Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Red, Orange, & Yellow Birds of Texas

Did you see a brightly-colored red bird, orange bird, or yellow bird in Texas and wonder what is was?

This page is for you!

This article shows you photos and identification of some of the most common birds in Texas based on color.

The list of birds found in Texas includes over 675 species. So, I can't show you all of them. I'm going to assume that you saw a common bird of this color, but you certainly could have seen something less common, or even rare!

Shape (including the shape of the bill) and size are often more helpful in starting to identify a bird than the color. In fact, most birds in North American can be easily identified with a black-and-white photo!

Many birds are multi-colored, so that it may be hard to pick out a dominant color. Males and females may be colored quite differently. And some color patterns are similar among otherwise dissimilar species.

Nevertheless, I'm going to try to pick out some of the birds that you are most likely to see in backyards or towns. And I'll show a few others that I get asked about a lot.


The birds with a noticeable amount of red on them in Texas covered in this article are:

  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Northern Cardinal
  • House Finch
  • American Robin
  • Summer Tanager
  • Pyrrhuloxia


The birds with a noticeable amount of orange on them in Texas covered in this article are:

  • Ruddy Duck
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Bullock's Oriole
  • Barn Swallow
  • Spotted Towhee
  • American Redstart


The birds with a noticeable amount of yellow on them, including lots of yellow and black birds, in Texas covered in this article are:

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • American Goldfinch
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Western Kingbird
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Wilson's Warbler
  • Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Yellow-breasted Chat


Red birds of Texas


Birds get the red, orange, and yellow in their feathers from carotenoids in the fruit, seeds, and plants they eat (source). 

These carotenoid colors combine with melanin to form an infinite range of red feathers--pink, rusty, scarlet, violet, red-orange.

The following are red birds that you are most likely to see in Texas.



Vermilion Flycatcher

These small desert birds are a glowing hurt-your-eyes red!


Photo of Vermilion Flycatcher
Male Vermilion Flycatcher. Greg Gillson.


Males are brilliant red on the crown and underparts. The back, wings, and tail are dark sooty brown.

Females and immature birds are paler. They are more grayish brown above, white below with streaked breast and belly that may be peachy yellow to orange-pink.

They are found in deserts near water, pastures, golf courses, ball fields.

Vermilion Flycatchers are summer residents in western Texas, year-round residents in southmost Texas, and winter visitors along the Gulf coast. 


Northern Cardinal

These are one of the most common backyard birds in the eastern United States. Their bright red color and unique head profile makes them instantly identifiable to most people--whether they are bird watchers or not!


Photo of Northern Cardinal on feeder
Northern Cardinal. GeorgeB2 from Pixabay.


Males of these large seed eaters are bright red with a black face and red crest.

Females replace most of the red with brown, The bill is large and orange.

These birds are found in woodlands, stream edges, residential areas.

Northern Cardinals are year round residents throughout Texas.


House Finch

When people ask about a bird with a red head at their feeder, it is usually this bird.


Photo of House Finch in tree top
Male House Finch. Greg Gillson.


Males of this dusty brown striped finch have red limited to the head (specifically the forehead and eyebrow), breast (chest), and rump. The red coloration tends toward orangish, and may rarely be yellowish.

Females are streaked, similar to the males but without red. They lack any strong pattern on the face and head.

Note the small round head and curved upper ridge on the bill.

Some people call these red-headed sparrows. Sparrows and finches are similar, but in general, male finches are brighter than the females and tend to hang out more in trees. Sparrow genders are usually quite similar in coloration and tend to feed mostly on the ground. 

These birds are common in residential areas, especially at bird feeders. In the West more widespread in arid regions near water.

House Finches are year-round residents throughout Texas, rare right along the coast. 


American Robin

These are familiar lawn birds with red breasts. 


Photo of American Robin on lawn.
American Robin. Greg Gillson.


Male American Robins are brownish-gray above with a brick red breast. Females are paler orange below and paler gray above.

They are widespread in open country with scattered deciduous trees, residential areas.

American Robins are year-round residents throughout most of Texas, winter visitors only along the border with Mexico.


Summer Tanager

These bright red birds are found toward the tops of tall trees in the southern United States.


Photo of Summer Tanager in cottonwood
Summer Tanager. Greg Gillson.


Males are rose red with fairly heavy bill.

