Red Gallery – Northern Cardinal

Red Gallery – Northern Cardinal


The adult male is a brilliant crimson red color with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color becomes duller and darker on the back and wings. The female is fawn, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks. The beak is cone-shaped and strong. Young birds, both male and female, show coloring similar to the adult female until the fall, when they molt and grow adult feathers.They are brown above and red-brown below, with brick-colored crest, forehead, wings, and tail. The legs and feet are a dark pink-brown. The iris of the eye is brown. The plumage color of the males is produced from carotenoid pigments in the diet.  Coloration is produced from both red pigments and yellow carotenoid pigments. Northern cardinal males normally metabolize carotenoid pigments to create plumage pigmentation of a color different from the ingested pigment. When fed only yellow pigments, males become a pale red color.


Photo Gallery



© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

16 thoughts on “Red Gallery – Northern Cardinal

  1. Bird search. Today i saw a small but chubby bird that i have never seen here in south Florida before. The chubby breast was a very pale yellowish and the feathers i could see on its back were either a pale brown or gray. I checked on-line and no site showed me one that was even close. Any clue?

      • That’s it!! Thanks, I knew you would know. I keep trying to memorize your posts, but maybe I’m too old to remember all your birds.
        Thanks again for the help!!

  2. You always have such beautiful Northern Cardinal photos. Do you have any suggestions for photographing cardinals? I find them really hard to photograph, they’re so skittish! You must have the magic touch, because all your cardinal shots are fantastic! 😁

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