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Red Birds in Wisconsin: Types, Identification, and Attracting (2024)

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red birds in wisconsinEnamored by the sight of a crimson bird in Wisconsin? We can help you identify it! From red-headed birds to those with distinctive black and red markings, this guide will outline 8 species of commonly spotted avians that flutter across the Badger State.

For avid ornithologists or aspiring avian biologists, we’ll also provide some helpful tips on how to attract these regal creatures into your backyard.

Key Takeaways

  • Northern Cardinals and Scarlet Tanagers, which have bright red plumage, can be found in Wisconsin.
  • Providing sunflower seeds, suet, and native plants will attract red birds to your backyard.
  • Adding a birdbath or small pond can support red birds by giving them a source of water.
  • Red-Headed Woodpeckers are declining in numbers, so nest boxes can help conserve their population.

Red Birds in Wisconsin: an Overview

Red Birds in Wisconsin: an Overview
You’ll spot a colorful variety of feathered friends flocking to your backyard in Wisconsin, from the familiar Northern Cardinal to rarer visitors like the Summer Tanager. The state is home to over a dozen species of red, orange, and pink birds that bring vibrant color to the landscapes.

Watch for the scarlet plumage of Northern Cardinals visiting feeders year-round. Listen for the metallic poink calls of Common Redpolls in winter as they descend on birch trees to feed. In summer, watch high in oak canopies for Scarlet Tanagers catching insects. Put up fruit and suet feeders to attract Red-headed Woodpeckers.

With a diversity of habitats from forests to wetlands, Wisconsin offers ample areas for red birds to make their home. Providing native plants, nest boxes, and reducing window collisions helps these species thrive.

Red birds reward watchers with beauty, from the crimson crest of a male Cardinal to the soft pink plumage of Cedar Waxwings.

Types of Red Birds in Wisconsin

Types of Red Birds in Wisconsin
My friend, a glimpse of crimson on the wing hints at the diversity of red birds gracing Wisconsin’s skies.

  • The Northern Cardinal with its iconic crest and bright red plumage stands out against winter backdrops.
  • The Scarlet Tanager stops in Wisconsin on its migration sporting brilliant red body plumage contrasting with black wings.
  • If you spot a flash of red high overhead, it may be a vagrant Common Redpoll or Pine Grosbeak, uncommon but exciting finds.

Though elusive, tantalizing flashes of red bring delightful surprises for observant birders. So keep your eyes peeled and binoculars ready to spy Wisconsin’s feathered rubies.

Common Red Birds Found in Wisconsin

Common Red Birds Found in Wisconsin
Northern Cardinals are one of the most easily identifiable and familiar backyard birds in Wisconsin. Look for the bright red male and more muted female visiting feeders year-round. Provide sunflower seeds to attract these backyard beauties.

House Finches have a reddish-brown head, breast, and rump. Watch for flocks of them descending on tube feeders filled with nyjer seed.

Scarlet Tanagers breed in Wisconsin’s deciduous and mixed forests. Listen for their song early summer.

Common Redpolls are red-capped winter finches. They show up irregularly when their arctic and subarctic food sources are scarce.

Red Crossbills have distinctive crossed mandibles adapted for prying seeds from conifer cones.

So keep your eyes peeled for these stunning redbirds brightening up your backyard and nearby woods in Wisconsin!

Red-Headed Birds in Wisconsin

Red-Headed Birds in Wisconsin
There’s a certain magic seeing that fiery red crest light up the drab winter landscape.

  • The dazzling Scarlet Tanager prefers large tracts of mature oak and mixed hardwood forests.
  • The acrobatic Red Headed Woodpecker is sadly declining due to loss of dead trees it needs for nesting.
  • The crested Pyrrhuloxia can rarely be found along the southern border of the state.
  • A lucky sighting of a Red Crossbill means a possible irruption is underway. Report rare sightings to help track movements.
  • The brilliant Painted Bunting is extremely rare but sometimes shows up during migration.

Red and Black Birds in Wisconsin

Red and Black Birds in Wisconsin
Quite surprising is the range of colors black birds add to Wisconsin’s avian splendor.

The following black and partially black birds inhabit the state:

  • Northern Cardinal – A bright red male with black around the face. Well known and loved backyard bird that frequents bird feeders.
  • Red-Winged Blackbird – A mostly black bird with bright red shoulder patches. Found in marshes and meadows.
  • Common Grackle – An iridescent black bird with piercing golden eyes. Often found in noisy flocks.
  • Brown-Headed Cowbird – The male is almost entirely black, while the female is gray-brown.
  • Bobolink – The male is mostly black in breeding plumage, with white on the back. Noted for bubbly songs.

While the splashes of red stand out against their dark plumage, these birds use black in unique ways for camouflage, signaling and display.

Attracting Red Birds to Your Backyard in Wisconsin

Attracting Red Birds to Your Backyard in Wisconsin
You can attract those striking red birds to your Wisconsin backyard by offering their favorite foods and creating an inviting habitat.

Provide sunflower seeds, nyjer thistle, and suet in hopper, tube, and platform feeders to draw colorful finches, tanagers, grosbeaks, and crossbills.

Offer mealworms, berries, and fruit like dogwood and mulberry to entice tanagers and buntings.

Plant native berry bushes and fruit trees to provide natural sources of food.

Add a water feature such as a birdbath or small pond to provide drinking and bathing opportunities.

With careful planning and the right habitat features, you’ll be rewarded with brilliant splashes of scarlet, crimson and vermilion in your own backyard. Take time to appreciate the beauty and behaviors of Wisconsin’s remarkable red birds.


As we have seen, Wisconsin is home to a variety of stunning red birds. These include the stately Northern Cardinal and the brightly-colored Painted Bunting. These birds bring us joy and beauty, and they deserve a place in our lives. To ensure the red birds of Wisconsin are around for generations to come, it’s important to provide them with the habitats and food sources they need.

By setting up bird feeders, providing a bird bath, and planting native plants, we can create a welcoming environment for these amazing creatures. With a little effort, we can ensure the red birds of Wisconsin will remain a vibrant part of our landscape for years to come.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh is a passionate bird enthusiast and author with a deep love for avian creatures. With years of experience studying and observing birds in their natural habitats, Mutasim has developed a profound understanding of their behavior, habitats, and conservation. Through his writings, Mutasim aims to inspire others to appreciate and protect the beautiful world of birds.