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Northern Cardinal

From Opus

Adult MalePhoto by SulairDHAtlanta, Georgia, USA
Adult Male
Photo by SulairDH
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Cardinalis cardinalis


[edit] Identification

Adult FemalePhoto by tetoneonNew Jersey, USA, July 2015
Adult Female
Photo by tetoneon
New Jersey, USA, July 2015

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.

[edit] Distribution

United States and Mexico.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Juvenile FemalePhoto by Larry D Smith
Juvenile Female
Photo by Larry D Smith
Juvenile MalePhoto by Larry D Smith
Juvenile Male
Photo by Larry D Smith

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. carneus: (Long Crested) Coastal western Mexico (Colima to Isthmus of Tehuántepec)
  • 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)

[edit] Habitat

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

[edit] Behaviour

MalePhoto by DeerbirdKentucky, February 2018
Photo by Deerbird
Kentucky, February 2018

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

[edit] Diet

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

[edit] Breeding

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.

[edit] Vocalisation

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

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Cornell
  3. BF Member observations

[edit] External Links


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