Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus)

…a species of cardinal that occurs in Colombia and Venezuela. Vermilion cardinals typically inhabit subtropical or tropical dry shrublands and dense thorny thickets. Like other cardinals this species primarily on seeds, grains and the occasional insect.



Image: Felix Uribe

The Northern Cardinal: The more red, best mates

Assortative mating is well documented in birds. This mating pattern may occur by a variety of qualities, including ornamentation, size, age, social experience, color morph, body condition, parental behavior or hybrid status (just as in humans).

Well, the Northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis is a species with positive assortative mating based on ornamental characters, specifically based on red plumage expression. 

The species is a sexually dichromatic, multiply ornamented, socially monogamous passerine. Both sexes possess head crests and red-orange bill coloration. In addition, males have black face masks and entirely red body plumage, whereas females have blackish face masks and red underwing coverts.

However, a research found that Cardinals mate selectively only by plumage and bill color, but not by mask expression or crest length. Whether this mating pattern arises by mutual mate choice or intrasexual selection is not known.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Chet | Locality: Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, US (2007)

Mexican Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus)

…Also simply known as the Yellow Grosbeak, Pheucticus chrysopeplus is a species of “Cardinal” (Cardinalidae) that occurs on the Pacific slope of Mexico from central Sonora to northwestern Oaxaca and in southern Chiapas and Guatemala. Yellow Grosbeaks typically occur in trees in forest/edge woodlands and like other grosbeaks they feed almost exclusively on seeds, using their powerful beaks to crush them. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Passeriformes-Cardinalidae-Pheucticus-P. chrysopeplus

Image: Arjan Haverkamp


Piranga ludoviciana

I love tanagers (it goes along with my affinity for brightly-colored birds) — the wonderful thing about the western tanager is that we have them right here in Montana because of their large migration routes, so I can get my tropical bird fix without having to move to the jungle!  Although, while I was doing research for this post I did realize that the western tanager has recently been renamed to the family Cardinalidae, the cardinal family, for its similar beak shape, as well as the similarities between their vocalizations.  I suppose that means it’s due for a common-name change, since now referring to it as a tanager is a misnomer.  That doesn’t make their beautiful plumage any less radiant and intoxicating on these overcast rainy days.  I saw a few of them by the river this weekend, and someone donated a window kill earlier today, so I’ve got these little guys on the mind!

Painted Bunting

The Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris (Passeriformes - Cardinalidae), is a Near Threatened species native to North America. The male Painted Bunting is the most colorful and perhaps the gaudiest of all native North American passerines.

Passerina ciris occurs in two geographically disjunct populations: a western population breeding from northern Mexico to northern Texas, US, and wintering in south-west Mexico; and an eastern population breeding along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida (USA) and wintering in southern Florida and the Caribbean.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Roy Cohutta

Locality: Dauphin Island, Gulf of Mexico, Alabama, Southeast US

  • Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
  • Mike Nelson
  • xeno-canto

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

…while called a bunting, this species is actually more closely related to cardinals than to buntings in the family Emberizidae. Indigo buntings summer in the United States and Canada and will winter in Central America and the Caribbean. 

Sound/Image Source.