Northern Cardinal
Cardinalis cardinalis
Family Cardinalidae

The nearly-unmistakable cardinal is a frequent inhabitant of city parks and suburban backyards, where its vibrant red color makes it easily spotted as it forages for seeds.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Vibrant red body, wings and tail
  • Prominent black face mask
  • Heavy, triangular, red-orange bill
  • Pointed crest
  • Size: 21 cm (8”)
  • Weight: 45 g (1.6oz)

 

Identifying Traits (female):

  • Buffy brown body
  • Wings, tail, and crest all tinted with red
  • Prominent black face mask
  • Heavy, triangular, red-orange bill
  • Pointed crest
  • Juvenile: Similar to female, but with less red on wings and tail and with a black bill rather than red-orange.
     
Adult male  
     

Voice: The cardinal’s cheerful song is a short series of whistling notes, descending in pitch.  Common forms include what-chee, cheery cheery cheery or whoit whoit whoit.  The call of a cardinal is a sharp chip!

Habitat: Cardinals can be found near woodland edges, as well as in thickets and suburban backyards.

Range: The Northern cardinal is a year-round resident throughout the eastern and central United States, except in the northernmost parts of Vermont and Maine.

Interesting Facts: Male cardinals, like most birds, are very protective of their nesting sites.  However, cardinals are so pugnacious that they will attempt to attack even their own reflection.  Records have been made of cardinals “fighting” with mirrors, windows and the like for hours on end.

   
 

 

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