Northern Cardinal: Large crested finch with vivid red body; nape, back and rump darker red, feathers lightly tipped with gray; lores, lower forehead, area around bill and most of throat black; inner webs of flight feathers pink-gray, outer webs red with dark, dull red wing coverts and alula; rectrices more dull dark red; iris deep brown; bill orange-red; legs medium-brown; black mask and chin. Female is duller, washed with gray, and has smaller crest. Juvenile resembles female but is browner will little to no crest and has dark bill.
Range and Habitat
Northern Cardinal: Native to the Nearctic region. Found throughout eastern and central North America from southern Canada into parts of Mexico and Central America. Introduced to California, Hawaii and Bermuda. Habitats include edges of woods, hedgerows, lowlands, suburban areas, swamps, streamside thickets, and vegetation around houses.
Breeding and Nesting
Northern Cardinal: Typically, these birds are monogamous. They breed from March to September. One to five white to greenish eggs are laid in a nest made of twigs, weeds, grass, bark strips and leaves, lined with hair and grass. The nest is built in a low tree or bush, usually less than five feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 12 to 13 days and is mostly carried out by the female.
Foraging and Feeding
Northern Cardinal: These cardinals are opportunistic feeders. They forage in trees, on bushes and on the ground in open areas where wild seeds are available, including fields, meadows and forest leaf litter. They also eat insects, fruits and snails. They commonly peel grapes in their bill to remove the pulp and seed and discard the skin.
Safflower, Apple Slices, Suet, Millet, Peanut Kernels, Fruit
Northern Cardinal: Sings a variety of gurgling and clear whistled melodies, with more than twenty-five different songs. Best-known phrases include "whoit cheer, whoit cheer, cheer-cheer-cheer", "cheer, whoit-whoit-whoit-whoit", "wheat-wheat-wheat-wheat", and "bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy." Female sings duets with male during courtship. Call is an abrasive metallic "chip" or "pik."
Northern Cardinal: Pyrrhuloxia has a stubby, sharply curved yellow bill, red eye-ring, gray upperparts, and red wash on throat and underparts.