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Which Birds in the UK have Red Heads? (Guide with Pictures)

With over 260 different types of birds in the UK, it can almost be impossible to identify every single species. There are still a fair few contenders to sift through when it comes to birds with red heads or red patches on their heads.

Luckily, we've put together this article with all the birds that may help you with your identification.

The most common birds with red heads

The birds below are the most likely birds to see in the UK that have red heads, as they are generally quite common. However, it can vary slightly depending on your location.

European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

Goldfinch close up

Close up of a Goldfinch

Goldfinch adult and juvenile

Adult and Juvenile Goldfinch

European goldfinch feeding thistle

European goldfinch, feeding on the seeds of thistles

Goldfinch 2

Perched Goldfinch calling before taking off

Goldfinch 3

Typical habitats for Goldfinches include woodland, parks, gardens, scrubland and farmland

Goldfinch perched on branch

Goldfinches have a stable population in the UK

Goldfinch 1

European Goldfinch perched on a branch


12cm to 14cm


21cm to 25.5cm


14g to 19g

Alexander Henderson, XC468562. Accessible at


There is a large population of goldfinches in the UK, and they can be seen everywhere in the country - although they are more popular in Southern England. These birds will usually be around scattered bushes and trees, thistles and any rough ground.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos major

Great spotted woodpecker
Great spotted woodpecker in flight

Great Spotted Woodpecker in-flight through the forest

Great spotted woodpecker calling

Great Spotted Woodpecker calling from the top of a tree stump

Great spotted woodpecker feeding young

Great Spotted Woodpecker female feeding its young

Great spotted woodpecker perching on side of tree trunk

Great Spotted Woodpecker clambering on a tree trunk

Great spotted woodpecker at watering hole

Great Spotted Woodpecker drinking from a watering hole in the forest

Great spotted woodpecker at nest site

Great Spotted Woodpecker male at the nest with its young

Great spotted woodpecker resting on tree stump

Great Spotted Woodpecker resting on top of the stump of a tree

Great spotted woodpecker in flight in natural habitat

Great Spotted Woodpecker in-flight


20cm to 24cm


34cm to 39cm


68g to 93g

Great Spotted Woodpecker

These woodpeckers are usually found in woodland, parks and large gardens. They like more mature, broad trees and conifers. They are much more common in England and Wales but can be seen throughout the country.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are rather fond of peanut feeders and bird tables too.

European Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

Green woodpecker
European green woodpecker 1

European Green Woodpecker perched on a branch

European green woodpecker looking out of the nest

European Green Woodpecker looking out of the nest in a tree

Female european green woodpecker digging in ants nest

European Green Woodpecker digging in ants nest

European green woodpecker in flight

European Green Woodpecker in flight

European green woodpecker 3

Close up of a European Green Woodpecker


30cm to 34cm


40cm to 42cm


180g to 220g

European Green Woodpecker Call

Mathias Götz, XC665473. Accessible at

European Green Woodpecker

These are the largest breeding woodpeckers in the UK, and you can usually see them on garden lawns and in parks. This is because they spend most of their time feeding on the ground, particularly hunting for ants.

Green Woodpeckers can generally be seen throughout the country but are absent from the far north and west and Ireland.

Lesser Redpoll

Acanthis cabaret

Lesser redpoll
Male lesser redpoll

Male Lesser Redpoll in breeding plumage

Female lesser redpoll

Female Lesser Redpoll

Lesser redpoll nonbreeding

Lesser Redpoll in nonbreeding plumage

Lesser redpoll on a feeder

Lesser Redpoll on a garden feeder - they are one of the smallest birds you'll see coming to feeders

Lesser redpoll taking off flight

Lesser Redpoll taking off for flight

Lesser redpoll habitat

Lesser Redpolls are commonly spotted in both deciduous and coniferous woodlands

Lesser redpoll on ground

Close up of a Lesser Redpoll on the ground, foraging for food

Lesser redpoll at feeder

Lesser Redpoll eating nyjer seed from a bird feeder

Lesser redpoll foraging

Lesser Redpoll on the ground, looking for food

Lesser redpoll with seed

Lesser Redpoll on a perch with a seed in beak

Lesser redpoll close

Close up of a Lesser Redpoll


11.5cm to 12.5cm


20cm to 22.5cm


9g to 12g

Lesser Redpoll Call/Song

Marcin Dyduch, XC620926. Accessible at

Lesser Redpoll

You'd assume that the common redpoll would be more common than the lesser redpoll, but the lesser is much more abundant in the UK. These tiny finches were recently split into their own species from the common redpoll. They are only slightly bigger than a blue tit and can mainly be seen in woodland and gardens.

