Bird’s ID – Red-crested Cardinal

Red-crested Cardinal


The Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) is a songbird with a prominent red head and crest. This species belongs in the family of the tanagers (Thraupidae). Not withstanding its similar name, this bird is not closely related to the true cardinal family (Cardinalidae).

It is found in northern Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul and the Pantanal. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and heavily degraded former forest. Among other regions, it is found in southern part of the Pantanal.

It has also been introduced to Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In Brazil, it has been introduced to various places outside its historical range, as in the Tietê Ecological Park in São Paulo, alongside its very similar-looking close relative, the red-cowled cardinal (P. dominicana).

The yellow-billed cardinal (P. capitata) could be easily confused with the red-crested cardinal; both the red-cowled and yellow-billed have a very short crest that is not visible except in excited birds, and in the case of the latter, a black throat, darker upper parts and a bright yellow bill. Note: One Red-crested Cardinal, landed on my backyard a few years ago, the bird was in good health but very far away from where they usually reside. I called Audubon Society to report it but they just told me, most likely was brought by someone as a pet and has escaped. That was it. Then asked me if I want to make a donation… I believe I  answered: Donation for what? before ending the conversation.


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© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

18 thoughts on “Bird’s ID – Red-crested Cardinal

  1. How lucky that you got to see this bird at home. H.J. Escaped or not, what a surprise to look outside and find a tropical bird in your yard. Were you already familiar with the species then, or did you have to look it up?

    • I had seen it and photographed in South America before. That’s why I knew this bird didn’t belong in Georgia and called Audubon Soc. Thanks Tanja. 🙂

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