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Northern Cardinal - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Cardinalis cardinalis)
Adult male, nominate subspecies
Photo © by SulairDH
Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 4 June 2005
Cardinalis cardinalis


Photo © by Danielbirdwatcher
Summerville, South Carolina, USA, 28 January 2021

Male 22–23·5 cm (8½-9¼in), female 21–21·6 cm (8¼-8½ in)
All ages and sexes have a crest and large, conical bill

  • All red with black mask and chin
  • Wings have some gray
  • Orange bill


  • Brown overall with some red in wings, face, and tail
  • Red bill

Similar to female but bill is dark instead of red.


United States and Mexico. Introduced populations are found in Hawaii and Bermuda.


Juvenile Male
Photo © by Larry D Smith
Arizona, USA, 21 July 2007

Formerly placed in the genus Richmondena


There are 18 subspecies[1]:

  • C. c. superbus: Extremee California to Arizona, south-western New Mexico and northern Sonora
  • C. c. seftoni: Central Baja California (south to latitude 27°N)
  • C. c. igneus: Southern Baja California (north to latitude 27°N)
  • C. c. clintoni: Isla Cerralvo (Gulf of California)
  • C. c. townsendi: Isla Tiburón (Sea of Cortés) and adjacent coastal Sonora
  • C. c. affinis: Western Mexico (south-eastern Sonora to south-western Chihuahua and western Durango)
  • C. c. sinaloensis: Coastal western Mexico (Sinaloa and Jalisco)
  • C. c. mariae: Tres Marías Islands (off western Mexico)
  • C. c. cardinalis: Eastern US
  • C. c. floridanus: South-eastern Georgia and peninsula Florida
  • C. c. magnirostris: South-eastern Texas and southern Louisiana
  • C. c. canicaudus: Western Oklahoma and western Texas to east-central Mexico
  • C. c. coccineus: Eastern Mexico (eastern San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, north-eastern Puebla and n Oaxaca)
  • C. c. littoralis: Lowlands of eastern Mexico (southern Veracruz and Tabasco)
  • C. c. yucatanicus: South-eastern Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula)
  • C. c. flammiger: South-eastern Mexico (southern Quintana Roo), Belize and Petén of northern Guatemala
  • C. c. saturatus: Cozumel Island (off Quintana Roo)
  • C. c. carneus: (Long Crested) Coastal western Mexico (Colima to Isthmus of Tehuántepec)
Juvenile Female
Photo © by Larry D Smith
Arizona, USA, 18 July 2007


Suburban Woodlands and parks, mixed forests and forest edges, back yards, high desert.


Photo © by Deerbird
Kentucky, USA, 18 February 2018

Winter flocks can be very large, up to 60 or 70 individuals in areas of abundance.


Their diet consists mostly of fruit and berries, buds, seeds and flowers, insects being included during the summer.


Male courts female by singing, chasing, and fluttering of wings. Once paired the male feeds the female. May mate for life.
The shallow cup-shaped nest is constructed mainly by the female from twigs, bark, grass and leaves. The clutch consists of 3-4 eggs which are incubated for 12-13 days. The young fledge at about 10 days. The youngsters are generally looked after by the male.

There may be a second brood.


Song: a clear whistling song. Females will sing along with the male.
It appears there may be varying accents in different localities.


Recording © by NJLarsen, Donnelley WMA, South Carolina, USA, 8 May 2023. The Merlin app reports several other species in the background. I do not really believe they are audible under normal circumstances.


Generally sedentary with irregular, occasional long-distance movements.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  3. BirdForum Member observations
  4. Virtual Nature Trail at Penn State
  5. Brewer, D. (2020). Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/62186 on 11 February 2020).
  6. Halkin, S. L. and S. U. Linville (1999). Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), version 1.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.440
  7. Pratt, H.D., Bruner, P., and Berrett, D.G. (1987) A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press.
  8. Pyle, R.L., and P. Pyle. 2017. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status. B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 2 (1 January 2017) http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph/

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1