A Northern Cardinal in my backyard in northeast Iowa. USA
Image taken with my Canon PowerShot SX50 IS.

Northern Cardinal

The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off. Even the brown females sport a sharp crest and warm red accents. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they’re still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning.

Size & Shape
The Northern Cardinal is a fairly large, long-tailed songbird with a short, very thick bill and a prominent crest. Cardinals often sit with a hunched-over posture and with the tail pointed straight down.

Color Pattern
Male cardinals are brilliant red all over, with a reddish bill and black face immediately around the bill. Females are pale brown overall with warm reddish tinges in the wings, tail, and crest. They have the same black face and red-orange bill.

Northern Cardinals tend to sit low in shrubs and trees or forage on or near the ground, often in pairs. They are common at bird feeders but may be inconspicuous away from them, at least until you learn their loud, metallic chip note.

Look for Northern Cardinals in inhabited areas such as backyards, parks, woodlots, and shrubby forest edges. Northern Cardinals nest in dense tangles of shrubs and vines.


birds, cardinals

Hello! I am a wife, mother, worship leader and piano teacher. Photography is a new passion of mine. I also enjoy singing, playing the piano & flute, bicycling and the theatre! Thank you for all your kindness and support here. God bless you!

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  • Stephen Thomas
    Stephen Thomasover 1 year ago

    Great shot!

  • Thank you so much, Stephen!!

    – lorilee

  • barnsis
    barnsisover 1 year ago

    Brilliant color, awesome close up! He is all fluffed up from the cold.

  • Thank you, Byron & Julie!! Since the last snow fall we’ve had a couple of
    dozen cardinals come to the feeders each evening . . . a beautiful sight to see!!

    – lorilee

  • peaky40
    peaky40over 1 year ago

    Stunning capture and colour Lorilee, love this too!

  • Thanks, Roy!! You’re very kind!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • AuntDot
    AuntDotover 1 year ago

    Gorgeous capture!

  • Thank you so much, Dot!!

    – lorilee

  • maggie326
    maggie326over 1 year ago

    Great capture

  • Thank you, Maggie!!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • Jack Ryan
    Jack Ryanover 1 year ago

    Super color…they do brighten up those gray days. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks, Jack!!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • Sandra Fortier
    Sandra Fortierover 1 year ago

    Just beautiful!!!! Wonderful color and such a beautiful cardinal…great capture Lorilee.

  • Thank you so much, Sandra!!

    – lorilee

  • Rick  Friedle
    Rick Friedleover 1 year ago

    Great capture!

  • Thank you, Rick!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppover 1 year ago

    Nicely perched Lori

  • Thanks, Larry!!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • billfox256
    billfox256over 1 year ago

    A handsome rascal!!!! A terrific capture!!! Bill

  • Thank you so much, Bill!!

    – lorilee

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