There are some puzzling questions in life.
How were the pyramids built?
Exactly how old is the universe?
Is there life on other planets?
What color were the dinosaurs?
While these things remain a mystery, there is one puzzling dilemma that I can help you with…
The answer to the popularly asked question is there such a thing as a blue cardinal?
We know there are plenty of red cardinals and pale brown ones about, especially throughout the eastern United States, and parts of South America.
But are sightings of the elusive blue cardinal just a trick of the mind, mistaken identity for a similar bird, or in fact the real deal?
Well, there’s only one way to find out – so read on for the answer to this BIG question.
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Real or Not Real?
So, does the blue cardinal exist?
Now, that’s the question.
The short and simple answer is… NO!
Yeah, I know, this is a lame answer.
As awesome as a blue-colored cardinal sounds – the truth is that this cardinal doesn’t exist!
Yes, there have been plenty of rumored sightings but the fact remains that the cardinal bird is just that – a rumor.
There’ve also been sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, and of the Abdonmable Snowman. Some people are adamant both of these exist, but there’s no solid evidence to back this up.
Maybe you’re convinced that the birds perching on that nearby branch is the perfect blue cardinal specimen? – and if you want to believe that then sure, go ahead.
As amazing as the discovery of this new species of bird would be, chances are that the blue cardinal you’re pretty sure you’ve found is either a different species of bird or it’s just the light playing tricks on you.
I know this answer sucks – but alas, the blue-colored cardinal remains a myth.
Who knows, perhaps one day one will be found.
Until then we still have colorful red cardinals, not only are they pretty to look at, but they certainly brighten up the garden with their chirps and seed-pecking, so even though there aren’t any blue ones about, it’s not all bad.
A Trick of The Light
Light is influential in how we see the world around us.
And when it comes to feather colors it can become extra distorted.
So, when you combine feathers, angles, and lighting then that whiteish-colored cardinal may appear vividly blue.
It’s hard to get close enough to see the alleged blue cardinals’ feathers more closely before they fly off, so it’s easy to confuse this ‘new found’ species of bird with something else.
Chances are if you saw them an hour later, they would seem a different color entirely.
It’s easy to confuse one bird species for another – this is especially common with small birds, as they’re unlikely to stay still for long, and their colors and markings can be tricky to distinguish.
One bird often confused for a blue cardinal is the blue grosbeak.
Although they are a member of the Cardinalidae family and they share some similarities, such as their small size, and strong seed opening beaks, they are in fact different birds entirely.
Another bird that adds to the confusion is the blue jay – a member of the Corvidae, family, this small bird is native to eastern North America.
They look very similar to the red cardinal, as they both have head crests. Therefore, people often mistake a blue jay for a blue cardinal.
What Colors of Cardinal Are There?
If you live in North America then it’s likely that the northern cardinal’s a frequent flier to your yard.
So, what colors are these birds?
Well, you can easily spot a male cardinal as they’re bright red, with a colorful head crest, and black throat and face markings.
The female is a lot less colorful than the male (which is a common occurrence in the bird world) she has pale brown plumage with a red wash across the chest.
On rare occasions you might spot a yellow northern cardinal – no, you’re not going crazy, due to a genetic plumage variation called xanthochroism, these do actually exist.
Another unusual find is the white cardinal – this bird has a condition called leucism, which is caused by a lack of a melanin-producing enzyme.
If you like the sound of spotting one, then you’ll need to visit southwest America or northern Mexico.
Where Do Northern Cardinals Come From?
The Northern cardinal bird’s so popular that 7 American states have named it their official bird – now that’s impressive.
These states are as follows: Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio.
Cardinals may not come in a blue variation but that doesn’t mean they aren’t well-loved. These frequent visitors to many gardens, backyards, and parks are non-migratory birds.
This means that they’ve often made warmer climates their home, but over the last few decades there’s been a rise in winter birdfeeders, meaning you can now spot cardinals further north.
In The Know
Did you also know that the cardinal’s also known as the ‘redbird.’
This is unsurprising really, seeing as the males are so vibrantly red.
These perching songbirds certainly cheer the area up with their chirpy tunes and colorful red plumage.
Are Cardinals’ Lucky Charms?
Which is especially handy if you live in an area where they’re greatly populated.
Seeing a cardinal’s believed to bring you a spout of good luck that will happen within 12 days of seeing them.
They’re believed to have a connection to a passed loved one – when they show up in your garden, they’re a sign that you’re being thought about by this person.
With a name derived from the word ‘cardo,’ which is Latin for ‘hinge,’ it’s no wonder they’re regarded as spiritual messengers – delivering messages between this world and the spirit realm.
There’s A Cardinal in My Yard
Relax, as your new garden friend is a welcome one.
Cardinals represent devotion, courtship, monogamy, and a sign that a passed loved one is thinking about you. They are also seen as a symbol of balance, and are strongly linked to families and nurturing.
Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the fact still remains that having a yard full of cardinals is positive, as these little birds are pretty darn awesome.
Fun Facts About Cardinals
Okay, so the blue cardinal doesn’t exist – bummer!
I’m not some crazy scientist, so there’s not much I can do to change this – sorry!
But there are plenty of mind-blowing fun facts about cardinals I can share with you.
They might not be blue but this doesn’t change the fact that these fascinating birds are still pretty impressive.
They have monogamous relationships
Yep, when the male cardinal finds his mate, he becomes devoted to her.
They build their nest together and may even remain together for the rest of the year.
Although they don’t necessarily mate for life, cardinals are loving birds who care for their young and become doting parents.
They are territorial
They may be on the small side but they know how to defend themselves.
If they feel threatened, they won’t hesitate in retaliating. The males are especially territorial and don’t take kindly to other male cardinals trespassing on their turf.
They often mistake their reflection in windows and patio doors for fellow birds – sometimes they’ll bash into the glass in their confusion – ouch!
The female sings for her supper
These feathered friends form such a strong bond, that all the female has to do is sing a song and her mate will bring her food.
This is extra useful when she’s on nest duty – a sunflower seed, please!
The Blue Cardinal – The Lowdown
Yeah, okay, so it sucks that a blue feathered cardinal isn’t legit.
I don’t like this fact any more than you do.
This aside, northern cardinals aren’t going anywhere.
From good luck charms to symbols of hope, these small feathered friends bring joy to many gardens and suburban areas.
Who knows, maybe one day a blue cardinal will be found – but until then there are plenty of other chirpy and cheerful cardinal birds about to watch.