Are you an avid birder or nature lover looking to find and identify the popular red-billed birds living in America? If so, this blog post is exactly what you need!
From providing information on common bird species with a bright red beak to lessons on identifying them through their behavior and habits—we’ve got everything covered.
Read on for tips, tricks, and interesting facts about birds with red beaks in the U.S.
By the way, if you click on a link and then make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
- Do Birds Naturally Have Red Beaks?
- 8 Birds with Red Beaks in the United States
- 1 | Northern Cardinal
- 2 | Broad Billed Hummingbird
- 3 | American White Ibis
- 4 | Common Moorhen
- 5 | Wood Duck
- 6 | Laughing Gull
- 7 | Purple Gallinule
- 8 | Black Oystercatcher
- Conclusion: Birds with Red Beaks in America: 8 Species with Images and Interesting Facts
Do Birds Naturally Have Red Beaks?
Actually, no, they don’t.
Red is an unusual color to encounter in the avian world. Yet, if you take a look at birds throughout the United States, you may be surprised to see just how many of them sport a red beak.
The key to understanding this rather extraordinary phenomenon can be found in nature itself: most of these birds have acquired their vibrant hue from either eating or rubbing against certain plants containing pigment molecules belonging to a class called carotenoids.
Studies have identified a gene-encoded enzyme in birds that converts yellow pigments obtained from the diet into red pigments, which birds then use to color their feathers, bills, and bare skin.
This makes red the only color on a bird that actually comes from outside its own body–quite remarkable!
8 Birds with Red Beaks in the United States
While there are a number of backyard birds and aquatic birds that have red beaks, this post will focus on the most commonly known and recognized species in the country.
1 | Northern Cardinal
These iconic birds are well-known across the United States and have been identified with their vibrant red feathers since the early 1800s.
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a medium-sized songbird that is native to North America. They have thick, bright red feathers on their bodies, with black faces and orange-red beaks. The male cardinals tend to be brighter in color than females, who usually have brownish highlights in their feathers. Male cardinals also tend to be larger in size than females, measuring up to 8 inches long and weighing about 1/3 of a pound.
Nesting Habits of the Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinals typically nest during springtime in April or May. The females will build nests from twigs, bark strips, and other materials they can find nearby. These nests are usually placed high up on branches or window ledges. The female cardinal will then lay between three and four eggs which she will incubate for 12-13 days before they hatch.
Sounds of the Northern Cardinal
The distinctive sound made by cardinals is easily recognizable as “cheer-cheer-cheer” or “what-cheer” sounds that last for several seconds at a time. This call is often heard in the early morning hours when cardinals are looking for food or mates.
They also make other chirping sounds throughout the day in order to communicate with each other or ward off competitors from their territory.
Where You Can Find Them in the U.S.?
Northern Cardinals can be found in most parts of North America east of the Rockies, as well as some parts of Mexico and Central America. They prefer forested areas but can also be found around backyards and parks where there are plenty of shrubs and trees for them to hide in or feed on berries from bushes like dogwood trees or viburnums.
Interesting Facts About The Northern Cardinal
1) Cardinals typically live 3 to 5 years, but, some can live up to 15 years in favorable conditions.
2) In some areas, Cardinals may flock together during winter months when food becomes scarce—this is called an irruption year.
3) Cardinals get their name from Catholic priests who wore robes with deep red coloring during religious ceremonies—the same color as a male cardinal’s feathers.
4) Male cardinals sing louder than female cardinals because they need to attract mates during mating season. –
5) Female cardinals will sometimes build multiple nests while laying eggs —this allows them to lay more eggs than normal if one nest fails due to predators or weather conditions.
2 | Broad Billed Hummingbird
The Broad Billed Hummingbird is a small hummingbird that 3 1/4 to 4 inches long. It is most easily identified by its bright green upper plumage and bright red bill. It also has white chin feathers, a blue crown, and a white throat patch. The male Broad Billed Hummingbird is slightly larger than the female with an extra streak of blue on its forehead.
These hummingbirds usually build their nests between 2-4 feet high off the ground in trees or shrubs, often near cactus plants like ocotillo or cholla. The nests are typically made of plant down, spider webs, and lichen attached to branches with spider silk.
Sounds & Location
The call of the Broad Billed Hummingbird is short and sweet—a single note that sounds like “chit-chit” or “chip-chip” repeated several times during a flight. It makes a variety of other calls too, including higher-pitched twittering sounds when defending its nest.
You can find these birds throughout much of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California in the United States as well as parts of northern Mexico during winter months when they migrate south for warmer weather.
Now that you know what it looks like and where it lives, here are some interesting facts about Broad Billed Hummingbirds:
- They can fly up to 30 miles per hour
- They feed on nectar from flowers but will also eat small insects such as gnats or mites, consuming 1.6 to 1.7 times their body weight each day
- They can’t hop or walk because their legs and feet are so tiny
Remember—always keep your eyes peeled for these vibrant little creatures around cacti plants in southwestern states like New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California.
