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Northern Cardinal (Female)

Northern Cardinal (Female)
Photo Information
Copyright: Bob Williams (bikefifty) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 24 W: 0 N: 158] (596)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-02-22
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon Rebel XTi, Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 II
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): CeltickRanger's favorite Bird photos -3- [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-02-24 4:15
Viewed: 4530
Points: 16
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
We have had as many as 11 Cardinals at our feeder at one time this year. Certainly the male is brighter and more easily seen against the white snow, but the female had a nice soft reddish color and is lovely in her own right. They live around here all year, but much easier to photograph in the winter.

From Wikipedia:

Northern Cardinal

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 (Cardinalis cardinalis) 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.[2] It was initially included in the genus Loxia, which contains crossbills. 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.[8] 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.[9] They are brown above and red-brown below, with brick-colored crest, forehead, wings, and tail.[4] 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.[11] 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.

Enjoy - Bob

Miss_Piggy, tuslaw, Heaven, Taralee, jaycee, CeltickRanger has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hallo Bob
Beautiful female captured in great full frontal pose. I like the two shades of beige on the chest and especially the red in the crest. Great display of light in the eye and great colour of the biggish beak. I also like the full display in the frame. It makes the subject clear to observe and pleasant to look at. Very interesting and detailed note. Thanks for contribution. It was a pleasure to look at.
Best regards

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-02-24 5:14]

Hello Bob,
How fitting to see Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal as neighbors. I love the good eye contact with that little sparkle. The focus and detail is spot on!! The colors are gorgeous and your DOF is excellent!! Great work!!!

Hi Bob!

You present us a beautiful wildlife picture. I like the pose of the bird very much and it offers us a good impression of the beauty of the bird. The low light conditions and the fact the picture was taken in the eveneing (or early in the morning) create a smooth and tender light and allow to reflect true and natural colours.

Kind regards


Lovely composition, excellent focus, lighting, DOF and colour are good.

hello Bob
beautiful picture
good composition
great sharpness
good colours
great shot
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-02-24 8:33]

Hello Bob,
Very beautiful close-up in great warm light and colours. Excellent sharp details, composition, POV and a very nice pose.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-02-24 10:14]

Hi Bob,

I'm so jealous of this wonderful shot of Lady Cardinal. They don't seem to stay in one spot for more than a few seconds. She is beautiful in a fine pose on the bare branches. Lovely natural colors and excellent details of her face and plumage.


hello Bob

very beautiful photography of Lady Northern Cardinal,
shot with fine frontal POV, fine vertical framing
with also leaving a very good space where the bird is looking,
beautiful warm luminosity coming on the bird,
excellent sharpness and details of the plumage,
beautiful catch-light at the eye, TFS


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2009-02-26 1:32]

I do like your Mrs Northern Cardinal Bob.
Good shot showing us her colours and feathers.
She looks very happy sitting there in teh sun
Well done

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