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Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
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): Red Birds [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-03-06 6:10
Viewed: 24007
Points: 16
[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.

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) 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.[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.[10] 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.

nglen, tuslaw, Noisette, CeltickRanger, Argus has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

hello Bob
great colours
beautiful composition
great shot
greeting lou

Hello Bob,
I wish we have this beautiful bird here with amazing red colours.
The picture is well composed with a good POV and fine pose of the bird. The bird looks a bit but it could be the red colour,
red is a difficult colour to get right in a digital camera.
Well done.
Have a nice weekend.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2009-03-06 10:47]

Hi Bob. Firstly you have interesting notes so thanks for that. This is a bright picture of the Red Northern cardinal. Which you have taken with good detail and a nice posewith its head turned to one side. Well done TFS.

Have a good weekend..

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-03-06 11:00]

Hello Bob,
Beautiful photo in very clear colours. Good sharpness and a nice pose, POV and composition.
Have a good weekend,

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-03-06 14:54]

Very nice photo of our OHIO State bird Bob,
Love the pose and gorgeous colors in this Cardinal's plumage.
Well done!! Great notes!
I tried all last year to get a good shot of a cardinal, but the only one I got was from Tennessee and it's plumage was in terrible shape so I didn't post it.
Is that by chance a Sweetgum Tree branch it's perched on?

Hello Bob
a nice shot of this red cardinal in a very nice pose
great composition, colors and details
have a nix WE

hello Bob

excellent photography of this beautiful red bird,
shot with fine frontal POV, excellent sharpness and details,
beautiful eye-contact with you, TFS


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-03-06 22:10]

Hello Bob,
A fine capture of this popular bird. The Northern Cardinal has been seen many times on TN, but by most of us Europeans never in real life and that includes me.
This is a striking species, the red of the male almost hitting one in the eye, as in this photo. I like the pose and POV in this almost full-frame image and though slightly soft in parts it ia a fine portrait of this species.
Thanks and have a good weekend,

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