3 | American White Ibis
This striking wading bird is a common sight in marshes, swamps, mudflats, and shorelines throughout the southeastern United States. Let’s take a look at some of the details of this remarkable species.
The American White Ibis stands at around two feet tall with long bright red legs and a downward-curving orange-red bill that can reach up to six inches in length. The wingspan of these birds ranges from 38 to 42 inches, allowing them to soar gracefully over their marshy habitats.
The plumage is mostly white with black wingtips and sometimes a reddish hue on the head and neck feathers. Males and females look alike, although males tend to be slightly larger than their female counterparts.
American White Ibises typically nest in colonies of dozens or even hundreds of pairs during the spring season. They make their nests either on trees or on the ground out of sticks and other materials they find in their marshy habitat.
Females typically lay three eggs per clutch which hatch after about three weeks of incubation period by both parents. The young birds will remain with their parents for several months before they disperse into new areas on their own.
Sounds & Calls
The vocalizations made by American White Ibises are surprisingly varied for such a small-brained creature! They use different calls to communicate danger, food availability, nesting locations, mating preferences, and much more.
Some of their most commonly heard calls include low croaks when threatened as well as high-pitched chattering noises when foraging for food or greeting other ibises nearby.
Range and Habitat
The American White Ibis can be found all along the east coast of the United States from Virginia down through Florida and westward into Texas and some parts of Mexico as well as Central America.
These birds prefer wetlands such as marshes, swamps, mudflats, mangroves, estuaries, and lagoons. They also frequent ponds within cities or suburban areas where there is an abundant source of food available such as crayfish or minnows.
1) Unlike many other species of birds that migrate south for winter months each year, American White Ibises are year-round residents in most parts of their range!
2) Even though these birds usually nest in colonies with dozens or even hundreds of other pairs of ibises alongside them during mating season; when it comes time to incubate eggs each pair will create its own space away from its neighbors so that it can properly care for its young!
3) If a female ibis loses her first clutch due to any number of reasons she won’t hesitate to lay another clutch right away; sometimes she’ll even start laying eggs again only days after losing her original brood.
The American White Ibis is an iconic part of our natural landscape here in the United States; while they may not be flashy like some other species they still have unique characteristics that make them special.
4 | Common Moorhen
The Common moorhen, also referred to as “marsh hen” or “water hen,” is an aquatic bird found throughout the United States. It’s easily identifiable due to its unique physical characteristics and behaviors. Let’s learn more about this widely distributed species.
Physical Characteristics of the Common Moorhen
The Common moorhen is quite distinct in appearance with glossy black plumage and white under tail feathers tipped with red. One of the most recognizable features of this species is their yellow-tipped red bill, which makes them relatively easy to identify among other aquatic birds. They have long toes, allowing them to walk on mudflats and along floating vegetation without sinking into the water or mud.
Common Moorhens are usually between 10 and 12 inches in length, although males tend to be larger than females by about half an inch. They have a wingspan of approximately 20 inches and weigh between 11 and 14 ounces when fully grown. As we can see, they’re small but mighty!
Common Moorhens build nests close to water sources like ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, canals, rivers, and streams—you name it!
Their nests are made from plant materials including grasses and reeds that are woven together using saliva secreted from the bird’s mouthparts. Nests are typically located within two feet above ground level and lined with leaves for added insulation against heat or cold weather conditions.
It takes an average of 10 days for a pair of Common moorhens to build their nest; both parents take turns incubating eggs (which usually range from 4-9) for up to three weeks until they hatch.
Vocalization & Range
Common moorhens make high-pitched whistling sounds that vary depending on the species’ age (juveniles make one type of call while adults make another). When alarmed or threatened by predators, they emit a loud “crrruk-crrruk” sound that often scares off would-be attackers!
You can find these birds all over North America ranging from Canada down through Mexico—as far south as Panama—and eastward throughout much of the United States (except for northern states such as Minnesota).
They prefer freshwater habitats but can also be found in saltwater marshes near coastal areas during migration season (typically spring/summer).
Interesting Facts about the Common Moorhen
- The scientific name for the Common moorhen is Gallinula chloropus which translates roughly into “chickens with green feet” – a reference to their bright yellow legs
- They have long toes to enable them to walk on soft mud and floating vegetation
- Their bills are serrated at the tip which helps them grip food when eating underwater – making them excellent swimmers too
5 | Wood Duck
The Wood duck is a stunning bird with plumage that varies from shades of green, purple, blue and brown. The Wood duck also has white stripes along its wings, back and chest area which adds to its unique beauty. Its most distinct feature is its bright red beak and two white circles around its eyes. It’s hard not to stare in awe when you see one of these majestic creatures up close!
Wood ducks nest between March through June in cavities in trees or even on ledges on buildings near water sources such as streams, rivers or ponds where they can find food. They typically lay between 8-12 eggs which hatch within 28-30 days after being laid. The mother wood duck will stay with her young until they’re able to fly away around 45-55 days later.
Wood ducks make a high-pitched whistle sound when flying away from danger or when trying to attract a mate during mating season. They also have been known to make louder quacking sounds when communicating with other ducks or potential mates.
