|Male and Female Northern Cardinal|
Not all bird species have visible gender differences, but the Northern Cardinal is sexually dimorphic which means it is possible to determine which bird is male and female by plumage coloration.
Except for a black mask and throat, the male cardinals are red all over including their bill. The females are shaped like the male but are a duller brown color and have only warm red accents on the tips of their crest, wings and bill. The juvenile cardinals in the spring and summer look similar to the female except for the darker crest and bill. The duller coloring is better to camouflage nesting birds.
Cardinals as well as other red feathered birds get their red plumage from pigments called carotenoids. Birds can’t synthesize carontenoid pigments but must obtain them from wild fruit seeds, weed seeds and fresh bird seed.
The book also explains that the Northern Cardinal with its vivid red plumage, is a delightful year-round resident in mid-Michigan and prefers tangled shrubby bushes and evergreens in yards with feeders. They form faithful pair bonds, and will visit feeders together commonly in the early morning and evening. Both birds sing to one another throughout the seasons with soft, bubbly whistles and when forced to incubate her eggs in the spring the female keeps in contact with the male by singing on the nest, to inform her partner whether or not she and the young need food.
So if you see the bright red male cardinal, look and listen for the "chip, chip, chip" of the less conspicuous female cardinal.
What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/rAArXw
What are the different types of cardinal birds? http://bit.ly/v0IBhS
Northern Cardinal Fun Facts http://bit.ly/twE6NV
Cardinal Bird Feeders Made in the USA: http://bit.ly/qXJPFM
How to Attract Cardinals: http://bit.ly/pjh7mO
Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/uMSTs6