11 Stunning Birds with Red Eyes [Pictures & Guide]

birds with red eyes
Photo by Colter Olmstead on Unsplash 

Some of the most stunning sights in nature come from birds with red eyes that seem to glow in the day light or twinkle at night like burning embers.

Here are eleven gorgeous birds with red eyes you can spot around your backyard or on your next birdwatching vacation.

Birds with red eyes including:

  • Zebra Finches
  • Cooper’s Hawks
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Phainopepla
  • American Coot
  • Wood Duck
  • White-Winged Dove
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • White-Tailed Kite

Zebra Finches

zebra finches

Zebra finches are small, colorful songbirds native to Australia, often kept as pets due to their friendly personality and ability to trust humans and produce beautiful sounds. 

They come in various color patterns, including white, brown, red, or black, and mainly feed on seeds, dry food, fresh fruits, or vegetables.

Fun facts

  • When it comes time to breed, they will find the perfect mate.
  • The female will build the nest while the male provides most of the care for the eggs and chicks.
  • Both parents feed the chicks until they fledge.
  • Zebra Finches do not migrate.
  • Adults are more active during dawn and dusk than during day or night.

Cooper’s Hawks

cooper's hawks
Photo by Caleb Wright on Unsplash 

The Cooper’s Hawk has a bright red eye that is easy to spot when they are perched in a tree or soaring high up in the sky. They’re large birds of prey that live across North and South America.

These birds are large, roughly 3 to 4 pounds, 14 to 20 in length, and have wingspan nearly 29 to 37 inches wide. 

They live in various habitats but prefer wooded areas or open fields with scattered trees where they can hunt small mammals like rodents and rabbits. 

Fun Facts

  • Cooper’s hawks have been known to attack other raptors and bird species, such as crows, gulls, vultures, turkey vultures, and others. 
  • They often kill their prey by striking it with their talons and immediately eating it. 
  • Their diet typically consists of around 70% birds and 30% small mammals.

Red-eyed Vireo

red-eyed vireo

The Red-eyed Vireo is a small bird you can find in various habitats across eastern woodlands. Its name derives from the red coloration of its eyes, more noticeable in the breeding season. 

This is one of the few birds that feed on ticks and other bloodsucking arthropods. Its diet consists mainly of insects, but it’ll also feed on nectar and fruit if available.

They nest near water or moist areas such as bogs, swamps, and wet meadows. They can be found year-round in much of their range.

Fun Facts

  • In general, males sing more than females; however, females are more likely to sing when raising the young alone.
  • These migratory songbirds migrate sluggishly along forest edges (which serve as corridor habitats).
  • Red-eyed Vireos are hard to see at night because their plumage is similar in color to tree bark and twigs.

Great Crested Grebe

great crested grebe

The Great Crested Grebe is a small waterbird with a striking red eye. It’s the smallest grebe species in North or South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. 

It has a slender body with an elongated neck strong enough to catch fish. These birds are migratory and will migrate to warmer climates during winter.

You can find them walking through mud looking for worms or snails or chasing insects over fields near lakes and rivers where they feed on small invertebrates.

Fun Facts

  • One of the most exciting things about this bird’s anatomy is its webbed toes excellent for swimming underwater. 
  • They lay two eggs at a time, one on each side of the nest, so if one falls out, another is still left inside.
  • The young Great Crested Grebes ride on their parent’s backs.
  • Once the eggs hatch, both parents will work together to care for their young until they are strong enough to fend for themselves.
  • Their feathers make them well-adapted to cold climates, but they can also cope with warm temperatures quite well.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

black-crowned night-heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron is a migratory bird found on both coasts of North America. They’re small herons, weighing up to 1.7 pounds and around 23 to 28 inches tall. 

They have dark brown feathers that turn black at the top of their head and neck. These herons also have thick necks, heavy, pointed bills, and large, flat heads.

They live in marshes and wet prairies, where they hunt for fish, frogs, crabs, and insects at night.