Where Can You Find Them?
Wood ducks are native to North America from Central Canada down south into parts of Mexico as well as some areas of Central America but they can mainly be found in the Eastern United States, specifically states like Florida and Texas.
They generally prefer wetlands near forests so if you ever take a stroll through wooded areas near bodies of water keep your eye out for these extraordinary creatures.
1) To protect themselves from predators wood ducks will hide their eggs among vegetation
2) They are one of the few species of ducks that have strong claws which allow them to grip bark and perch on branches
3) The oldest recorded wood duck lived 22 years and 6 months. He was a male that was banded in Organ and found in California.
6 | Laughing Gull
The adult Laughing gull has a black head and neck during the breeding season; however, its head and neck become white in the non-breeding season. Its wings are grayish-black on top and white underneath. The adult also has a bright red beak (which is especially noticeable when it is in flight) and pink legs. The juvenile version of the bird looks very similar to the adult but with browner feathers instead of black or white ones.
Where Can You Find It?
The Laughing gull can be found along both sides of North America from Canada to Mexico. It nests primarily on islands off the coast of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and some parts of Canada as well. They may also be spotted near inland lakes, rivers, or wetlands during migration season (April to August).
Sounds & Nesting Habits:
A flock of Laughing gulls can create quite a ruckus with their loud calls and raucous laughter-like cries – which is where they get their name!
During nesting season (May to June), Laughing gulls build their nests out of grasses and twigs on sandy islands near bodies of water such as bays or lagoons. They typically lay 2-3 eggs in each nest that hatches within about three weeks after being laid.
Interesting Facts About Laughing Gulls:
Here are some fun facts about this beautiful bird:
1) A group of laughing gulls is called “screamers” because of their loud chatter!
2) The red spot on their beaks helps them blend in better when they are feeding in shallow waters—their reddish color camouflages them against the coral reefs.
3) Both parents will feed their young half-digested food when first born.
7 | Purple Gallinule
The Purple Gallinule is a medium-sized wetland bird with a distinctive red beak with a yellow tip, long bright yellow legs, huge feet, blue wings, and deep purple feathers on its body; it is one of the most brightly colored birds in the U.S. It has an overall length of 12-14 inches, making it slightly larger than other waterbirds like the American Coot or Common Moorhen. The Purple Gallinule is also quite vocal—it can often be heard emitting loud calls from marshes and wetlands throughout its range.
The Purple Gallinule typically builds its nest in shallow water or emergent vegetation near freshwater marshes and swamps. The nest itself is an impressive structure made of grasses, sedges, mosses, reeds, twigs, leaves, feathers, and other materials. It usually takes two weeks to build the nest before eggs, usually, 6 to 8, are laid in May or June. The female and male will then incubate the eggs for about 3 weeks before they hatch in late June or July.
Where Can They be Found?
The Purple Gallinule can be found across much of the southeastern United States including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and North Carolina. They migrate northward in late winter or early spring to breed in these states before returning southward again in fall or early winter.
Interesting Facts About the Purple Gallinule
1) The Purple Gallinule’s diet consists mostly of aquatic plants like algae as well as aquatic insects such as dragonfly larvae and damselfly nymphs.
2) The bright colors on this species’ plumage are due to iridescent structural coloration which changes depending on how light hits them from different angles.
3) Unlike other waterbirds such as ducks which prefer deeper waters; the Purple Gallinule prefers shallow bodies of water because it makes it easier for them to feed on aquatic plants.
4) The parents are often helped by previous offspring to feed their young, sometimes juveniles less than 10 weeks old become ‘helpers’.
8 | Black Oystercatcher
In terms of looks, the Black Oystercatcher stands out from other birds due to its striking black feathers and unique red beak. It also has distinctive orange eyes, which are often surrounded by a yellow ring. It’a a sturdy-looking bird with thick white legs.
The Black Oystercatcher usually nests during June and July; however, they can be found in the US year-round. In terms of sound, they make loud “peep” noises that are quite easy to recognize once you have become familiar with them.
Where Can They be Found?
The Black Oystercatcher can generally be found in more coastal areas along the Pacific Ocean, although they have been known to migrate inland on occasion. In addition to California and Oregon, these birds also inhabit various parts of Alaska, Washington State, British Columbia, Mexico as well as some parts of Central America.
Interesting Facts About the Black Oystercatcher
1) One interesting fact about the Black Oystercatcher is that its diet consists mainly of mollusks like mussels and clams—which explains why it has a longer than average beak compared to other birds of similar size!
2) Another fun tidbit about this species is that it is highly territorial; female Black Oystercatchers will fiercely defend their nests from any intruder or predator (and yes, this includes humans).
3) When breeding, the birds become quite vocal, and the adults will perform tandem display flights while duetting. Sounds like quite a show!
Conclusion: Birds with Red Beaks in America: 8 Species with Images and Interesting Facts
As this post indicates, birds with red beaks are anything but ordinary. From the backyard bird feeder to marshes and canals, these unique and interesting species are sure to captivate bird lovers of all ages!