The lesser redpoll has a breeding population across Scotland, northern and eastern England and Wales. You're a lot less likely to see these birds in other parts of England, but sightings can happen during the winter months.


Linaria cannabina

Pair of linnets

Female linnet (left) and male linnet (right)

Linnet 4

Common Linnet close up (male)

Female linnet

Female Linnet

Linnets in flight

Linnets in flight

Linnet chicks

Linnet nest with chicks




21cm to 25.5cm


15g to 22g

Linnet call

Frank Lambert, XC623620. Accessible at


Once a popular caged bird, these small, slender finches are residents over most of the UK and have a well-established population. Male linnets have reddish breasts and foreheads, with females being much browner all over.

Large numbers of these birds can usually be seen along the coast from Kent all the way up to Aberdeenshire. Usually, they can be found on parks, gardens, saltmarshes, farmland hedges and rough ground.


Phasianus colchicus

Pheasant close up
Pheasant male and female

Female and Male Common Pheasant


Male Common Pheasant

Pheasant wings

Common Pheasant with spread wings

Young pheasant

Juvenile Pheasant


53cm to 89cm


70cm to 90cm


1000g to 1.7kg

Pheasant call

Nikolay Sariev, XC627528. Accessible at


These large, vocal gamebirds can be seen almost everywhere across the country. Male pheasants are the more colourful out of the sexes, and they have dark green heads with red face markings.


Erithacus rubecula

Robin singing
European robin close

Close up of a European Robin

Juvenile robin

Juvenile Robin


Close up of a perched Robin

Robin eating mayflies

Robin with a beak full of Mayflies, ready to feed the hungry chicks in the nest

Robin flying

Close up of a Robin in flight

Robin redbreast mealworms

Robin Redbreasts are extremely fond of mealworms

Robin taking a drink

Robin taking a drink of water

Robin and butterfly

Robin standing on a branch next to a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Robin nest

Close up of a Robins nest with unhatched eggs inside

Robin on watering can

Familiar sight of a Robin in a garden, perched on a watering can

Robin in bird bath

Robin taking a bath in a bird bath




20cm to 22cm


14g to 25g

Frank Lambert, XC414220. Accessible at


One of the UK's favourite birds, the robin has a distinctive red breast and can be seen all year round all over the country. Male and female robins look exactly the same, with juveniles having no red breasts; instead, it's a golden brown colour with spots.

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Barn swallow
Barn swallow perching

House Swallow perching on top of a sawn-off branch

Barn swallow perching on a small rock

House Sparrow perching on a small rock

Barn swallow twittering

Barn Swallow perching on a branch twittering

Barn swallow with hover fly in beak

Barn Swallow feeding on a hover fly

Barn swallow in flight over natural habitat

Barn Swallow in-flight over natural habitat

Barn swallow perching on cattail in marshes

Barn Swallow perching on a cattail in the marshes

Barn swallow collecting nestbuilding materials

Barn Swallow collecting materials for nest building

Barn swallows in conflict

Two Barn Swallows in conflict

Barn swallow in flight

Barn Swallow in-flight


17cm to 19cm


32cm to 35cm


16g to 24g


These small birds have reddish throats, glossy blue backs and distinctive long tail streamers. They arrive in the UK for summer and can be seen most of the time performing superb displays in the air. When winter comes, swallows migrate south.

Less common birds with red heads in the UK

The re headed birds below are fairly rare and much less common in the UK. However, it can vary slightly depending on your location.

Common Redpoll

Acanthis flammea

Common redpoll in natural habitat
Common redpoll pair

Male (left) and female (right) Common Redpolls

Common redpoll feeding on ground

Common Redpoll feeding on the ground

Common redpoll calling

Common Redpoll calling out

Common redpoll eating cone seeds

Common Redpoll eating cone seeds from a fir tree

Common redpoll in winter

Common Redpoll during the winter

Common redpoll perching

Common Redpoll perching on a branch

Common redpoll in flight

Common Redpoll in-flight

Common redpoll sitting on nest

Common Redpoll sitting on its nest

Common redpoll sitting on branch

Common Redpoll perching on a branch

Common redpoll flock

Flock of Common Redpolls in-flight


12cm to 14cm


20cm to 25cm


12g to 16g

Common Redpoll

Don't let the name fool you, as the Common Redpoll isn't actually that common at all here in the UK. With an estimated UK breeding of between 1-4 birds and 300 wintering, you'll have to be extremely lucky to see one of these.