Fun Facts

  • This bird can swim or dive deep into the water, looking for food.
  • The herons either nest on the ground or high in trees or bushes.
  • They’re one of a few nocturnal birds called Night Herons because they sleep during the day and then hunt for food at night.



Phainopepla is a medium-sized bird that lives in mesic and semi-arid regions. It’s one of the famous birds that look like cardinals!

Its name derives from the Greek phrase “pain people,” meaning “shining robe.” The Phainopepla is a member of the crow family, but it has a large, round head and small beak.

In addition to its distinctive black cap, this bird’s face has a bright red eye, and its bill is black. It primarily eats fruits from cactus plants or trees.

Fun Facts

  • Males are pitch black, slender, and long-haired with an elegant crest and broad white patches on the wings that emerge when they fly. 
  • Phainopepla is monogamous breeders, and they may mate for life.
  • If a couple becomes separated, they will search for each other by calling their names until they find each other again.

American Coot

american coot

The American Coot resides primarily in wetland habitats like freshwater marshes, salt marshes, and coastal areas. The coot is black and white with a long bill used to catch fish.

Their most striking feature is their bright red eyes that make it look very intense when looking up close. Their scaled-toed legs help them walk on dry land, unlike ducks with webbed feet.

Fun Facts

  • They’re also known as a mud hen or pouldeau
  • They love standing with one leg on logs, rocks, or wetlands at water edges.
  • Females are bigger than males and have more feathers around their faces. 

Wood Duck

wood duck

Wood ducks are a type of North American duck that lives in the eastern United States and Canada. They typically swim in lakes, ponds, marshes, and wetlands during the summer. 

A population of Wood Ducks also resides permanently on Martha’s Vineyard Island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts coast, where they nest each year in small freshwater ponds.

These ducks are often seen during the day since they are not nocturnal like many other types of waterfowl. 

Fun Facts

  • This duck is monogamous, meaning it stays with one partner for life and usually lays about six eggs at a time.
  • The male wood ducks are the most recognizable in the U.S, and they use their kaleidoscopic feathers to attract females during the mating season.
  • Both males and females will flash their white wing patches to show aggression or interest during mating season. 
  • A female can lay 10-15 eggs that hatch within 30 days if brooded by her mate but take up to 50 days if another animal or human incubates them.

White-Winged Dove

white-winged dove

The White-Winged Dove is a member of the Columbidae family and is native to North America, southern Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia. 

You can find it in open country, rocky areas, coastal cliffs, gardens, and wooded habitats. Its most notable feature is its red eyes which help distinguish it from other doves.

The diet of these birds consists of seeds and grains, but they will also eat insects and other small creatures when hunting.

Fun Facts

  • These doves are mainly monogamous, which means they only have one mate for life.

Red-Breasted Merganser

red-breasted merganser

The Red-breasted Merganser is a striking bird to behold. They have long, pointed bills and are known for their exaggerated dive and surface display. 

This particular duck species have bright red eyes that stand out against the black feathers around its face. 

Red-breasted Merganser is most active during the day, but they also like to hunt at night. They often nest in tree cavities near the water and their hunting grounds. 

Fun Facts

  • Red-breasted Mergansers are also known as fish duck, Sawbill, or trash duck.
  • They live in lakes and rivers during nesting season and then migrate to coastal waters, estuaries, and bays during winter.

White-Tailed Kite

white-tailed kite

The White-tailed Kite is a small species of hawk and, as its name suggests, has a distinctive all-white tail. This bird is common throughout North and South America.

It’s often seen soaring in the sky like a kite, looking for food and hunting on the ground. They eat insects, lizards, and sometimes bigger prey like birds and mammals. 

Fun Facts

  • When it was discovered, it was given this name because it was first thought to be a type of kite.
  • Their color looks similar to the gulls, but when you consider their body shape and flight, they resemble the Florida falcons.

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