Have you seen a bird with a red head in South Carolina, but found it difficult to correctly identify it? OR are you curious to know what other birds with red heads you can see in the state? Then, this is the resource you are looking for.
This article gives you photos and identification guides of 10 red head birds that you can see in South Carolina.
1 – Summer Tanager
Quick Identification Guide of Summer Tanager
- Size: Medium-sized songbird of 7-8 inches in length
- Body color: Males are bright red; females are yellowish-olive to olive-gray
- Bill: Short, stout blunt-tipped bills
- Legs and feet: Grayish-black
The Summer Tanager is the only bird in North America that has entirely red plumage. This colorful bird can be found in the southeastern United States.
The males are easily recognizable with their bright red plumage. But, females are more subdued with their yellowish-olive to olive-gray coloring.
These birds can be found in a variety of habitats including open woodlands, forest edges, and parks with mature trees. Mostly they stay in forest canopies.
Summer Tanagers are known as bee and wasp specialized. They are able to catch these insects in flight. They primarily feed on insects and fruit.
In South Carolina, the Summer Tanager can be seen during the breeding season (from April to October). And during that period, they can be found throughout the state.
2 – Scarlet Tanager
Quick Identification Guide of Scarlet Tanager
- Size: 6-7 inches in length
- Body color: Males have bright red plumage with black wings and tails during breeding and olive-yellow plumage with black wings and tails during non-breeding. Females look similar to non-breeding males but with dark olive-green wings and tails
- Bill: Short and stout
- Legs and feet: Dark gray
The Scarlet Tanager is a small, brightly colored bird found in the eastern United States. The breeding males are easily recognizable with their bright scarlet plumage, while the females are yellow-green.
These birds can be found in a variety of habitats including deciduous and mixed forests. They are hard to see since they stay high in canopies and are a bit sensitive bird to habitat fragmentation.
The Scarlet Tanagers primarily feed on insects and fruit.
In South Carolina, the Scarlet Tanager can be seen during the breeding season. They are commonly found in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge regions of the state. And during the migration, you can see them also in coastal regions.
3 – House Finch
Quick Identification Guide of House Finch
- Size: 5-6 inches in length
- Body color: Males are red on the head, breast, and rump; brown-streaked back and wings; females are grayish-brown with heavy streaking on the breast and belly.
- Bill: Short and conical
- Legs and feet: Grayish-brown
The House Finch is a small, sparrow-like bird that is native to North America. Originally, they are from the western United States and later on spread to the eastern states.
House Finches can be found in a variety of habitats, including residential areas, and are a common sight in urban and suburban areas, as well as in parks and gardens.
They primarily feed on seeds and fruits. In South Carolina, House Finches can be seen year-round throughout the state.
These birds are a favorite among birdwatchers and backyard bird enthusiasts. And they are a joy to watch as they flit around gardens and bird feeders.
4 – Purple Finch
Quick Identification Guide of Purple Finch
- Size: 5-6 inches in length
- Body color: Males are raspberry-red on the head, breast, and back; brown wings and tail; females are brownish-gray with heavy streaking on the breast and belly
- Bill: Short, conical, and powerful bill
- Legs and feet: Brownish-gray
The Purple Finch is a small, sparrow-like bird that is native to North America. They are winter birds in the eastern United States. But, their numbers are in a decline due to the spread of House Finches in eastern regions after the 1950s.
Purple Finches can be found in a variety of habitats, including coniferous and mixed forests, as well as suburban areas. And, in forests, they are hard to see since they stay high in trees. But, you can attract them to your feeders with seeds. They primarily feed on seeds and fruits.
In South Carolina, Purple Finches can be seen in winter months throughout the state.
5 – Red Crossbill
Quick Identification Guide of Red Crossbill
- Size: 7 to 8 inches (16 to 20 cm)
- Body color: Males are overall red in color with darker wings and tails. But, females have yellowish plumage with dark wings.
- Bill: The bill is short and thick, with the upper and lower mandibles crossed at the tip. The size and shape of the bill can vary depending on the type of cone that the bird feeds on, with some individuals having straighter or more curved bills.
- Legs and feet: gray or brownish-gray.
The Red Crossbill is a unique finch species known for its distinctive crossed bill, which is used to pry open the scales of conifer cones to access the seeds inside.
