There are millions of bird species out there with many of them looking alike, and some bird watchers have a problem identifying a red bird with black wings. In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at the most common species of bird that fit this description, their location, and general behavior.

Most Common Red Birds With Black Wings

Scarlet Tanager

This is the most common and the most likely species of a red bird with black wings. The scarlet tanager, Piranga olivacea in Latin, is a species of bird that we find all over the East Coast, as far inward as Texas and Michigan, while they also travel to Canada. In the south, we can find them in Mexico and Chile!

This bird is, just like the description suggests, completely red with only the wings being black. This distinct coloration makes them very easy to recognize, not to mention that they’re a beautiful species. However, these birds are very difficult to find – they prefer staying high in the branches so they’re in less danger from predators.

You’re more likely to hear them sing than to actually see them. In this species, males are the red and black ones, while females are usually yellow-green with black wings. They prefer forests as their primary home. There, they’ll nest in trees and eat insects.

To find this bird, you’ll have to explore forests in the eastern USA. Listen for the raspy song of this bird and keep in mind that they usually stay very high up in the trees, so they’ll be difficult to spot. There, you might be able to find both males and females, but only for a second, as these birds don’t like showing too much tail!

Learn more about Yellow And Black Bird Identification

Summer Tanager

A very similar species to the scarlet tanager, the Piranga rubra is another red species of bird that sometimes has black wings. Although a fully adult summer tanager is completely red, their wings are usually a little bit darker than the rest of their body, while they can also have a black tone of wings.

These birds inhabit the American South and Southeast, Mexico, and northern South America. There, they live in open woodlands where they feed on insects. Interestingly, they’re the only entirely red bird in all of North America (at least the only one we know of) which makes them easy to spot in comparison to the green of the forest.

Just like the scarlet tanager, these birds spend their time at the top of the forest, which can make it difficult to actually find them. However, once you find them, they’re not difficult to identify. The best way to find them is by listening to their call and following the sound.

These birds love eating bees and wasps, and they kill them by beating them against tree branches if you can believe it. They’re so intelligent that they actually know they have to remove the stinger before eating the bee or the wasp, and they do that by rubbing the insect against the tree.They’re close relatives to our previous entry, the scarlet tanager, while they’re also related to western tanagers.

Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Out of all the black and red birds, the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is perhaps the most interestingly-looking bird. This bird, red and black in color, has a characteristic pyramid of feathers on top of its hair and it’s impossible to miss it once you spot it. They’re usually a beautiful shade of red with some grey to black notes on their wings.

They inhabit the East and Central USA, as well as the South and some parts of Mexico. There, they live in open woodlands and they primarily feed on seeds through ground foraging. With this species, the male is characteristically red, while the females are a combination of brown and beige.

The males are much easier to find than the two previously mentioned species, as they constantly try to draw attention to themselves. They’re also not afraid of approaching people, so many bird watchers like to use water fountains and bird feeders in their back yards to attract these birds.

Interestingly, these birds are oddly aggressive. It’s a common sight to spot either a male or a female cardinal attacking their own reflection in a window or a door. During spring and summer, these birds are obsessed with protecting their territory and that makes them additionally aggressive.

Northern Cardinal

Read more about: Do Cardinals Mate For Life?


Where are Scarlet Tanagers found?

In the USA, we can find the Scarlet Tanager all along the East Coast, and even in southern Canada. They often migrate to warmer parts like Mexico and Chile in the winter.

What is a black bird with red wings?

The Scarlet Tanager fits this description best, but the summer tanager and the northern cardinal are another two species that can also have black wings on their red body.

What do Scarlet Tanagers eat?

These birds don't eat seeds, they feed on insects instead.

Where can I find these birds?

Both the scarlet and the summer tanager spend the largest part of their lives high up in the trees and it's highly unlikely to spot them easily. Instead, follow their call and try to find that small red spot amongst the green. The northern cardinal, however, will approach manmade bird feeders in yards and you can attract them with that easily.

To End

The scarlet tanager is the bird to best fit the description of a blackbird with red wings, but there are also the summer tanager and the north cardinal which must be taken into account. These birds spend their time high up in the trees, away from people, but you can spot them if you follow their call.

Most of these birds can be found on the East Coast and the Midwest, while the north cardinal also lives in the south and even reaches down to Mexico. The cardinal is also likely to approach your bird feeder if you fill it with sunflower seeds, while the tanagers avoid people if possible.

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