10 Gray Birds with Red Heads (ID & Images)

Gray birds with red heads are a sight to behold! The color combination of the gray wings and body contrasted with the bright red head make them stand out in a crowd. There are many species of birds that fit this description, each with its own fascinating characteristics. This article will explore the different types of grey birds with red heads, including their behaviors, habitats, and diets.

List of Gray Birds with Red Heads 

1. Red-crested Cardinal

red crested cardinal

A common red-headed bird of the Hawaiian Islands, the red-crested cardinal is an exotic species that are diurnal. Though its name has a ‘cardinal’, it is not related to the common northern cardinal.  Red-crested cardinals are related to summer tanagers and are in the tanager family. 


If you are visiting the big island, look out for a medium size bird with a signature bright red crest of feathers atop its head. Upper parts are gray while its neck and under are white. The male and female birds have a similar look, but juveniles are slightly different. Juvenile cardinals have a dull colored body, bill, and a brownish head. 

How long do red-crested cardinals live? About 15 years. They feed on insects as well as small fruits such as berries or seeds found nearby. 

Red crested cardinals also have a very distinctive song that is easily recognizable by birdwatchers who know what to listen for! They usually sing during twilight hours in order to attract mates during mating season which takes place during summer months. Males build nests. 

2. Red-Headed Finch (Paradise Finch)

paradise finch

Paradise finch – Amadina erythrocephala

source: ns.birds

Favoring the south of the Sahara, the paradise finch or red-headed finch is a small gray bird with red head that is closely related to the beautiful twinspots and firetails. 


Males are brighter than their mates. An adult paradise finch male has a plain gray back, scaly underparts and a bright red head while the female has a duller gray back and an equally duller belly. Note, females have gray heads. 

Both sexes have whitish canonical bills. In its natural environment, the red-headed finch can be found in open savannahs, semi-desert grasslands, shrubland areas, as well as cultivated fields. Generally speaking they are social birds who live in small groups or flocks which can contain up to 60 individuals at once. During the breeding season they form monogamous pairs. 

3. Red-headed Myzomela

Red-headed Myzomela

Red-headed Myzomela – Myzomela erythrocephala

source: jakeharfieldphotography

Also known as the red-headed honeyeater, red-headed myzomela is a species of honeyeater native to Australia. 


It is a small bird, with adults boasting between 6.7-7.5 inches in wingspan and a 4.5 average body size. They exhibit sexual dimorphism. 

 The male has a distinctive red head   with the rest of its body being brownish gray. The female’s body is overall grayish-brown. Juvenile males are similar to females but with a red face. 

This species can be found in a wide range of habitats in northern Australia. They are often seen foraging for bugs and insects on tree trunks or branches as well as visiting flowering plants for nectar and pollen. During nesting season, red-headed myzomela can raise two to three babies. 

4. Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak – Pinicola enucleator


Pine grosbeaks are one of the roundest bird species native to North America. They favor forests with fir, pine and spruce. 

The birds can be identified by their large size and bright plumage. Pine grosbeaks have a unique coloring that features gray and red hues in males while females have gray and yellow-orange. 

These birds with red head and gray body also sport a short finch-like bill that aids them in gripping seeds while feeding. In terms of size, pine grosbeaks are larger than most other finches found in North America. Adults measure between seven to ten inches long and weigh up to 2 ounces; making them some of the largest finch species living on the continent today.

Do pine grosbeaks visit feeders? Yes, you can attract them to your backyard using platform feeders. These grosbeaks live up to 9 years. In the US, breeding occurs in northern New England. You can watch their breeding routine starting May-July. 

5. Redhead

Aythya americana

Redhead – Aythya americana

Another type of gray bird with red head you should add to your birding list is the redhead. This waterfowl breeds in the west, migrates to the east during winter and are found in non-breeding months in the South. 


To identify males, look for medium sized ducks that sport a gray body and a round red head. Note its stunning yellow eyes. Females are brown overall with dull-colored eyes. Both birds have dark gray bills.

They also have broad bodies with short legs and long necks that give them an elegant silhouette when flying or swimming. Redheads feed on pondweed, muskgrass, and algae. 

Nesting starts in mid-summer. Females lay 7 to 8 olive buff eggs that are incubated for up to 28 days. Baby redheads are born with light down. 

6. Banda Myzomela

Closely related to the red-headed myzomela, the Banda myzomela is found in the forests and woodland habitats of Indonesia.


The Banda myzomela male has a predominantly bright red head while the rest of the body is grayish-white underneath and the upperparts are dark brown.