Females are yellowish or mustard-colored, some with a faint reddish wash.

In the East these birds are found in pine-oak woodlands. In the West they prefer tall cottonwood trees.

Summer Tanagers are summer residents in the eastern and southern parts of Texas.


Pyrrhuloxia

These gray and red desert birds are shaped like cardinals, to which they are related.


Photo of Pyrrhuloxia on rock wall
Pyrrhuloxia. Uploaded by berichard, CC BY 2.0, Link


Males are pale gray with red highlights on face, crest, and chest.

Females are gray and buff-colored, with only a hint of red. The bill is yellowish and strongly curved on the culmen (upper ridge).

These birds are found in thorny desert scrub, such as mesquite, and also ranches.

Pyrrhuloxias are year-round residents in southwestern Texas, some movement northeastward in winter.



Orange birds of Texas


True orange-colored birds are not that common. Many birds that I have here are paler rusty.

The common pattern is an orange body and black or brown wings and tail. Another common pattern is for the orange to be restricted to the under parts.

The following are orange birds that you are most likely to see in Texas.



Ruddy Duck

These small ducks are dark rusty-orange in spring.


Photo of Ruddy Duck swimming on lake
Ruddy Duck. Greg Gillson.


Males in breeding plumage (late winter and spring) are rusty, with a white face, and a blue bill. The long tail is often held sticking up. In winter they are brown, with white face, and dark bill.

Females all year are like winter males. Brown body, dark cap, dark line through eye of pale face. Dark bill.

These birds prefer weedy ponds to breed, but in winter may be found in deeper ponds in city parks.

Ruddy Ducks are winter visitors throughout Texas.


Orchard Oriole

Males of these orioles are darker rustier-orange than most other orioles in the United States.


Photo of Orchard Oriole on branch
Orchard Oriole. Dan Pancamo. Flikr. CC BY-SA 2.0


Males have a black hood and back, black wings and tail. The under parts are rusty-orange or even chestnut-brown.

Females are greenish above, lemon yellow below. They have 2 thin white wing bars. The bill is thinner than many other orioles.

They are found in orchards and residential shade trees.

Orchard Orioles are summer residents throughout most of Texas.


Bullock's Oriole

These bright orange and black birds are often seen in tall trees.


Photo of Bullock's Oriole in willows.
Male Bullock's Oriole. Greg Gillson.


The males of this species are very bright orange. The back and top of the heads are black. The black wings have large white wing patches. The tail is black with orange sides. The face is orange with a black line through the eye and a black throat.

Females and young are gray with yellow head and breast and tail.

These birds are more common in drier inland regions along watercourses in tall cottonwoods or shade trees. Rarely come to feeders for fruit or nectar in spring.

Bullock's Orioles are summer residents in the western half of Texas.


Barn Swallow

These orange-bellied birds are a familiar sight across North America in summer.


Photo of Barn Swallows on wooden railing.
Barn Swallow. Greg Gillson.


These birds are purple-blue above with orange under parts and long forked tails. The color of the underparts in winter or on females are often cinnamon or buff-colored, but breeding males can be brighter orange-red.

These birds swoop low over fields and wetlands at lower elevations. They may build their mud nests in rafters on porches, garages, or other out-buildings.

Barn Swallows are summer residents throughout Texas. 


Spotted Towhee

These big sparrows with rusty-orange sides superficially resemble the coloration of robins. 


Photo of Spotted Towhee in pine tree sapling
Spotted Towhee. Greg Gillson.


These birds have dark hoods and upper parts with rusty rufous-orange sides and white bellies. They have white spots over their wings, shoulders, and on their tail corners. The upper parts of the males are jet black, females dark brown. Some populations have paler orange sides.

These are somewhat shy birds that hide in the dense brush and spend most of their time on the ground. They visit feeders during quiet periods.

Spotted Towhees are year-round residents in westernmost Texas, winter visitors throughout most of Texas. 


American Redstart

In flight these small warblers flash orange or yellow in the wing and based of the tail.


Photo of American Redstart on branch
American Redstart. Dennis Jarvis. Flikr. CC BY-SA 2.0


Males are black above, white on the belly. They have bright orange patches on side of breast, wings, and base of the tail.

Females are grayer, especially on the head/ The orange of males is replaced by yellow on the females.

These birds are found in regenerating woods after a clear cut, and willow tangles along streams.

