, they often follow the turkey vulture to a carcass. Who gets to eat first depends on the size of the vulture. The conservation status is least concern.
3. Red-headed Barbet
This little bird who’s about 6 inches long and weighs a little over an ounce is found in Central America and northern South America. It’s the male barbet who has the red head. The head of the female is green and yellow with a patch of blue. Besides his red head, the male has an orange or yellow breast, a green back separated from the red head by a white band, and a white belly. Eubucco bourcierii is found in the forests and builds nests in tree cavities, where the female lays between two and five eggs. She’ll incubate them during the night, but both parents incubate the eggs during the day. The red-headed barbet’s conservation status is least concern.
There are six subspecies:
- E. bourcierii bourcierii
- E. bourcierii salvini
- E. bourcierii anomalus
- E. bourcierii occidentalis
- E. bourcierii aequatorialis
- E. bourcierii orientalis
4. Red-capped Manakin
This little bird who lives in the tropical and subtropical forests of Central America is famous not just for its red head but for the dance the male performs during courtship. It’s described as a moonwalk.
This tiny bird is only about 4 inches long and weighs a little over a half an ounce. It’s the male who has the red head which contrasts beautifully with its deep black plumage, yellow chin, yellow thigh feathers, and a rather staring white iris. The female is olive drab. The bird’s scientific name is Ceratopipra mentalis, and there are three subspecies:
- C. mentalis mentalis
- C. mentalis ignifera
- C. mentalis minor
The red-capped manakin’s conservation status is least concern.
5. Red-Headed Woodpecker
This medium-sized woodpecker is native to North America and lives in open habitats from the south of Canada to the midwestern United States. The bird is unmistakable for its head is an almost glossy scarlet. This contrasts with its black back, black tail, white belly, and black wings that are white underneath. The bird is between 7.5 and 9.8 inches long and has a nearly 17 inch wingspan. The red-headed woodpecker weighs from 2 to 3.4 ounces, and its beak is shaped like a chisel to make it easier to excavate nest cavities in trees. The bird prefers to build nests in dead trees, and the female lays between three and 10 eggs. The woodpecker’s breeding season lasts from April till July.
You’ll find the red-headed woodpecker at the edges of forests, in orchards, savannas, and even parks. They prefer any place that has a few big, tall, dead trees. The bird is an omnivore and east insects and other invertebrates such a earthworms. It also eats acorns, seeds and fruit. Now and then it will take a mouse and even steal the eggs and chicks of sparrows, chickadees, and bluebirds. Its conservation status is least concern, an improvement from 2018 when it was listed as near threatened.
6. Red-crested Cardinal and Red-cowled Cardinal
Since the northern cardinal is red all over, it doesn’t quite fit this article. But the red-crested cardinal, Paroaria coronata only has red on its head and a bit on its throat. Besides, the two birds aren’t even closely related. The northern cardinal belongs to the Cardinalidae family, while the red-crested cardinal belongs to the Thraupidae and is actually a type of tanager. Its close relative is another of the birds with red heads, the red-cowled cardinal.
The red-crested cardinal grows to be around 7.5 inches long, and males and females look alike. Like the red-headed woodpecker, it’s an omnivore and eats insects, seeds and fruit.
Paroaria coronata is from South America and is mostly found in Brazil, though it’s been introduced to other places such as Puerto Rico. The red-cowled cardinal, P. dominicana is only found in Brazil. The conservation status of both birds is least concern.
You’ll find this diving duck, Aythya americana in wetlands in much of North America and in some places in the Caribbean such as Cuba. Only the males have the coppery or mahogany red head, and they only display it during the breeding season. Not only this, their bills also turn blue during the breeding season which starts in late April and ends in early June.
The redhead is about 15 inches long, has a 33 inch wingspan and weighs between 2 and 2.5 pounds. The females are a little smaller than the males. This duck is built to dive underwater to look for food. To this end, they’ve evolved legs that are further back on their body, they have larger webs on their feet, and their hind toe is lobed. Their bills are wider than the bills of other ducks to make it easier to forage for aquatic plants and animals. The one downside is the placement of their legs makes walking on land difficult for redhead ducks.
Redheads build their nests out of tough plant material over or at least near water. They are lackadaisical about defending their territory, and it’s not unheard of for females to lay their eggs in another female’s nest. A female redhead lays about 13 eggs in a season. The male plays no part in raising the chicks, and the mother abandons them when they’re about two months old, well before they’re able to fly.
What redheads eat depends on the season. When they’re breeding, they need animal protein and eat snails and mollusks. When they fly south for the winter, they eat aquatic or semi-aquatic plants such as widgeon grass. The conservation status of the redhead is least concern.