Females are gray brown with a reddish hue on their face. Both birds have very sharp, curved bills that come in handy when searching for nectar. This bird with red head and gray body is known for its “chi-chi-churr” sounds. 

7. Crimson-browed Finch

Crimson-browed Finch

Crimson-browed Finch – Carpodacus subhimachalus

source: surajit.photography

Identifying a Crimson-browed finch is not too difficult, as it stands out from other birds with its distinctive colors. This species of finch is found in the temperate forests and woodlands of Southeast Asia, and has a unique blend of colors that make it easy to recognize. 


Sexes are different. Male crimson-browed finches are reddish above and dark grey below. Females have an olive back and a dark grey belly. Note the cute beady eyes and dark feet. 

Like other finches, they have canonical bills. When bird watching, you can spot them foraging for seeds on the ground. 

8. Gang-gang Cockatoo

Gang-gang Cockatoo

Gang-gang Cockatoo – Callocephalon fimbriatum

Another gray colored bird with red head from Australia is the gang-gang cockatoo; mostly found in the southeastern part of the continent. 


These birds are very rare due to population decrease. Male gang-gang cockatoos are gray with a bright red crest and fluffy crest. Females are gray overall with a rusty belly. Sexes are the same size; about 12.6-14.6 inches. These cockatoos prefer staying up on trees but will come to the ground to search for water and food. 

During the mating season, they stay in small groups or in pairs. They are monogamous and you can watch their mating routing from October-January. On average, a gang-gang cockatoo can live up to 50 years. 

9. Crimson Sunbird

 Crimson Sunbird

Crimson Sunbird – Aethopyga siparaja

Common in Singapore and India, the crimson sunbird is a small bird about 5.5 inches in length. 


Males fit our list perfectly. They have a red head and gray body. Females are olive-green with a yellowish  breast and noticeable white tail-tips. Like myzomelas above, crimson sunbirds have curved bills which help reach nectar. They do not migrate. 

Other birds with Gray and Red Birds 

10. Desert Cardinal

Desert Cardinal

Desert Cardinal – Cardinalis sinuatus

source: birdsbyjason

Identifying a desert cardinal can be a fascinating experience. These colorful birds are found in deserts, particularly in southern regions of the United States and Mexico.


 Although males have similar characteristics to their northern relatives, there are some distinct physical traits that help people identify them.

Desert cardinals males have a distinctive red crest on top of their heads, red face, wings, tails and undertails. The rest of their body is gray-brownish. 

Females’ plumage resembles that of the northern cardinal females; gray. However, their parrot-like bill will help you tell the species apart. 

Like northern cardinals they are gregarious, often searching for food in small groups. Speaking of food, they also feed on seeds, berries and insects. 

11. African Grey Parrot 

 African Grey Parrot 

African Grey Parrot – Psittacus erithacus

The African grey parrot is one of the most intelligent gray and red birds in the world. Occurring in mangroves, savannas and woodlands, this large bird is native to the Congo, Uganda and Kenya. 


With an average lifespan of 50 years, this bird can grow up to 13 inches in length.  The bird is all gray with a red tail. Juveniles are similarly colored. However you can distinguish the age by looking at their eyes. Adults have yellow irises while young birds have dark irises. 


What bird is red and gray? 

Most popular red and gray bird is the red-crested cardinal. A common bird in Hawaii. It has a red-crested head and gray body. Other gray and red birds include African grey parrots, red-headed myzomela, and paradise finch. 

What is a red and gray bird that looks like a cardinal? 

Two types of bird look like cardinals. Red-crested cardinals and desert cardinals are both grey and red birds that look like cardinals. 

What is a gray cardinal?

Desert cardinals are gray cardinals found in southern regions of the United States. They are overall gray with a red-tipped crest, red wings, tail and undertail coverts.  

What is a small grey bird with red head? 

Red-crested cardinal is a small grey bird with red head that is found in South America and was introduced in Maui and Kauai Islands. Its body is gray while its crested head is bright red. 

Is there a finch with a red head? 

Yes, the crimson-browed finch, paradise finch, house finch, and purple finch are all members of the finch family and sport red heads. 

Final Thoughts: 

There are various birds with gray bodies and red heads. In North America you can find the red-crested cardinal, redhead, desert cardinal, and pine grosbeak. In Australia you’ll find red-headed myzomela and gang-gang cockatoo. African grey parrots are found in Africa. These unique colored birds are a joy to watch and learn about. Happy bird watching!





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