Birds are a highly diverse class of animals with an assortment of plumage colorations. Few birds are as striking as those with red chests among the diversity of avian wonders. The intensity of red varies from bright crimson and scarlet to ruby red, depending on the species. Either way, the red chests of birds are a sight to behold.
The birds with red chests look beautiful, but the colors aren’t just for show. The red chest characteristic has multiple functions, each contributing to the survival of the birds that don the red chest.
One of the main functions of the bright red chest is attracting mates through courtship displays. Females select their partners according to the brightness of the chest, as males with the most brilliant colors are the healthiest and have the highest reproductive potential.
The red chest also serves the purpose of species recognition, which aids in communication between individuals of the same species. Additionally, the red colors may warn predators as many organisms with bright colors are toxic and inedible.
The positioning of the red chest patch is also important. The red chest is located on the bird’s underside, which has advantages. It makes the bright chest challenging to see from above by predators such as raptors, so it doesn’t give away their camouflage. On the other hand, the chest can be seen by other members of the same species when they’re at the same level and, therefore, used for communication.
They have a balance between hiding the colors from predators for survival and showing them off for communication and reproduction.
Now that you know more about why birds have red chests, let’s dive into the rest of the article, exploring the various types of birds with red chests. This list is not comprehensive, but it includes 15 of the most beautiful birds with red chests from around the globe.
The Scarlet Tanager male is gorgeous in breeding plumage, with deep red plumage, excluding the black wings and tail. Non-breeding males and females have yellow-olive plumage and dark wings.
They inhabit forests of the eastern United States and Canada during summer, where they breed. They can also be seen in woodlands, parks, and yards. They spend winters in Central America and northern and western South America.
They mainly eat insects, but they also sometimes eat fruit and flower buds.
The House Finch is a small bird with a red chest and head. The rest of the body is grey-brown with dark streaking on the upper side and whitish on the underside with brown streaks. They also have a horn-colored beak and a red rump and throat.
The intensity of the red coloration can vary and look orangish on some individuals. Females are brown above with dark brown streaking, while the underside is whitish with dark streaking.
They inhabit semi-arid habitats, including deserts, chaparral, grasslands, open forests, savannas, and suburban and urban environments.
They are native to southwestern Canada, the western United States, and Mexico. Introduced populations occur in southeastern Canada, the eastern United States, and Hawaii.
They typically remain in the same area all year round, but some individuals migrate from the northeast of their range to areas further south.
House Finches eat seeds, buds, fruit, and occasionally, insects.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a stunning black and white bird with a red chest. The males in breeding plumage have a black head and black upperparts, white wing patches and underparts, and a white rump. The chest shows a triangular red mark, and the bill is large and pinkish.
In non-breeding plumage, the males are duller. Females have dark brown upperparts and pale whitish-buff underparts with streaking all over the body. A thick eyebrow stripe and white wing bars are also present, while the sides of the crown are brownish-black.
They are widespread across southern and central Canada and the eastern United States during summer. They winter in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
They occur in forests, woodlands (especially edges near marshes, streams, and other water sources), pastures, plantations, parks, and yards.
Their diet is composed of flowers, blossoms, insects, seeds, and fruit.
The Scarlet Macaw is an impressive colossal parrot. Their plumage is distinct, with mostly scarlet-red coloration. Other features include blue wings, a blue rump, a white face, yellow wing patches with a green border, and a golden sheen on the underwing. The lower mandible of the beak is black, while the upper mandible is whitish-grey, and the eyes are pale yellow.
Scarlet Macaws naturally occur in woodlands, forests, forest edges, and nearby semi-open landscapes with large trees and water courses.
Their native range is in Central America and northern South America.
The Scarlet Macaw diet consists of fruit, seeds, and nuts mainly. They also occasionally eat flowers and nectar.
5. Red-breasted Meadowlark (Leistes militaris)
The Red-breasted Meadowlark is a brilliant-looking bird with a big red chest, throat, and shoulder patches contrasting with the black body of males.
Females are brown with dark upper parts edged in buff, heavy streaking on the flanks and chest, buffy underparts, and buffy-brown stripes on the head.
They occur in open fields, grasslands, pastures, and farmlands, mainly feeding on insects and seeds.
They are found in southern Central America and most of northern South America.
The Vermillion Flycatcher is beautiful, with the males showing red underparts, including the chest and crown. The upper side is dark brown, and the face mask is brown.
The females are greyish-brown above and pale whitish below with streaking and a reddish wash on the belly. An indistinct white eyebrow is also present.
They inhabit open habitats, such as open woodlands, deserts, scrublands, farmlands, and fields, often along streams, where they feed on insects.
They range from the southwestern United States to southern South America.
This species is primarily resident, but individuals in the north of their range migrate from the United States to Mexico for winter. Other individuals from South America migrate north during the Austral winter.
The Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker male has a multicolored body with a bright red chest and throat surrounded by a black border. They also have a black head, rump, tail, and wings, a red crown, and a yellowish-green back. On the underside, the belly and under tail are yellowish-green, while the rest of the underparts are whitish.
The female has a grey head, a white throat, a yellow chest, white on the sides and undertail, and a brownish-yellow upperside with darker wings.
They inhabit forests, and forest edges, where they feed on fruits.
This species is found in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a striking woodpecker with a red head and chest. They have a white patch between the beak and the eyes, blackish upper parts with white spots, and a white rump. Additionally, they have a long white shoulder patch and greyish-white underparts with dark streaking on the sides. The belly sometimes shows a yellowish wash, and the upper tail is white with black bars.
They occur in western North America. Birds living along the coast are residents, while those breeding inland in the mountains move to the coast for winter. Some birds move south as far as northern Baja California for winter.
They inhabit forests and orchards in summer and woodlands in winter.
They feed on sap, insects, seeds, and fruit.
The Northern Cardinal is one of North America’s most distinctive and well-known birds, with distinct red plumage, a black face mask, and a black throat seen on males. Females look very different, with brown plumage tinted with red on the crest, wings, and tail. The beak is red on both sexes.
Northern Cardinals are found in woodlands, shrubby fields, swamps, thickets, forest edges, parks, and yards.
They range through the eastern, central, and southwestern United States, Mexico, and northern Central America.
Their diet consists of seeds, insects, buds, and fruit.
The Summer Tanager is an exquisite large tanager with completely red plumage, including the chest on males. Females are variably colored, from pale yellow to bright orange, over their entire body.
On both sexes, the wings appear darker; the beak is pale, and the eyes are dark.
This migratory species breeds in the southeastern and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They spend the winter from southern Mexico down to central South America.
They mainly live in mature forests and woodlands but can be seen in parks and yards.
Their diet consists almost exclusively of insects, especially wasps, and bees. They supplement them with spiders, fruit, and other insects.
The Scarlet Minivet is a colorful bird of forests and yards found in southern and southeastern Asia.
The males have black upperparts with red underparts and red wing patches in most of their range. The rump and outer tail feathers are also red. They show a large amount of geographic variation in color from red to yellow to orange.
The females have a grey crown and upper parts, a yellow and grey face, black wings, yellow on the underside, yellow patches on the wings, and a yellow rump and outer tail. The females also show geographic variation, with birds in the southern Philippines and western Indonesia being black on top.
They are generally sedentary, but birds in the Himalayan region are altitudinal migrants.
This species feeds on insects.
The Crimson-breasted Shrike is a beautiful shrike of arid landscapes. They usually have a bright scarlet-red underside, black upper parts, and a white stripe on each wing. If you’re lucky, you may see the rare yellow morph with yellow underparts.
They inhabit dry savannas, riparian scrublands, and thickets in southern Africa.
Even though they are brightly colored, you’ll most likely hear them first as they have deafening metallic calls, which vary substantially.
This species feeds on insects and fruit.
The Mistletoebird is one of the smallest birds with red chests. The males have glossy blue-black heads and upper parts, a bright red chest and throat, a whitish belly with a black stripe through the center, and a reddish undertail.
The female has a dark grey head and upper parts, a black tail, pinkish-red under the tail, and pale grey underparts with a white throat.
They are found in most of Australia and the eastern Maluku Islands of Indonesia, where they occur in any habitats with Mistletoe plants, but mainly in woodlands and forests.
They are named after their main dietary requirement – Mistletoe berries. Additionally, they feed on insects and nectar.
The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is an incredible-looking bird with a red chest and glossy black body. Other notable colors are the iridescent green throat and crown.
Females look less spectacular with their grey-brown plumage, darker upper parts, almost black throat, and pale underparts with dark streaks.
They live in savannas, woodlands, coastal scrublands, parks, and yards, where they feed on insects, spiders, and nectar.
Scarlet-chested Sunbirds range across large areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
The Red-capped Robin is a cute little robin native to most of Australia, occurring in arid landscapes such as scrublands and open woodlands.
It is primarily resident within its range but is only a summer visitor in some areas and a winter visitor in the northern region of its distribution.
Males have black upper parts with white wing panels, a black head, chin, and throat. They have a bright red chest and forecrown, while the rest of the underparts are white, and the tail is black with white tips.
The females have brown uppersides and flanks, pale undersides, reddish foreheads, and whitish panels on the dark wings.
The Red-capped Robin eats insects and other invertebrates.
In the world of birds, those with red chests are some of the most prominent. They are lovely to observe, but it is also important to remember that the red colors serve the purpose of communication and courtship displays.
The red chests are often only seen on male birds, particularly during the breeding season, as they compete for females to mate with. However, males and females have red chests in some species and keep the coloration throughout the year.