They are found throughout North America, with multiple subspecies that vary in size, bill shape, and vocalizations.
The Red Crossbills are non-migrants and nomadic. Red Crossbills are highly nomadic and may appear suddenly in areas where they were not previously present, making them an exciting bird to spot for birdwatchers.
They can be seen in parks and residential areas with pine trees, particularly during winter when food sources are scarce.
In South Carolina, they can be observed in the non-breeding season in Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions. They feed primarily on conifer seeds and fruit.
6 – Northern Cardinal
Quick Identification Guide of Northern Cardinal
- Size: Approximately 8-9 inches long with a wingspan of 10-12 inches.
- Body color: The male is bright red with a black mask around the eyes and a short crest on his head. The female is mostly pale brown with a crest, wings, and tail tinged with red.
- Bill: Both sexes have a thick, bright orange bill.
- Legs and feet: Grayish-brown legs with strong, sharp claws that allow them to perch on branches and twigs.
Northern Cardinals are commonly found in backyards and gardens in the eastern United States, including South Carolina. They prefer open woodland areas, shrubs, and brushy habitats near water sources.
And, male Northern Cardinals are territorial during breeding and firstly defend their territory from other males. You may have seen them attacking their own reflections in mirrors or other glass surfaces thinking that they see an intruder to their breeding territory.
Their diet consists of seeds, fruits, and insects. Northern Cardinals are year-round residents in South Carolina and can be seen at bird feeders, in parks, and in suburban areas.
7 – Red-headed Woodpecker
Quick Identification Guide of Red-headed Woodpecker
- Size: 7.5 to 9 inches long with a wingspan of 16 to 17 inches
- Body color: Adults (both sexes) have a striking black and white body plumage with a bright red head and neck. Juvenile has similar black and white body plumage, but the head and neck are a duller red.
- Unique distinguishable colors or patterns: Bold, black and white striped back and wings with white underparts. In flight, shows a prominent white patch on the wings.
- Bill: Stout and pointed bill that is shorter than the head.
- Legs and feet: Short, strong legs and feet with two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker native to North America. Its striking black, white, and bright red plumage makes it easy to spot. And it is a common resident in the eastern parts of the United States.
This species is typically found in open habitats, such as woodlands, orchards, and farmland. And it has a quite distinctive flight pattern that includes a prominent white patch on its wings.
Red-headed Woodpeckers are also known for their unique feeding habits and are often seen catching insects in mid-air or storing nuts and acorns in tree cavities for later consumption.
Despite being a relatively common species, their numbers have declined in recent years due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Therefore, it is important to protect their habitats and conserve this beautiful bird.
You can see Red-headed Woodpeckers year-round in all regions of South Carolina.
8 – Pileated Woodpecker
Quick Identification Guide of Pileated Woodpecker
- Size: Large woodpecker. Approximately 16-19 inches in length and 26-30 inches in wingspan.
- Body color: Mostly black with white stripes on the face and neck, a large red crest on the head, and white underwings. Males and females both have red crests on the head. But only males have a red stripe on the cheek.
- Bill: Long, chisel-like bill for drilling into wood
- Legs and feet: black legs, and feet.
The Pileated Woodpecker is a striking bird that is native to North America. They can be found across most of the United States and Canada, including South Carolina.
These woodpeckers are primarily found in mature forests with large trees that they can excavate for nesting and foraging.
They are the largest woodpecker in North America and are easily recognizable by their distinctive red crest on their head, black and white striped face and neck, and their long, chisel-like bill.
Pileated Woodpeckers feed mainly on insects found in dead or dying trees and will also eat fruits and nuts.
Despite their large size, they are often heard before they are seen, as they have a loud, distinctive call.
Pileated Woodpeckers are an important part of the forest ecosystem, as they help control insect populations and create nesting sites for other species of birds and mammals.
In South Carolina, they can be seen year-round in all regions.
9 – Red-bellied Woodpecker
Quick Identification Guide of Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Size: Approximately 9-10 inches long, with a wingspan of 13-17 inches.
- Body color: Mostly black and white, with a red patch on the nape of the neck and a red wash on the belly (more prominent in males). Only males have a red crown.
