About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What are the different types of cardinal birds?

The only cardinal bird in Michigan is the Northern Cardinal. The term "Northern" in the common name refers to its range, because they are only found in the Northern Hemisphere. And the “Cardinal” name was derived from the vivid red plumage of the male, which resembles the robes of the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church.

But there are actually several birds in the world with the name Cardinal. Cardinalis is a genus of cardinal in the family Cardinalidae and there are three species ranging across North and South America. 

1. Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis 
2. Pyrrhuloxia (Desert Cardinal), Cardinalis sinuatus 
3. Vermilion Cardinal, Cardinalis phoeniceus 

Paroaria, the red-headed cardinals or cardinal-tanagers are not close to the Cardinalidae but are related to tanagers.
They all look similar to a skinny Northern Cardinal, with a pointier yellowish bill. Their heads have large amounts of bright red and short crests while their bodies are white below and dark grey to black above.

The six South American cardinals in the genus Paroaria are:

1. Red-crested Cardinal, Paroaria coronata
2. Red-cowled Cardinal, Paroaria dominicana
3. Red-capped Cardinal, Paroaria gularis
4. Masked Cardinal, Paroaria (gularis) nigrogenis
5. Crimson-fronted Cardinal, Paroaria baeri
6. Yellow-billed Cardinal, Paroaria capitata

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