Northern Cardinal

(Cardinalis cardinalis)

Conservation Status
Northern Cardinal
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


This is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.




7½ to 9¼ in length

12 wingspan




The song of both males and females is a series of clear, bubbly notes that have been describes as woit, woit, woit, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew or pichew, pichew, tiw, tiw, tiw, tiw, tiw (Sibley); and cheer, cheer, cheer or birdie, birdie, birdie (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). It is a learned song and varies by region.

In the spring a male seeking to attract a female gives an inspiring vocal performance that must be listened to for several minutes to be fully appreciated. It begins with a series of just three to six notes; woit, woit, chew, chew, chew. After a pause of few seconds the series is repeated, increasing the number of chew notes usually by just one. This continues for several minutes, each time the series increasing usually by just a single note. The series will often get to 18 to 20 chew notes. One series I counted reached 24. You do not have to be a female Northern Cardinal to be impressed by such a performance.


Similar Species


Thickets and shrubs along woodland edges, parks, suburban back yards
















Common year-round resident




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Passeriformes (perching birds)  


Cardinalidae (cardinals and allies)  


Cardinalis (typical cardinals)  

The genus Piranga was formerly placed in the tanager family Thraupidae. Mitochondrial DNA data from several studies between 1997 and 2007 show that the genus is more closely related to cardinals (family Cardinalidae).


Subordinate Taxa


Arizona Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis superbus)

Cozumel Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis saturatus)

Eastern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis cardinalis)

Florida Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis floridanus)

Gray-tailed Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis canicaudus)

Isla Cerralvo Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis clintoni)

Isla Tiburón Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis townsendi)

Long-crested Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis carneus)

Louisiana Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis magnirostris)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis affinis)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis coccineus)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis flammiger)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis littoralis)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis phillipsi)

San Lucas Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis igneus)

Santa Gertrudis Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis seftoni)

Sinaloa Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis sinaloensis)

Tres Marías Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis mariae)

Yucatan Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis yucatanicus)















Visitor Photos

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Gregory Gilman


Female Cardinal

  Northern Cardinal  

Male Red Cardinal

  Northern Cardinal  

Ramona Abrego


Male and Female

    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  
    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  

Gerry Garcia

    Northern Cardinal      

Wayne Rasmussen

    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  

Cardinals are ever present in Maplewood Hts Park in Ramsey County, but difficult to photograph

  Northern Cardinal  
    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  

Margot Avey

    Northern Cardinal      

Richard Thrasher


male cardnial at feeder

    Northern Cardinal      

Tom Baker

    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  
    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  


    Northern Cardinal      

Juvenile Male

    Northern Cardinal      


    Northern Cardinal   Northern Cardinal  




  Northern Cardinal
JMC Nature Photos
  Northern Cardinal  
  Northern Cardinal
Craig A. Mullenbach
  Northern Cardinal  
  Birding by Ear: Northern Cardinal Song

Uploaded on May 24, 2010

Macaulay Library Curator, Greg Budney, talks about the brilliant song of the Northern Cardinal.

Learn more about the Northern Cardinal on All About Birds:

  Northern Cardinal 2008

Uploaded on Feb 23, 2009

A serious contender for the title of "Most Brilliant Backyard Bird," the Northern Cardinal is on just about everyone's list of favorite birds.




Visitor Videos

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Avi Birds

  Northern Cardinal / Redbird / Common Cardinal / Red Cardinal / Cardinal [Cardinalis Cardinalis]
Dec 26, 2022

In this video, we learn about the northern cardinal.

Other Videos
  Northern Cardinal Portrait

Published on Dec 13, 2012

The Northern Cardinal is common in eastern United States and just enters southeastern Canada. It is the state bird for Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It is found in thickets, suburban areas, gardens and at feeders. As this video show, although the Cardinal is a beautiful bird it also has an ugly side. When it's moulting it's pretty revolting. It looks very prehiistoric, like something right out of Jurassic Park..

It is crested with a stout red bill. The male is red overall with a black face. The female is buffy-brown or buffy-olive overall with red in its wings, tail, and crest.

These birds are nonmigratory. They add color and sound to a winter scene.

Both sexes sing throughout the year giving such short whistles as "purty purty purty" and a sharp metallic "chink" call.

  HD Northern cardinals feeding baby birds 1080

Uploaded on Jun 9, 2011

Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) bird parents feeding bugs to chicks and cleaning up the poop to keep the nest clean

  Northern Cardinal - HD Mini-Documentary
James Knott

Uploaded on Feb 6, 2009

Mini-documentary about the Northern Cardinal. It's song look and habitat.

Transcription: "With a crested head, black mask around its eyes and brilliant red body, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most famous birds in North America.

It is a mid-sized songbird that lives in wooded areas and has a distinct orange beak shaped perfectly for eating seeds which make up the majority of its diet.

The Northern Cardinal does not migrate. It is a year-round resident whose range extends from southern Canada to Mexico on the eastern half of the continent.

The plumage of the males feathers is much brighter and more vibrant than that of the females it is trying to attract.

It learns its song, so the tune of the cardinal will vary by region.

This beautiful bird is named after the cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church who wore red robes and caps.

It is the state bird in seven states - North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia."

  Northern Cardinal Singing Close-up Finale with Thunderstorm in HD

Uploaded on Mar 27, 2011

Uploaded on Mar 27, 2011

Northern Cardinal Singing Close-up Finale with Thunderstorm in HD

Back to my channel:

Good Morning America WAKE UP!

Early morning song by Northern Cardinal and finale with the Thunderstorm.

Filmed by my35Xvision on 3/26 and 3/23 2011.

Northern Cardinal

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  Sounds of Spring Northern Cardinal Courtship
Brandy Doyker

Published on Apr 15, 2013

While the female has softer side...both male and female sing songs of courtship...during this time the male is seen feeding the female...his way of demonstrating he's the one...good provider of food...both female and male feed the dense shrubs...she builds the's quite romantic...♥




Visitor Sightings

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  Ramona Abrego

Location: Washington County

Male and Female

Northern Cardinal  
  Gerry Garcia

Location: West Bloomington


Northern Cardinal  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Ramsey

Northern Cardinal  
  Margot Avey

Location: Lake Harriet Gardens, Minneapolis MN

Northern Cardinal  


Location: Green Isle, MN

male cardnial at feeder

Northern Cardinal  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

Northern Cardinal  
  Gregory Gilman

Location: Rochester, MN

Male Red Cardinal

Northern Cardinal  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

Cardinals are ever present in Maplewood Hts Park in Ramsey County, but difficult to photograph

Northern Cardinal  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

Northern Cardinal  
  Gregory Gilman

Location: Rochester, MN

Female Cardinal

Northern Cardinal  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

Northern Cardinal  

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Beaver Creek Valley State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Boot Lake SNA

Buck Family Memorial WMA

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Bur Oak WMA

Cambria WMA

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Maplewood Heights Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McKnight Prairie

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Long Meadow Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Ney Nature Center

North Fork Zumbro Woods SNA

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Ottawa Bluffs

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Sibley State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Tamarack Nature Center

Terrace Oaks West

Thompson County Park

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Valley View Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Woodland Trails Regional Park







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