The House Finch, the most common and widespread of the three, typically has a red head, breast, and rump, but does not have red coloring on its brown back or wings. This helps to differentiate it from the other two. Female House Finches have blurrier streaks and grayer undersides than the other two species.
A bird with a bright red head of feathers is likely going to be one of the following types: woodpeckers, the Cherry-headed Conure, a tanager, a redpoll, or the northern cardinal.
The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a common bird in many areas of the Pacific Northwest. They visit yards and feeders and are visually striking. In the wild, flickers can be seen most commonly around standing trees that are dead or dying.
The red-headed finch (Amadina erythrocephala) (also known as the paradise finch) is a common species of estrildid finch found in Africa. It has an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,600,000 km2. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Downy Woodpecker (Male)
At just 6 to 7 inches long, these birds can be difficult to spot, but they are common in forests, urban areas, parks, and other habitats. Male downy woodpeckers feature a bright red patch on the back of the head.
Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face.
Hawks do not have red heads. If you see a bird of prey with a red head, it is most likely a turkey vulture. Turkey vultures are very similar in size to red-tailed hawks. However, vultures tend to wobble when they fly- hawks have a steadier flight.
Small, nondescript brown bird with a short tail, thin bill, and dark barring on wings and tail with a paler throat.
Male. Pileated Woodpeckers are larger than Red-headed Woodpeckers with a red crest and dark back. They also lack the white wing patches seen on the folded wings of Red-headed Woodpeckers.
The Pileated Woodpecker has a red head in the form of a bright red crest against a predominantly black body with white stripes. It can be found in Eastern states and along the coast in the north-west. It is a large bird being nearly the size of a crow and prefers dead wood to forage for carpenter ants.
Finches have smaller, more delicate bills that are more sharply pointed. Sparrows generally have longer tails that they are more apt to actively flash, wag, or wave. Finches have shorter tails that are generally narrower, and they do not flash their tails as frequently.
Flicker Native American Symbolism
In Native American traditions, flickers are lucky birds associated with healing, medicine, and visitors. Additionally, the flicker’s plumage associates these birds with the sun. The Lenape tradition associates flickers with symbiosis, balance, and nurturing.
Northern Flickers in western North America have red under the tail and wings, where Gilded Flickers are yellow. Northern Flickers also have less brown on the head than Gilded Flickers.
Red-shafted Flickers have gray heads, throats, and napes, and their foreheads are brown. Male Red-shafted Flickers have red moustaches; the moustaches of females are pale brown.
Basic Description. A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive.
Meaning: Someone who is a Grey Cardinal exerts power behind the scenes, without drawing attention to himself or herself.
Cardinal look-alike birds are pyrrhuloxias, phainopeplas, vermilion flycatchers, scarlet tanagers, summer tanagers, and more. Surprisingly, a pyrrhuloxia could be confused with a female northern cardinal, since they’re quite similar.
Measurements. In spring and summer, adult males are an unmistakable, brilliant red with black wings and tails. Females and fall immatures are olive-yellow with darker olive wings and tails. After breeding, adult males molt to female-like plumage, but with black wings and tail.
The most common cousins of downy woodpeckers are northern flickers, red-breasted sapsuckers, red-naped sapsuckers, Williamson’s sapsuckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, hairy woodpeckers, great-spotted woodpeckers, red-headed woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, pileated woodpecker, and more.
Flickers appear brownish overall with a white rump patch that’s conspicuous in flight and often visible when perched. The undersides of the wing and tail feathers are bright yellow, for eastern birds, or red, in western birds.