American Redstarts are migrants in spring and fall throughout Texas. They are also summer residents in the far eastern part of Texas.



Yellow birds of Texas


Yellow is a common bird color! Often it is mixed with black and white plumage in birds.

Many birds with darker upper parts have yellow breast or belly.

The following are yellow birds you are most likely to see in Texas.



Yellow-rumped Warbler

These are abundant warblers across North America. Affectionately called "butter butts" by many birders, because of their bright yellow rumps that flash in flight.


Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler on weed stock
Male Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler. Greg Gillson.


Western form (Audubon's) with bright yellow throat and yellow rump. Large white wing patch.

Northern and Eastern form (Myrtle) with white throat, yellow rump, and two white wing bars.

Winter birds are dull gray brown, with bright yellow rump. Throat may be cream colored or white. Often difficult to tell the two forms apart in winter.


Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler on tree
Winter Yellow-rumped Warbler. Greg Gillson.


Breed in mountain or boreal conifers. Widespread in migration. Winter in low river bottoms, open weedy deciduous areas. Rarely come to feeders in winter.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are spring and fall migrants and winter visitors throughout Texas, the Audubon's form more restricted to western Texas. 


Cedar Waxwing

These crested birds with yellow band on the end of the tail are often found in flocks. They eat flying insects in summer, fruit and berries the rest of the year.


Photo of Cedar Waxwing in tree
Cedar Waxwing. Greg Gillson.


These birds are fawn-brown above, with dark gray wings and tail. They have a black mask and wispy crest. The belly is yellow. The wings have waxy red drops on the end of the tertials. The end of the tail has a brilliant yellow tail band.

They are found in open habitats with berries, including juniper woodlands and towns in winter.

Cedar Waxwings are winter visitors throughout Texas.


American Goldfinch

These small little birds are bright yellow and black.


Photo of American Goldfinch on twig
American Goldfinch. Greg Gillson.


Males are bright lemon yellow with black and white wings and tail, black cap. White under tail coverts. Pink bill.

Females are duller yellow below and brownish above. Lack black cap.

Winter birds are pale brown or gray, a touch of yellow on the throat of males.

These are birds of open country, fields with saplings, clear cuts, residential areas. They avoid dense forests, mountains, deserts. They visit feeders.

American Goldfinches are winter visitors throughout Texas. 


Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinches maintain their bright yellow plumage all year--even in the winter when American Goldfinches are rather brown and colorless.


Photo of Lesser Goldfinch in willows
Male Lesser Goldfinch. Greg Gillson.


These tiny birds are bright yellow below (including under the tail), and green or black on the back. The wings and tail are black and white. Males have a black cap, which the females lack.

These birds are found near water in arid regions of the West and Southwest. They are common in residential areas, too, and come to bird feeders.

Lesser Goldfinches are summer residents in the western half of Texas, year-round residents in the southwestern part of the state.


Eastern Meadowlark

These pale brown birds with the brilliant yellow breasts are home on the ground in prairies. They sing from perches on isolated trees, power poles, fence posts.


Photo of Eastern Meadowlark on twig
Eastern Meadowlark
Photo by Mike's Birds from Riverside, CA, US [CC BY-SA 2.0]


The upper parts are streaked black, white, brown, so they blend into the dried grass where they live. The under parts are bright yellow with a black necklace across the chest. Very similar to Western Meadowlark, best told apart by spring song.

These birds live in prairies and extensive pasture lands.

Eastern Meadowlarks are year-round residents throughout most of Texas, winter visitors only in parts of central Texas.


Common Yellowthroat

These buttery yellow birds are abundant in the marsh vegetation.


Photo of Common Yellowthroat in maple
Male Common Yellowthroat. Greg Gillson.


These skulkers have bright yellow throats and yellow undertail coverts. Males have a black domino mask edged broadly in white, which females lack. Upperparts are dull olive-green.

Immature males in fall show a shadowed black mask.

Found in damp situations and heavy deciduous brambles following clear cuts.

Common Yellowthroats are winter visitors in the south half of Texas. They are year-round residents in the southeastern part of the state and the southwestern part along the Rio Grande River. Common Yellowthroats are summer residents only in the northeastern and panhandle parts of Texas. They are migrants only in the northwest-central part of the state.


Western Kingbird

These yellow-bellied birds of the prairies often perch on power lines and fence lines.


