Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis




Cardinals & Piranga Tanagers (Cardinalidae)

Code 4


Code 6




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Least Concern

The Northern Cardinal has a large range, estimated globally at 5,800,000 square kilometers. Native to North America, Guatemala and Belize, and now found in the Cayman Islands and Honduras, this bird prefers wetland, forest and shrubland ecosystems, though it can live in former forests and urban areas. The global population of this bird is estimated at 100,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Northern Cardinal is Least Concern.


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Northern Cardinal: This large crested finch has a vivid red body. The black mask and chin contrast with a heavy red bill. Female is duller overall, with red wings and tail washed with gray, and smaller crest. Forages on the ground in trees and bushes. Feeds on seeds, grains, fruits, insects and snails. Hops instead of walking on the ground. Alternates rapid wing beats with wings pulled to sides.

Range and Habitat North America

Northern Cardinal: Native to the Nearctic region. Found throughout eastern and central North America from southern Canada into parts of Mexico and Central America. Introduced to California, Hawaii and Bermuda. Habitats include edges of woods, hedgerows, lowlands, suburban areas, swamps, streamside thickets, and vegetation around houses.

Range and Habitat Hawaii

Northern Cardinal: This species is a resident in southern Canada, the eastern United States, and its range extends south through much of Mexico. It is a naturalized resident in the Hawaii Islands. Its preferred habitats include forest edges, woodlands, lowlands, shrublands, swamps, and suburban areas.

Range and Habitat Palau

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  • The Northern Cardinal can live up to 15 years in the wild.
  • It is the state bird of seven states-Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. No other bird holds this distinction.
  • Males that have a brighter red color appear to feed at higher rates and have greater reproductive success than males that are duller in color.
  • A group of cardinals has many collective nouns, including a "college", "conclave", "deck", "radiance", and "Vatican" of cardinals.



About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.


About this Hawaii Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across the Hawaiian island.



Xeno-Canto Sound

Northern Cardinal LJ

  • Title: Northern Cardinal LJ
  • Recordist: Lynn Johnson
  • Description: Whistled song.
  • Location: IL
  • Date: "01/11/19"

Northern Cardinal C1

  • Title: Northern Cardinal C1
  • Recordist: Paul Marvin
  • Description: Typical song.
  • Location: TX
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Northern Cardinal B1

  • Title: Northern Cardinal B1
  • Recordist: Richard E Webster
  • Description: Song variation.
  • Location: AZ
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Northern Cardinal U1

  • Title: Northern Cardinal U1
  • Recordist: Ross Gallardy
  • Description: Typical call is a metallic "chip".
  • Location: HI
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Northern Cardinal U2

  • Title: Northern Cardinal U2
  • Recordist: Ross Gallardy
  • Description: Rapid, agitated chip notes from 2 males.
  • Location: HI
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Northern Cardinal U3

  • Title: Northern Cardinal U3
  • Recordist: Ross Gallardy
  • Description: Song is a series of "wheet-wheet-wheet-wheet" whistles followed by "wit wit wit" notes.
  • Location: HI
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Lang Elliott Sound

Northern Cardinal 5

  • Title: Northern Cardinal 5
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Variety of whistles and "Chur chur chur chur" notes.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: AZ

Northern Cardinal 6

  • Title: Northern Cardinal 6
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Pair song duet (female sings first).
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: MO

Northern Cardinal 8

  • Title: Northern Cardinal 8
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: "Tink" alarm calls.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: FL

Northern Cardinal 9

  • Title: Northern Cardinal 9
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Songs and calls of a courting pair.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: FL

Northern Cardinal 10

  • Title: Northern Cardinal 10
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Encounter calls.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: FL

Similar Sounding Xeno-Canto

Carolina Wren C3

  • Title: Carolina Wren C3
  • Recordist: Paul Marvin
  • Description: Typical "tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle" song.
  • Location: FL
  • Date: "July 19, 2016"

Tufted Titmouse A3

  • Title: Tufted Titmouse A3
  • Recordist: Andrew Spencer
  • Description: Typical song is a whistled "peter-peter-peter".
  • Location: AR
  • Date: "07/19/2016"

Similar Sounding Lang

Carolina Wren 1

  • Title: Carolina Wren 1
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Typical song, "tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle".
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: FL

Tufted Titmouse 1

  • Title: Tufted Titmouse 1
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: "Peter peter peter" song.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: OH

Similar Sounding Hawaii David Kuhn

Northern Mockingbird 3

  • Title: Northern Mockingbird 3
  • Recordist: David Kuhn
  • Description: Song is a series of musical and grating phrases.
  • Location: HI
  • Date: "6/16/2014"

Voice Text

"Whoit cheer, whoit cheer, cheer-cheer-cheer; cheer, whoit-whoit-whoit-whoit; wheat-wheat-wheat-wheat", "bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy"


Northern Cardinal: Sings a variety of gurgling and clear whistled melodies, with more than twenty-five different songs. Best-known phrases include "whoit cheer, whoit cheer, cheer-cheer-cheer", "cheer, whoit-whoit-whoit-whoit", "wheat-wheat-wheat-wheat", and "bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy." Female sings duets with male during courtship. Call is an abrasive metallic "chip" or "pik."





Michael Oberhofer

The area of the face just below the bill.
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X