Welcome to the world of red-headed birds in Washington State! These avian species are known for their striking appearance and unique habitats. From woodpeckers to hummingbirds, these birds are a colorful addition to the diverse wildlife of the Pacific Northwest region. This guide aims to provide you with valuable insights into the world of these red-headed birds, including their features, habitats, and where to spot them.

Key Takeaways

  • Red-headed birds are among the most vibrant and unique species found in Washington State.
  • The red-headed woodpecker, northern flicker, red-breasted sapsucker, and rufous hummingbird are four popular species of red-headed birds in the region.
  • Each species has its own distinctive features, habitats, and behaviors, providing ample opportunities for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts to explore.
  • Conservation efforts are important to protecting the habitats and populations of red-headed birds in Washington State.

Red-Headed Woodpecker

The red-headed woodpecker is a stunning bird with vibrant red plumage on its head and neck, contrasting with its black and white body. These woodpeckers are found throughout the eastern and central United States, including Washington State.

In Washington State, red-headed woodpeckers prefer open habitats with scattered trees, such as savannas, orchards, and parklands. They can also be found in mixed forests, especially near water sources.

Red-headed woodpeckers are omnivorous, feeding on insects, nuts, berries, and small vertebrates. They are known for their unique hunting behavior, which involves catching insects in mid-air or on the ground.

While red-headed woodpeckers are not currently endangered in Washington State, their populations have declined in many parts of their range due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Popular spots for observing these woodpeckers in Washington State include the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and the Yakima Arboretum.

Northern Flicker

The northern flicker is a charming woodpecker species with a distinctive red head. They are found throughout Washington State, from lowland forests to mountainous regions, and even in suburban backyards.

In addition to their red head markings, northern flickers are easily recognized by their spotted underparts and black bibs. They have a unique feeding behavior, often foraging on the ground for ants and other insects.

Northern flickers prefer habitats with open spaces and tall trees, making them commonly found in parks, golf courses, and other green spaces in urban environments. They also thrive in forested areas with mixed conifer and hardwood species.

When searching for northern flickers, keep an eye out for their distinctive flight pattern, which features a notable “flash” of white on their wings. Additionally, listen for their loud, rhythmic drumming on dead trees or other hard surfaces.

To attract northern flickers to your backyard, consider providing a suet feeder or building a nesting box. These woodpeckers are also known to visit birdbaths for a quick dip or drink of water.

Red-Breasted Sapsucker

The red-breasted sapsucker is a stunning red-headed woodpecker species found in Washington State. With a bright red head, black and white striped back, and yellowish-green breast, these birds are a sight to behold.

Red-breasted sapsuckers are primarily found in coniferous forests, where they prefer to feed on the sap of certain tree species. They are often found drilling small holes in rows on trees, which they return to again and again to feed on the sap and any insects that may be attracted to it.

These woodpeckers are also known for their unique breeding habits. They create small sap wells on trees, which they use to attract and feed their young. Both parents share in the responsibilities of raising the young, which can take up to a month to fledge.

During the fall and winter months, many red-breasted sapsuckers migrate south, with some traveling as far as Central America. However, they can still be spotted in Washington State throughout the year, making them a popular bird for both locals and tourists to observe.

Rufous Hummingbird

The rufous hummingbird is one of the smallest and most colorful birds found in Washington State. These tiny birds have a distinctive red head and throat, with bright orange feathers that shimmer in the sunlight.

Rufous hummingbirds are migratory birds that arrive in Washington State from Mexico and Central America in the spring and summer months, usually between March and May. They often migrate over 2000 miles to reach their breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest.

If you want to attract rufous hummingbirds to your yard, plant tubular flowers like honeysuckle, salvia, or penstemon. You can also hang a hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water. Rufous hummingbirds are known for their aggressive behavior, so you may see them chasing away other hummingbirds from your feeder.

Watching rufous hummingbirds is a popular pastime in Washington State, and there are a number of great spots to observe them in the wild. One of the best places to see rufous hummingbirds is at the Mount Spokane State Park, where they can be seen darting between wildflowers and feeding on nectar.

With their beautiful colors and unique behaviors, rufous hummingbirds are a true pleasure to observe.


Washington State is home to a diverse array of red-headed birds, each with unique physical characteristics and fascinating behaviors. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, exploring these avian species is an exciting and rewarding experience.

Remember to respect their habitats and observe them from a safe distance. Contributing to conservation efforts in the region can also help ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy these magnificent creatures.


Q: Can red-headed birds be found only in Washington State?

A: While Washington State is known for its vibrant population of red-headed birds, such as the red-headed woodpecker and the rufous hummingbird, these species can also be found in other parts of North America.

Q: Are red-headed birds endangered?

A: The conservation status of red-headed birds varies depending on the species. While some, like the red-headed woodpecker, are considered of least concern, others, like the red-breasted sapsucker, may face more significant threats. It’s crucial to support conservation efforts to ensure their long-term survival.

Q: Where is the best place to spot red-headed birds in Washington State?

A: Red-headed birds can be spotted in various habitats throughout Washington State. For the red-headed woodpecker, popular spots include forested areas and parks. The rufous hummingbird can be found in gardens with nectar-rich flowers. The northern flicker may be seen in both urban and natural environments.

Q: How can I attract red-headed birds to my backyard?

A: To attract red-headed birds to your backyard, consider providing food sources specific to their preferences. For example, setting up hummingbird feeders with a nectar solution can attract rufous hummingbirds. Planting trees and shrubs that produce fruits or insects can also attract red-headed woodpeckers and sapsuckers.

Q: Are red-headed birds migratory?

A: Yes, some red-headed bird species, such as the rufous hummingbird, are migratory. They travel long distances to breed in Washington State during the spring and summer months, then migrate to warmer regions during the winter. Other red-headed birds, like the red-headed woodpecker, may be more residential and stay in their habitat year-round.

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