7 Small Red Birds in Georgia

They’re small, they’re red and they’re out and about in your backyard. Wondering what they are? There’s a high chance it’s one of the small red birds that I discuss in my article below.

If you’re located in the state of Georgia and you often keep an eye out for birds, you may already be familiar with some of these. Or, if you might want to identify the red birds visiting your backyard, you may find this list helpful.

Northern Cardinal

By far one of the most recognizable birds in North America, the Northern Cardinal can be found in most parts of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, including the state of Georgia.

With a flaming red crest, red plumage, an orange beak and a black face, the Northern Cardinal is a non-migratory songbird, meaning it stays on its breeding grounds year-round.

Although its majestic crest makes this bird look tall, it’s only slightly larger than a sparrow and smaller than a robin.

It prefers foraging near or on the ground, preferring shrubby forest edges, woodlots, parks, and even your backyard, especially in winter when it often visits birdfeeders.

Sunflower seeds seem to be their favorite type of seed when visiting bird feeders. Other than seeds, you can allow some understory growth on your property’s edges if you’re hoping for Northern Cardinals to nest in your backyard.

Nests are typically built in a shrub by the female of the species. The male will feed the female during the incubation period. The clutch size is usually 2-5 eggs. The incubation period lasts 11-13 days.

House Finch

Not as red as the Northern Cardinal, but noticeably red nonetheless, the House finch is another small red bird that’s a resident of Georgia.

With a cheerful song and an appearance that’s just as cheerful, the House finch is a common sight at bird feeders, where they might come accompanied by an entire flock.

They’re small birds with a beak that’s fairly large relative to the head. The plumage is rosy red on the face, breast and belly. The rest of the body is streaky brown.

As gregarious birds, they feed in large flocks, usually on the ground, weed stalks, or trees. They eat seeds, buds, fruits, and other plant material.

Black sunflower oil seeds are their favorite at bird feeders, but they’ll also feed on milo and millet.

Because these small red birds are adapted to a variety of environments, they also have very varied nesting sites. They can nest in deciduous or coniferous trees, but also on buildings, vents, streetlamps, ledges, and many other urban and non-urban locations.

The nest is usually cup-shaped and lined with fine materials. The size of the clutch is 2-6 eggs. House finches raise as many as six broods per season.

Scarlet Tanager

Next on my list of small red birds that you can see in Georgia is the Scarlet tanager. The name itself leaves no doubt that this is indeed a prime example of a red bird.

The Scarlet tanager is all the more impressive because of the contrasting colors in its plumage – scarlet red body and jet-black wings and tail.

You can find this bird in the northeastern United States in the summer. In winter, it migrates southward all the way down to Northern South America.

Despite the spectacle of color, these small birds can be hard to spot. They prefer staying high in the canopy of trees.

However, if you familiarize yourself with its peculiar ‘chick-burr’ call, it can help you spot them with more ease.

Unfortunately, females lack the scarlet feathers, which are replaced with yellowish-green feathers with a darker shade on the wings, making them even more difficult to spot.

Scarlet tanagers feed mostly on insects and the occasional fruits or buds. The probe the bark, the branches and the foliage for insects.

Nests are built high above the ground, usually on horizontal branches that are farther away from the trunk.

Summer Tanager

Another tanager species that’s even more exquisitely red than the Scarlet tanager is the Summer tanager. It’s the only completely red bird in North America, although its wings have streaks of a deep maroon. The female of the species is bright yellow green.

Because the Summer tanager prefers to sit high in the canopy of forest trees, spotting them can prove difficult. From time to time, you may see them charging out to catch insects in mid-flight.

As for trees, they prefer deciduous or mixed pine-oak woodlands. They don’t stay deep in the forest, preferring open forests and forest edges instead.

While insects make up most of their diet, there are two insects that Summer tanagers particularly specialize in – wasps and bees.

Hearing this you might wonder how is it that they don’t get stung? Summer tanagers actually have an efficient tactic of killing the wasp or bee by repeatedly beating them against a perch, essentially rendering them unable to sting.

Other insects they enjoy are ants, termites, beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, flies, moths, and other terrestrial and aerial insects.

Besides insects, they also enjoy feeding on various fruits – blackberries, pokeweed, mulberries, citrus, and bananas.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Not a common presence in the northern parts of the USA, given that its range is limited to southwestern US and Central America, sightings of Vermilion flycatchers have been reported in Georgia.

This bird is fond of desert landscapes and grassland habitats, and it’s an excellent hunter of flies and other flying insects, hence the name ‘flycatcher’.

A small, stocky bird with a flaming red plumage, long black beak, short tail, and a slight crest on its head, which rises when the male Vermilion flycatcher protects its territories from other flycatchers and other birds,

The plumage is not all red, however. The back, the wings, and a mask-like streak on the face are all black or dark gray.

Females are brown-gray with creamy streaks on the breast and salmon-washed underpants.

These birds feed mostly on flying insects that they catch in one swoop. Like the Summer tanager, the Vermilion flycatcher takes its bigger prey to a perch, then proceeds whacking them against it until they’re softened.

This technique allows them to feed on grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, and bees.

Scarlet Flycatcher

Related to the Vermilion flycatcher and an even rarer sight in Georgia, the Scarlet flycatcher is most common in South America including southeastern Bolivia and Brazil, Paraguay to Argentina and Uruguay.

Because it looks very similar to the Vermilion flycatcher, it can be hard to distinguish them. They both have scarlet red plumage, black wings, a short black tail, black eyepatches, a black back, and s thin, pointy black beak.

But there is one thing that sets them apart – in addition to the different geographical range – and that’s the wings.

The Scarlet flycatcher has pointier wings compared to the wings of the Vermilion flycatcher. Then, there’s also the matter of their songs, which are also different.

As for their diets, the Scarlet flycatcher is just as competent in snatching flying insects as its Vermilion cousin. It consumes flying and terrestrial insects and other arthropods that they search for at a height of at least 10 feet off the ground.


Found most abundantly in Europe and parts of Asia, the Eurasian bullfinch is another red bird that you might unexpectedly see in Georgia, even though it’s not a resident bird.

Because bullfinches have been kept as cage birds for centuries, it’s not unheard of to spot them even as far away from their natural habitats as Georgia.

The stocky, bull-like appearance with pinkish red breast and cheeks, a black cap, gray back, and black feathers with white markings make this finch unmistakable.

If there’s one thing bullfinches are known for it’s their voracious appetite for fresh buds and shoots of fruiting trees. This is why they were once considered a pest of fruit crops and they were even culled en masse.

However, recent studies into their effects on fruit crops have cleared their names, showing that they had very little impact on the yield of fruiting trees.

They’ve also become protected birds in several countries within their range.

Bullfinches can be attracted to bird feeders with seed mixes and suet. Although it’s best to place these feeders close to a shrub or hedge because bullfinches are otherwise elusive, timid birds that are wary of humans. And even other birds.


With the Summer tanager being the only completely red bird in Northern America, followed closely only by the Northern Cardinal, it’s safe to say that red is rarely present alone in the plumage of a bird.

Although some of these birds are residents of Georgia, most of them are just passing by during migration, or they’re simply vagrants.

Going through the list of small red birds I described above, you can see that multiple tones and shades of red plumage are represented – from pinkish or flaming reds to more subdued tones. This goes to show how varied and colorful the avian world is.

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