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10 Red Birds in Washington State

red birds in washington state
Cassin’s Finch in King, Washington: Photo by Mason Maron

Introduction

The Emerald State, with its lush forests, majestic mountains, and vast coastlines, is a haven for bird enthusiasts. Among the plethora of avian species that call Washington home, the red birds stand out, not just for their striking color but also for their vibrant energy. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just a nature lover, spotting a flash of red flitting among the green canopies is always a treat. Let’s embark on a journey to get acquainted with some of the red birds in Washington state.

Red Birds in Washington State

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)

  • Features: This striking duck sports a rich, cinnamon-red body with dark brown back and tail. Males exhibit a brilliant red eye, while the females are mottled brown but still show hints of the cinnamon hue.
  • Locations: Wetlands and ponds across eastern Washington, especially during the breeding season.
  • Fun Fact: They are one of the first duck species to migrate south in the fall.

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

  • Features: Males have a bright chestnut body with a blue bill during the breeding season. During the non-breeding season, they’re more subdued with a grayish body.
  • Locations: Freshwater lakes and ponds across Washington.
  • Fun Fact: When displaying for females, male ruddy ducks beat their bill against their neck, creating a series of rapid, bubbling calls.

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

  • Features: Known for its bright coppery-orange plumage and iridescent throat, this agile bird darts around flowers with incredible precision.
  • Locations: Wooded areas throughout Washington during migration, especially in gardens with flowering plants.
  • Fun Fact: Rufous hummingbirds undertake an incredible migration from Alaska to Mexico each year.

Red Knot (Calidris canutus)

  • Features: During breeding season, they showcase a rich rufous-chestnut color on their face, throat, and underparts. Their appearance becomes more muted outside of breeding.
  • Locations: Coastal areas of Washington, especially during migration.
  • Fun Fact: Red knots have one of the longest migrations of any bird, traveling up to 9,300 miles from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America.

Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)

  • Features: Displaying a bright red head and chest, these woodpeckers also showcase a black back with white bars and a yellowish belly.
  • Locations: Forested regions of western Washington.
  • Fun Fact: They create a series of small holes in tree bark to feed on the sap, also attracting insects which they consume.

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)

  • Features: The males exhibit a rosy red hue on their heads, throats, and chests, which contrasts with their brown-streaked backs. Females, on the other hand, lack the red but still possess a distinctively streaked appearance.
  • Locations: Woodlands, gardens, and shrubs throughout Washington State.
  • Fun Fact: Despite its name, the purple finch isn’t truly purple. The raspberry-red color of the males led to this unique nomenclature.

Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii)

  • Features: Males are characterized by a bright red crown and pale pink over their bodies. Females are streaked brown with a white underbelly and eyebrow stripe.
  • Locations: Coniferous forests in the mountains of eastern Washington.
  • Fun Fact: They’re named after John Cassin, a 19th-century American ornithologist.

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

  • Features: Male house finches boast a reddish-orange chest, head, and rump, while females are streaked brown without the red hues. Their cheerful chirps are common in urban areas.
  • Locations: Found throughout Washington, especially in urban and suburban settings, frequenting bird feeders.
  • Fun Fact: Originally a bird of the western U.S., they were introduced to the East in the 1940s and have since spread across the continent.

Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

  • Features: These specialized finches have uniquely adapted crossed bills. Males are brick-red, while females are greenish-yellow. Their bills are perfect for extracting seeds from conifer cones.
  • Locations: Conifer forests throughout Washington.
  • Fun Fact: Different populations of red crossbills have differently sized and shaped bills, each adapted to a particular type of conifer.

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)

  • Features: Males are a brilliant rose-red, while females and young birds are more of a subdued olive-yellow. They have a powerful beak adapted for breaking seeds.
  • Locations: Forested regions of Washington, especially in the Cascade Range.
  • Fun Fact: Despite their delicate appearance, these birds are hardy creatures and can tolerate extremely cold temperatures.

Why Are the Red Birds in Washington State so . . . Red?

Birds display a spectrum of colors, but red is particularly intriguing. The coloration is often due to carotenoid pigments obtained from their diet. The intensity of the red can be an indicator of the health and vitality of the bird, especially during mating seasons. It’s a signal to potential mates: the redder, the better!

Conservation

Washington’s avian biodiversity is nothing short of spectacular, but with increasing challenges such as habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and the spread of invasive species, many of these birds face significant threats. The conservation of these winged wonders is not just about preserving their numbers but ensuring the health of ecosystems that benefit all life forms.

Habitat Protection: Essential to bird survival is the conservation of their habitats. Efforts are in place to safeguard vital areas like wetlands, forests, and grasslands from degradation and destruction. State parks, wildlife refuges, and sanctuaries serve as safe havens for many bird species.

Public Awareness: Initiatives like the Washington State Audubon Society and local bird clubs play a crucial role in raising awareness about the importance of birds and the threats they face. Through workshops, bird-watching tours, and educational programs, they foster a love for birds and nature in the general public.

Legislation and Policies: Washington State has incorporated bird protection in its wildlife and environmental policies. Migratory birds are protected under federal law, and several species have state-specific protection statuses that ensure their preservation.

Research and Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of bird populations provides valuable data on their numbers, migration patterns, and health. This data helps in making informed conservation decisions, ensuring that efforts are directed where they are needed the most.

Community Involvement: Local communities play a pivotal role in bird conservation. From setting up bird feeders in winters to participating in citizen science projects like bird counts, every individual can make a difference.

Conserving our feathered friends is a shared responsibility. Whether it’s making our windows bird-safe, reducing pesticide use, or supporting conservation organizations, every action counts. The birds of Washington are not just a treasure to be admired but are indicators of our environment’s health. By ensuring their survival, we are taking a step towards a more balanced and thriving ecosystem.

Conclusion

Washington State offers a haven for bird enthusiasts through the Great Washington State Birding Trail. This trail showcases the diverse habitats and stunning landscapes that make it a prime location for observing red birds and other avian species. By exploring and supporting this trail, we can contribute to the conservation efforts and ensure the continued presence of these beautiful creatures in our state.