In winter, you're most likely to see these birds on the east coast.


Grus grus

Crane 2
Crane 1

Crane with spread wings

Pair of cranes

A pair of Cranes

Crane in flight

Crane in flight

Juvenile crane

Juvenile Crane

Adult crane with young

Adult Crane with young

Cranes doing the mating dance

Cranes doing the mating dance


110cm to 120cm


220cm to 245cm


40g to 70g

Common Crane Call

Lars Edenius, XC648674. Accessible at


These large, pleasant birds have a small breeding population in Norfolk and a re-introduced population in Somerset. In spring and autumn, small numbers can be found passing through Britain.

Cranes are predominately grey but have dark necks, with patches of white and a red mark.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Dryobates minor

Lesser spotted woodpecker 1
Lesser spotted woodpecker 3

Close up of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser spotted woodpecker in flight

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in flight

Female lesser spotted woodpecker

Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser spotted woodpecker close up

Portrait of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Lesser spotted woodpecker 4

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker hanging on a branch

Female lesser spotted woodpecker at nest hole with young

Female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at nest hole with young


14cm to 15cm


25cm to 27cm


17g to 25g

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Song / Call

Paul Bourdin, XC661214. Accessible at

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Unlike the great spotted and green woodpeckers, these small resident woodpeckers are a lot less common. Males are the only sex to have a vibrant red crown.

These woodpeckers are generally much quieter with their tapping and will nest and feed higher up.

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Little grebe
Little grebe swiming gracefully

Little Grebe swimming with young

Little grebe family

Little Grebe family

Little grebe swiming in pond

Little Grebe swimming

Little grebe chick calling

Little Grebe with chick calling for food

Little grebe swimming in river

Little Grebe swimming near the edge of a river

Little grebe swiming

Little Grebe gliding along on the water

Little grebe flapping its wings

Little Grebe flapping its wings

Little grebe parent with chicks

Little Grebe parent at nest with hungry chicks

Little grebe swimming

Little Grebe swimming in lake

Little grebe taking off

Little Grebe taking off from water


25cm to 29cm


40cm to 45cm


100g to 140g

Little Grebe

In the summer months, the little grebe has bright reddish cheeks and throat. They are small and rather plump looking and can sometimes appear to have a fluffy rear end.

These birds can be seen in most parts of the UK, but not usually in upland areas.


Aythya ferina

Pochard male
Female pochard

Female Pochard

Pochard in flight

Flock of Pochards

Pochard male 2

Male Pochard landing on water

Pochard male 3

Male Pochard








During the spring and winter months, it's quite straightforward to distinguish male pochards. Their heads are a reddish-brown colour, with dark breasts and light bodies. Female pochards are often mistaken with other species, as they are mostly brown with grey bodies and pale cheeks.

However, when pochards grow new feathers, males and females do look extremely similar.

Red-Necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena

Red necked grebe


40cm to 46cm


77cm to 85cm


700g to 900g

Red-Necked Grebe

Red Grebes are rare in the UK, with less than 20 of these birds spending the summer here. During winter, the number of these birds increases slightly, but usually not by many.

In summer, these birds have red necks and chests.

Red-Crested Pochard

Netta rufina

Red crested pochard


53cm to 57cm


85cm to 80cm


900g to 1.4kg

Red-Crested Pochard

Males have orange-brown heads, with pale flanks and red beaks. Females have pale cheeks and are brown all over.

Spain has a substantial population of red-crested pochards, but closer to the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany all have small but good populations of these birds.

This is where sometimes the occasional bird will come over to the UK. All of the breeding birds in the UK are said to come from escaped birds.


Bombycilla garrulus

Waxwing 2
Waxwing 1

Waxwing feeding on berries

Waxwing close up

Close up of a Waxwing

Waxwing pair feeding

Pair of feeding Waxwings




32cm to 35cm


45g to 70g

A group of four Waxwings calling

Peter Stronach, XC625925. Accessible at


Waxwings are winter visitors to the UK and are slightly smaller than starlings in size. They don't breed in the UK but can be seen in large numbers during some winters.

They have a very distinctive crest, with reddish-brown bodies and black throats. They have a yellow tip on their tails, white and yellow on the wings and small black masks around their eyes.

What is the most common bird with a red head?

The most common bird you'll see in the UK with a red head, will probably be either a Robin or Goldfinch. This is because out of the red-headed birds they are by far the most popular and are much more likely to visit your garden than most of the others.

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