- Distinguishable colors or patterns: Black and white striped back and wings, white underparts, and a black and white striped face with a white eye ring.
- Bill: Strong and chisel-like for drilling into wood, approximately 1-1.5 inches long.
- Legs and feet: Gray-black, with two toes facing forward and two facing backward for better gripping on trees.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a common species of woodpecker found in the eastern half of North America.
They can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, wooded suburbs, and parks.
They are omnivorous, feeding on insects, nuts, fruits, and seeds. And they can often be seen foraging on tree trunks and branches.
The red wash on their bellies can be difficult to see in some lighting conditions, but their distinctive black and white striped back and wings, along with their red nape and eye-ring, make them easy to identify.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are also known for their loud, rolling call, which can often be heard before they are seen.
You can see them throughout South Carolina year-round.
10 – Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Quick Identification Guide of Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
- Size: Approximately 7-8 inches long, with a wingspan of 13-16 inches.
- Body color: Black and white with a bright red forehead and yellow belly. Males have red throats, but females’ throats are white.
- Distinguishable colors or patterns: Black and white striped head and back, white underparts, and a black band on the throat and breast. Males have a red throat patch while females have a white throat and a smaller red forehead patch.
- Bill: Short and chisel-like for drilling into trees, approximately 1 inch long.
- Legs and feet: Grayish-blue with two toes facing forward and two facing backward for better gripping on trees.
The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are migratory birds that breed in boreal forests across North America, including Canada and the northeastern United States.
And, they winter in the southeastern United States, including South Carolina. They are named for their habit of drilling small holes in trees and feeding on the sap that flows out, as well as the insects that are attracted to the sap. They also eat fruits and berries.
The yellow belly and red forehead and red throat of the adult male make it easy to identify. And the female has a white throat and a smaller red forehead patch.
They are often found in wooded areas, especially near water sources, and their drumming and calling can be heard throughout the day.
In South Carolina, you can see them throughout the state during the non-breeding season. Their black and white striped head and back, along with their distinctive red forehead and yellow belly, make them a striking bird to spot.
Summary of Information about Birds with Red Heads in South Carolina!
The following table summarizes the best times of the year and the best regions in South Carolina to see each above-listed bird.
In addition, you can refer to this table to get information on these birds such as the length, wingspan, and food preferences as well.
|Bird with Red Heads||Place and time of the year to see them in South Carolina||Length||Wingspan||Food|
|Summer Tanager||All regions – breeding season||about 7-8 inches||about 11-12 inches||Omnivores – Mainly insects (popular as bee and wasp eaters), and at times, berries and fruits|
|Scarlet Tanager||Piedmont and Blue Ridge regions – breeding Coastal regions – migration||about 6-7 inches||about 9.5-11.5 inches||Omnivores – Mainly insects, and at times, berries and fruits|
|House Finch||All regions – year-round||about 5-6 inches||about 8-10 inches||Herbivore – Seeds, berries, fruits|
|Purple Finch||All regions – non-breeding season||about 4.5-6.5 inches||about 8-10 inches||Omnivores – Mainly insects, seeds, and berries|
|Red Crossbill||Blue Ridge region – non-breeding season||about 8 inches||about 11-12 inches||Herbivore – Seeds, buds of trees, berries|
|Northern Cardinal||All regions – year-round||about 8-9.5 inches||about 10-12 inches||Omnivores – Seeds, berries, frutis, leaf buds, insects|
|Red-headed Woodpecker||All regions – year-round||about 7.5-9.5 inches||about 16.5 inches||Omnivores – Insects, spiders, earthworms, nuts, seeds, berries|
|Pileated Woodpecker||All regions – year-round||about 15-19.5 inches||about 26-29.5 inches||Omnivores – Carpenter ants, termites, flies, nuts and fruits.|
|Red-bellied Woodpecker||All regions – year-round||about 9.5 inches||about 13-16.5 inches||Omnivores – Arboreal arthropods, invertebrates, nuts, seeds, berries.|
|Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker||All regions – Non-breeding||about 7-9 inches||about 13-16 inches||Omnivores – Insects, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds.|
Now, it’s time to explore!
So, now you have the required information to correctly identify birds with red heads in South Carolina. And, you can find more information such as actual sighting and range data of all the listed birds from ebird and all about birds.
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