About The Cardinal

The cardinal is popular for being a state bird in seven U.S. states. It is the only red bird with a crest on its head in the U.S. The states that have adopted this territorial songbird are Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Back in the 1800s, the cardinals were then known as cage birds. They were distributed in northern states as well as Europe until the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918.

This bird belonging to the passerine family is commonly seen during the winter at bird feeders mostly in the northeastern part. It is mostly found in North and South America. During the 1830s, the cardinals were discovered in the southern and central regions of the U.S. before they expanded into northern Ohio.

The cardinal is smaller than a robin and is medium in size measuring between eight to nine inches and weighing more than one ounce. The male can be distinguished by its brilliant red color while the female is usually tan. Cardinals have large crests on their heads with strong, red bills. Unlike the adult birds, the bills of young cardinals are blackish in color. The young shed off their feathers during the fall but will gain back their adult plumage by winter time. They also have a short lifespan of only one year or even less just like most wildlife species.

Cardinalidae is the cardinal’s scientific name. The bird’s family is named for their red plumage which is similar to the vestment of a Catholic cardinal. This is especially true for the male species known as the northern cardinal.

Cardinals abound in all southern states as well as in the Florida peninsula. In the western part of the U.S., they can be found in Ohio, Cincinnati, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. They are also present in the maritime areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some have been spotted in New York and Massachusetts. In Canada, they are a year-round resident in southern Ontario and Nova Scotia while they can be seen in South America from Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras. The songbird was introduced in Hawaii in 1929 and is now an established resident there.

The cardinal is known for being a songbird. Both the male and female are great singers they can sing so loud you can hear them from a distance. Their songs are made up of short and clear whistles such as “cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what” or “who-it, who-it, who-it” or “birdy, birdy, birdy.”

Over the last 200 years, the cardinal’s population has increased mainly due to the change in habitat carried out by people. The birds have enjoyed living in urban locations simulating a park and have benefited from bird feeders from people’s backyards. In the state of California, though, the cardinal is considered a bird of special concern because of the dwindling of their habitats.

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