9 Birds That Look Like Cardinals

Updated: Apr. 20, 2022

Cardinals are also known as redbirds, but not every red bird is a cardinal. Check out some other birds that look like cardinals.

birds that look like cardinals, pyrrhuloxia
Courtesy Patricia Vilnit


Pyrrhuloxia birds look like cardinals; in fact, they are sometimes called the desert cardinal. This species an be found in the Southwest and has the same impressive crest as the northern cardinal. The coloring is a bit different, though: Male pyrrhuloxias are mostly gray with red accents. Want to spot a cool pyrrhuloxia? Visit the southern regions of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Check out simply stunning photos of cardinals.

scarlet tanager
Courtesy Victoria Martel

Scarlet Tanager

Several red birds look like cardinals at a glance. Scarlet tanagers have solid red heads and bodies with black wings and tail feathers. These migrating birds tend to stay high in the treetops. Check out 4 vibrant tanager species you should to know.

summer tanager
Courtesy Bill Palmer

Summer Tanager

Summer tanagers are all red birds, without the black wings and tail of the scarlet tanager, and no black eye mask like cardinals. Look for them in southern states. They are not as numerous as cardinals, so spotting one is an exciting find for bird-watchers. Discover 8 surprising facts about tanagers.

vermilion flycatcher
Courtesy Joseph Mandy

Vermilion Flycatcher

One of the best places to see vibrant red vermilion flycatchers is Saguaro National Park in Arizona, where there is no shortage of desert scrub habitat. They have a black eye mask similar to a cardinal, and black wings and tail feathers like scarlet tanagers. Discover the desert birds of the southwest.

Phainopepla, desert birds
Courtesy Leslie Pardo


This unique species looks like a black or dark gray cardinal with a red eye. The phainopepla can be found in the southwestern U.S. Check out proven ways to attract and identify cardinals.

Red Crossbill Perching
CarolinaBirdman/Getty Images

Red Crossbill

Another red bird to look for is the red crossbill. For a positive ID, look at the bird’s uniquely shaped bill. Crossbills may show up almost anywhere—they are the ultimate nomads of the bird world.

Don’t get confused! Learn the differences between robins and these 7 birds that look like robins.

Close-up of bird perching on branch
Peder Lundkvist / 500px/Getty Images

Pine Grosbeak

This species typically stays far up north, but it might show up in winter at your feeders. So if you see a flash of reddish-pink feathers in a snowy tree, don’t just automatically assume it’s a cardinal. Psst—we found the best cardinal bird feeders and birdseed.

tufted titmouse eating peanuts
Courtesy Benjamin Blyther

Tufted Titmouse

Yes, the tufted titmouse is gray and white, not red, but its head crest might trick you into thinking it is a female cardinal. Here’s how to attract titmice to visit your backyard.

cedar waxwing
Courtesy Deborah Bryk

Cedar Waxwing

There are so many colors in a cedar waxwing! They have a head crest and a black mask, so when viewed from a distance, these birds look like cardinals. Look for colorful feathers on their wing tips and tail. You’ll probably find these birds around a berry bush. Learn how to tell the difference between bohemian waxwings vs cedar waxwings.