Cardinal Facts

picture of a Male Cardinal

Their bright red feathers make the male Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) one of the most distinctive bird species in the United States.

Cardinals belong to the family Cardinalidae, which also includes Grosbeaks, Buntings. The genus Cardinalis also contains Pyrrhuloxia, and conceivably their less colorful feathers could be mistaken for a female cardinal in areas where the species overlap.

Many Cardinalidae species, including the Cardinal, have colorful feathers and large beaks for their food of choice, seeds. When available they also eat insects and fruit.

With the exception of a small presence in the Southwest, the Cardinal's range is limited to areas east of the Rocky Mountains, where they tend to establish a year round residence in a specific territory.

Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia named the Cardinal their official state bird, making it the most popular state bird in the United States.

© 2010 Patricia A. Michaels