The Beauty of the Brown Cardinal

Cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds in North America, and the brown cardinal is no exception. These lovely creatures can be found in woodlands and gardens throughout the eastern United States, and they are especially common in the southeastern states. Brown cardinals are easily recognizable by their rich chestnut plumage, and they are a delight to see perched atop a tree or singing from a high perch.

Female Cardinals: A Complete Guide

Female Cardinals: A Complete Guide

The female cardinal is a vibrant and striking bird. They are often seen perched atop branches or flitting around gardens, backyards, and parks. While the bright red coloring of male cardinals is quite well-known, female cardinals have their own unique beauty.

Female cardinals range in size from 7 to 9 inches long, with a wingspan of 10-12 inches. They are primarily brown and gray in color, this is why they often blend in with the background when perched. Male cardinals are usually brighter than females, but their voices are both loud and distinguishable.

Female cardinals love to eat seeds and insects, as well as berries and fruits. They are also fond of suet, which is a type of bird feed often used to attract different types of birds. It is important to provide female cardinals with plenty of food sources in order for them to stay healthy and active.

In the wild, female cardinals can live up to 10 years, while captive birds may live up to 20 years. They are monogamous birds and spend most of their life in pairs or small flocks. They build their nests high up in trees, usually near the trunk. Nests are made of twigs, leaves, and grasses that are weaved together with spider webs.

Female cardinals can be a wonderful addition to any backyard or garden. They are social, beautiful birds that will bring color and life to any outdoor area. If you’re looking for a bright and cheerful addition to your yard, the female cardinal may be just the bird for you!

What does a female Cardinal look like?

Female Cardinals are smaller than males and have light brown heads, wings, and tails that are streaked with grayish-brown. The body is a dull reddish-brown color and the bill is black. Female Cardinals also have a small crest of feathers on their head that can appear as either pale yellow or whitish in color. In flight, the female Cardinal will have a lower, more rounded profile than the male.

They are also less vocal than males and tend to stay closer to the ground in their foraging activities. Female Cardinals do not possess the brilliant red color of their male counterparts, but they still make a wonderful addition to any backyard birdwatching experience.

What other bird looks like a female cardinal?

What other bird looks like a female cardinal?

The Northern Cardinal is often mistaken for its close relative, the Pyrrhuloxia. The Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) is a medium-sized songbird that has a large crest and red-streaked wings and back. It also has an orange face and breast, with a black mask around its eyes.

The Pyrrhuloxia is found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, while the Northern Cardinal is found across North America.

Both birds have similar diets of seeds, fruits, and insects. However, their calls are easily distinguishable. The call of a Pyrrhuloxia consists of short phrases with two notes, while the Northern Cardinal has a more melodic call with longer phrases and more varied tones. Despite their differences, these two birds are often mistaken for each other.

To differentiate between them, observe the bird carefully and listen to its call. The Northern Cardinal is easy to recognize by its bright red color and crest, while the Pyrrhuloxia has a more muted tone and black mask. Both are beautiful birds that can be enjoyed in the wild!

Why are male cardinals brighter red than females?

Male cardinals are typically more brightly colored than females due to sexual selection. Male birds are often more brightly colored in order to attract a mate, while female birds are duller in color as their main purpose is to stay hidden from predators and care for the young.

The bright red of the male cardinal is used to signal its capabilities as a mate, while the female’s colors are used to blend in with her environment. Additionally, males may have a higher intake of carotenoid pigments which can give them their bright red coloring and make them stand out from other species.

This brighter coloration serves as an advertisement for potential mates and helps differentiate one species from another. Male cardinals also have an underlayer of yellow feathers, which can be seen when the light hits them just right. This bright yellow helps to create a more vibrant display of color and further emphasizes their brilliant red feathers.

Can a cardinal be both male and female?

Can a cardinal be both male and female?

No, cardinals are either male or female. Male cardinals have bright red plumage and black faces, while females have duller reddish-brown plumage and gray-brown faces. Both sexes of cardinal sport a prominent crest of feathers on the top of their head, which is usually raised when they are excited or alarmed.

Male cardinals also have a bright yellow bill, while female cardinals tend to have a slightly darker bill. However, both male and female cardinals possess the same remarkable singing ability. The song of the male cardinal is especially well-known and can often be heard in backyards across North America.

Behavioral differences between male and female cardinals

Can also be observed. Male cardinals tend to be more brightly colored and have a more prominent crest, while female cardinals are typically duller in color and may not have a crest. Additionally, male cardinals are known to sing more often than female cardinals and during mating season they will defend their territories aggressively.

Female cardinals will usually stay in a more confined area and focus on nesting or foraging activities. Both male and female cardinals are social birds, often found in pairs or small groups during the winter months. During mating season, males will perform courtship displays to attract female mates, such as flaring their wings out wide and singing elaborate songs.

The two sexes may also be observed engaging in cooperative behaviors such as preening, feeding each other, and helping to build nests. Cardinals have been known to mate for life; however, some pairs will break up if the female does not produce eggs or if one of the birds becomes too ill or injured.

Cardinals are an important species to many backyard habitats and offer a beautiful sight to birdwatchers. Knowing the differences between male and female cardinals can help people to better appreciate this species and learn more about their behavior. With proper protection, cardinals can be a valuable part of any backyard habitat or park for many years to come.


The American cardinal is a beautiful and unique bird, with several distinct differences between male and female cardinals. Both sexes are social birds and can be observed engaging in cooperative behaviors such as preening, feeding each other and helping to build nests.

By understanding the behavioral differences between male and female cardinals, people can better appreciate this species and ensure that they are protected for years to come. 

With proper protection, these magnificent birds will continue to be a part of our natural world for future generations to enjoy. 


Can a cardinal be brown?

Yes, some cardinals can have brown plumage. There is also a subspecies of cardinal known as the Pyrrhuloxia that has mostly grayish-brown feathers.

Why are some cardinals brown?

Some cardinals may be brown due to genetic mutations or environmental factors. Brown feathers can make them better camouflaged in certain habitats and provide protection from predators.
Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.