7 Small Backyard Birds with Red Beak

In the avian world, the focus is almost always on the color of the plumage, the color of the beak doesn’t seem to have that much importance.

Males of bird species will often display the colors of their plumage in various mating rituals to successfully attract a mate.

The color of the beak doesn’t get too much importance, yet it’s a feature that can help tell similar bird species apart, for example.

You might not have noticed, but beak coloration can also vary from bird species to bird species. And red beaks can be a particularly attractive feature.

In this article, I cover 7 small backyard birds with red beaks.

Northern Cardinal

Possibly the most iconic songbird in Northern America, the Northern Cardinal sports flaming red plumage that’s hard to miss.

The bird is red all over including the crest on its head. Even the beak is a red-orange color. Only the face is black.

You can spot these flaming red birds foraging in low shrubs and trees, or on the ground. Because they’re non-migratory, you can even spot them in winter. When in flight, they’re a sight to behold, especially against the winter backdrop.

They’re also a frequent visitor to your backyard and will happily feed on seeds you leave out in your bird feeders.

Although the female Northern Cardinal is not as colorful as the male, the plumage of the female still features a warm brown color with red tones on wings and crest. The beak is also red.

Most of a Northern Cardinal’s diet consists of vegetable matter including seeds of weeds and grasses, leaf buds, waste grains. It also feeds on insects, especially beetles, grasshoppers, true bugs, flies, ants, caterpillars, and more.

They’re abundant in the south-eastern part of North America, they typically stay in their breeding ground even throughout the winter.

Zebra Finch

Zebra finches make excellent pet birds when kept in pairs. They’re touted as the ultimate beginner-friendly bird. They’re also extremely cute and colorful birds.

Widespread across the Australian mainland, this finch is instantly recognizable after the zebra stripes you can spot in its bib and tail.

But there are other distinctive features that stand out even sooner than the Zebra stripes, namely the red-orange beak, the white and black ‘mustache’-like mark on its face, rusty red marks on the cheeks, and the rusty white spotted flanks. Females of the species are much less colorful.

They’re non-migratory and spend their time in flocks of around 100 birds. They feed on grass seeds and insects. Insects are especially sought out when feeding their young.

An endearing fact about these little birds is that they mate for life. The female selects the nesting site and gathers the materials and builds the nest. However, both the male and the female take turns in caring for the eggs and the nestlings.

Although they can be found in a wide range of habitats, they’re mostly concentrated around dry wooded grasslands that border watercourses.

Red-browed Finch

Another small bird with a red beak, the Red-browed Finch is native to the east coast of Australia. You can spot this bird in the dense vegetation along creeks, because it needs adequate shrub density for cover.

The name comes from the bright red stripe above the eye. The beak of this finch is also red as well as the marks at the base of the tail. Females and males look the same.

As a highly sociable bird, the Red-brown Finch is often seen foraging the ground for seeds of grass and other weeds, usually in flocks of 10-20 individuals.

Besides the seeds of grasses, they also eat insects and berries. They’ll take non-native seeds as well such as those available at bird feeders.

Nests are built above the ground in dense vegetation. They’re woven from grass and small twigs into a domed shape and feature a side entrance.

Unlike many other examples in the avian world, Red-browed finches take a communal approach to nest-building, incubation, and taking care of their young.

Both the male and the female build the nest together, take turns incubating the eggs, and both participate in the raising of their young.

Common Waxbill

Popular even as a bird that can be raised in captivity, the Common Waxbill is originally from sub saharan Africa, but today has a global occurrence of 10,000,000 km2.

Besides the islands around Africa, the Common Waxbill is also found in the Iberic Island, Trinidad, Brazil, Taiwan and some islands in the Pacific.

These birds feed on grass seeds and the seeds of various weeds. They’re spotted foraging in flocks with hundreds if not thousands of birds.

The bill of the Common Waxbill is the color of red sealing wax, hence the name of the bird. The two red stripes through the eyes are also an identifying feature of this bird.

The rest of the plumage is gray and white, finely striped with brown. The throat is a lighter color and it’s unstriped.

Although seeds make up most of the Common waxbill’s diet, insects are also occasionally eaten, especially in the breeding season when a higher intake of protein is needed.

Because seeds don’t contain enough water, these birds need to drink regularly. It’s also one of the reasons they’re often found near water.

Java Sparrow

Also known as the Java finch, the Java Sparrow is native to the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali, and Bawean. However, it has also been introduced to Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Hawaii.

Because of its popularity as a cage bird, there’s been a sharp decline in population due to active trapping activity, so much so that on the island of Java the bird is particularly difficult to find.

Java sparrows eat a variety of seeds including rice and fruits. Because of their appetite for rice, they were often viewed as a pest in rice fields. They prefer open grasslands as their habitat.

Male adult Java Sparrows are blue-gray above with a pink belly and white checkered black head. The tail is also black. The beak and the eyes are red.

Even today, these birds are often kept as cagebirds. However, because they’re highly social, they cannot be kept alone and need at least one or two companions.

Crimson Finch

Another spectacular finch whose colors are popping is the Crimson Finch. With a plumage that is red overall with white spots on the sides, this is a spectacular bird.

The belly and back of the neck are dark gray. Naturally, the beak of the Crimson finch is also red, making this bird another exemplary specimen for the topic of this article.

These birds are native to Northern Australia and can be found in New Guinea as well. They prefer areas with tall, dense grasses, usually near wetlands that are abundant in Pandanus trees.

They establish their nests at the base of Pandanus trees in hollow tree limbs. They’ll also use open finch nest boxes, so you can set them up to attract pairs to your backyard.

The nest they build is bulky and bottle shaped consisting of coarse grass and bark. The female lays up to 8 white eggs, after which both sexes proceed to incubate the eggs.

Once the eggs hatch, both the male and the female Crimson Finch will feed the young.

Although these birds are often raised in captivity as pet birds, they aren’t that suitable for life in captivity and tend to become aggressive when confined to small spaces. They’re also the more expensive ones among the finches that are kept as pets.

Diamond Firetail

The seventh small backyard bird with a red beak that I’ll be covering is an inhabitant of inland southeastern Australia.

It features a fiery red rump with a black tail tip. The beak is also red. Then the rest of the body is an amalgam of colors with gray on the head, olive on the back, black band on the breast, and white-spotted black flanks. There’s also a black band in the space between the beak and the eyes.

You can spot the Diamond firetail in flocks of hundreds, usually in open grassy eucalypt forests and woodland, but also farmland or grassland with scattered trees.

As ground foragers, they feed on seeds of grasses and various weeds. They’re also known to eat insects and their larvae, usually during the breeding season.

They built their nests in dense foliage or trees. One clutch of 4-9 eggs are laid per season. Both sexes are involved in raising their young.


As you can see, a red beak is common among different types of finches, but they’re not the only ones to sport a red bill.

In this article, I’ve discussed various small birds that have been endowed by nature with a red beak, and except for the Java Sparrow, all had some red coloring in their plumage as well.

Although some of these birds are endemic only to Australia or North America, those finches that were historically popular as cagebirds are usually more widely distributed across the globe.

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