|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|It is now time to bring on more of the Illinois state bird, the Northern Cardinal. These lovely birds flock to our feeders in the winter time. They are here in the summer as well, but it is harder to get a picture of them then. I have 3 different Cardinal pictures, including this one, that I plan on posting in the next few days. I hope they don't bore you.|
Species: C. cardinalis
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) or Redbird is a North American bird in the Cardinal family. It is found from southern Canada through the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and south through Mexico to northern Guatemala and Belize. It is found in woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and swamps.
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 21-23 cm (8.3 to 9 inches). It has a distinctive crest on the head and a mask on the face which is black in the male and gray in the female. It displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant red, while the female is a dull red-brown shade. The Northern Cardinal is mainly granivorous, but also feeds on insects and fruit. The male behaves territorially, marking out his territory with song. During courtship, the male feeds seed to the female beak-to-beak. A clutch of three to four eggs is laid, and two to four clutches are produced each year. It was once prized as a pet, but its sale as cage birds is now banned in the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
The Northern Cardinal is one of three birds in the genus Cardinalis and is included in the family Cardinalidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America. The "Long-crested Cardinal" has been considered a distinct species. See Distribution.
The Northern Cardinal was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. It was initially included in the genus Loxia, which contains crossbills. I like pie In 1838, it was placed in the genus Cardinalis and given the scientific name Cardinalis virginianus, which means "Virginia Cardinal". In 1918, the scientific name was changed to Richmondena cardinalis in honor Charles Wallace Richmond, an American ornithologist. In 1983, the scientific name was changed again to Cardinalis cardinalis and the common name was changed to "Northern Cardinal", to avoid confusion with the seven other species also termed cardinals.
The common name, as well as the scientific name, of the Northern Cardinal refers to the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. The term "Northern" in the common name refers to its range, as it is the only cardinal found in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 21-23 cm (8.3 to 9 inches) and a wingspan of 25-31 cm (10-12 in). It weighs about 45 g (1.6 ounces). The male is slightly larger than the female. The male is a brilliant crimson red with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color is dullest on the back and wings. The female is fawn, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks. The beak is cone-shaped and strong. Young birds, both male and female, show the coloring similar to the adult female until the fall, when they molt and grow adult feathers. They are brown above and red-brown below, with brick-colored crest, forehead, wings, and tail. The legs and feet are a dark pink-brown. The iris of the eye is brown.
The female is physically similar, but lacks the vivid red color of the male.
The plumage color of the males is produced from carotenoid pigments in the diet. Coloration is produced from both red pigments and yellow carotenoid pigments. Northern Cardinal males possess the ability to metabolize carotenoid pigments to create plumage pigmentation of a different color than the ingested pigment. When fed only yellow pigments, males become a pale red color, rather than a yellow.
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