Mystery Bird: Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis

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[Mystery bird] Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, photographed at 40 Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 28 February 2007 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/50s f/8.0 at 500.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.


Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
The huge bill, long crest, and lavish tail put us onto the cardinal grosbeaks right away. Of the two Cardinalis species expected in Texas, Pyrrhuloxia shows a short, heavily curved, dark or yellowish bill; its lore is also red. Northern Cardinal’s bill is huge and triangular, the classic “gros” beak, and its bill is outlined by a more or less extensive black area. Clearly, this is a Northern Cardinal, and the bird’s largely gray-brown body plumage identify it as a female.
Review all mystery birds to date.

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Mystery Bird: Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis

  1. Bob O'H says:

    Well, it’s Thanksgiving over there. So that must be a turkey.

  2. Female Northern Cardinal. The pink beak helps distinguish her from a Pyrrhuluxia.

  3. The Ridger says:

    Must be a cardinal. I’m not sure if it’s a female or a winter-coated male – probably the former though she seems a bit red. Marks – crest, pink bill, black face.

  4. BobbyEarle says:

    Fall Butterball.
    Identifying marks: Date on calendar.
    Have a safe Thanksgiving!

  5. bioephemera says:

    That’s a really lovely photo – the colors are so harmonious.