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Northern Cardinal


Description 8-9" (20-23 cm). Male bright red with crest, black face, stout red bill. Female buff-brown tinged with red on crest, wings, and tail.

Voice Rich what-cheer, cheer, cheer; purty-purty-purty-purty or sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet. Also a metallic chip.

Habitat Woodland edges, thickets, brushy swamps, and gardens.

Nesting 3 or 4 pale green eggs, spotted with red-brown, in a deep cup of twigs, leaves, and plant fibers concealed in a thicket.

Range Resident in eastern United States and southern Canada (locally) south to Gulf Coast, and from southern California, Arizona, and southern Texas southward.

Discussion This species, named after the red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals, has extended its range northward into southern Canada in recent decades. Cardinals are aggressive birds that occupy territories year-round. Both sexes are accomplished songsters and may be heard at any time of year, rather than just in the spring when most other birds are singing. Seeds form a main part of the diet, although insects are eaten in the breeding season. These birds often come to feeders in winter.