Photo of Western Kingbird on a branch
Western Kingbird. Greg Gillson.


These birds are pale gray on the head and breast. Brown wings. The belly is lemon yellow. Black tail has white outer tail feathers, especially obvious in flight.

These are birds of prairies, deserts, pastures, often near water.

Western Kingbirds are summer residents throughout most of Texas, migrants only in the far eastern part of the state.


Yellow Warbler

The golden yellow sun packed all into one little bird! Appears to be an all-yellow bird.


Photo of Yellow Warbler on branch
Yellow Warbler. Greg Gillson.


Some populations are bright yellow, some tend toward greenish on upper parts, some more golden. Yellow internal tail corners in flight.

Males with red breast streaking, again, variable by population.

Females somewhat to much paler yellow, some greenish, some whitish. Lack red streaks.

These birds are found in willow thickets on the edge of wetlands and ditches, stream sides in arid regions.

Yellow Warblers are spring and fall migrants only through Texas.


Nashville Warbler

These birds with the bright yellow underparts do a good job of hiding!


Photo of Nashville Warbler in tree
Nashville Warbler. Greg Gillson.


These birds are gray above. The throat and breast and under tail coverts are bright lemon yellow. The belly is white. They have a complete white eye ring.

Females are just a bit paler than males.

These birds are found in re-growing clear cuts, and understory brush in open woods.

Nashville Warblers are fall migrants throughout Texas, and spring migrants only in the eastern half of Texas. A few also winter in the southern tip of Texas.


Wilson's Warbler

These bright yellow birds are very common, both on their summer territories and in migration.


Photo of Wilson's Warbler on branch
Male Wilson's Warbler. Greg Gillson.


These birds are bright yellow in the West, more greenish above in the East. Only males have the black cap.

Both genders have a beady black eye in the middle of the yellow face.

These birds live in damp understory, tangles, willows.

Wilson's Warblers are spring and fall migrants throughout Texas.


Northern Flicker

These woodpeckers spend much time eating ants on the ground.


Photo of intergrade Northern Flicker in tree
Northern Flicker. Greg Gillson.


These birds are larger than robins with brown and black barred upper parts. The underparts are pink with round black spots. There is a black crescent across the chest. When they fly away from you they reveal a large white rump.

Western birds have salmon-red under wings and under tail. Those in the East are colored yellow. The male face differs between the two populations--black whisker on the eastern birds, red whisker on western birds. Intergrades from overlap on Great Plains common. These may show male facial characteristics of both populations, or yellow-orange flight feathers.

These birds live in open woods with bare ground for foraging, residential yards.

Northern Flickers of the Eastern population with yellow flight feathers are year-round residents in northern Texas, winter visitors in eastern Texas. Intergrades are fairly common in western Texas.


Great Crested Flycatcher

These flycatchers have long tails and big heads with big bill and bright yellow belly.


Photo of Great Crested Flycatcher on branch
Great Crested Flycatcher. Simard Francois. Pixabay.


These birds are gray on the face and breast, brownish on rest of upper parts. Bright lemon yellow belly. The under side of the tail and some feathers of the wing are cinnamon colored.

These birds stay in the canopy of open woods.

Great Crested Flycatchers are summer residents in eastern Texas.


Yellow-breasted Chat

This unique larger yellow bird may sing day and night, and includes whistles and crow-like cawing often given in a display flight.

 

Photo of Yellow-breasted Chat in tree
Yellow-breasted Chat. Greg Gillson.


These birds are greenish above with bright yellow breast and white belly. They have a dark mask bordered with white.

These birds live in tangles and wet woods.

Yellow-breasted Chats are summer residents throughout much of Texas, and spring and fall migrants throughout.




Related:

See photos and learn about the most common backyard birds in Texas, regardless of color.

See photos and learn what to feed winter birds in Texas.

Here's a quick tutorial of how I would teach you to identify birds: 7 Steps to Identify Birds!

Birds with red heads in North America.

Yellow-and-black birds in North America.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for visiting! Would you please leave a comment to let me know what you thought and how I can make this resource better for you?

--Greg--

Legal Disclosure
As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Legal disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.

Featured Post

Bird Watching Basics: How to start bird watching

Many people seek the peace and beauty that the natural world brings. Birds are frequently the most active and colorful living creatures enco...