Cardinalis Cardinalis - Female Northern Cardinal | Center Moriches, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cardinalidae
Genus: Cardinalis
Species: C. cardinalis
Binomial name
Cardinalis cardinalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The northern cardinal is a territorial song bird. The male sings in a loud, clear whistle from the top of a tree or another high location to defend his territory. He will chase off other males entering his territory. He may mistake his image on various reflective surfaces as an invading male, and will fight his reflection relentlessly. The northern cardinal learns its songs, and as a result the songs vary regionally. Mated pairs often travel together.

Both sexes sing clear, whistled song patterns, which are repeated several times, then varied. Some common phrases are described as cheeeer-a-dote, cheeer-a-dote-dote-dote, purdy, purdy, purdy…whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, what-cheer, what-cheer… wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet and cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what, what The northern cardinal has a distinctive alarm call, a short metallic chip sound. This call often is given when predators approach the nest, in order to give warning to the female and nestlings. In some cases it will also utter a series of chipping notes. The frequency and volume of these notes increases as the threat becomes greater. This chipping noise is also used by a cardinal pair to locate each other, especially during dusk hours when visibility wanes. Read more

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