The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a member of the bunting family. It is 8-3/4" from beak to tail. The males are red in color with a black mask. The females are buffy brown with a red tint on the crest, wings, and tail. Both the male and female have heavy, cone-shaped, reddish-orange beaks which have extra strength for cracking larger seeds. The song of the Northern Cardinal is variable, but it has several common variations. Some of the more common vocalizations include a song that sounds like the bird is saying, birdie birdie birdie, one that sounds like, what ch-eer what what what, and one that is commonly described by children as a toy laser gun. The call is a loud, metallic sounding chip. Both males and females sing.
This bird is commonly found in woodland edges, swampy areas, thickets, and backyards. They are territorial during the breeding season and can often be seen attacking their reflection in shiny surfaces (i.e. automobile side mirrors) and sliding glass doors and windows. They become less territorial during the winter months when they can often be seen in groups. At this time it is not uncommon to see several males near one feeder or in one tree.
For a range map and additional information click here.
Click on the player below for examples of Northern Cardinal vocalizations.
Click here to download a free ringtone of the Northern Cardinal.