The White Cardinal: Everything You Need to Know

The white cardinal is one of the most beautiful and unique birds in North America. With its bright white feathers and distinct red crest, this bird is a sight to behold. While they are not as common as some other species of cardinals, they can be found in a variety of habitats across the continent. Here’s everything you need to know about the white cardinal.


The most striking feature of the white cardinal is its bright white feathers. This species has a reddish-orange crest and black eyes, bill, and feet. The male’s wingspan can reach up to 8 inches while the female can have a wingspan of 6 inches. White cardinals are often mistaken for all-white albinos, but they are actually leucistic (having reduced pigmentation).

Habitat and Range

White cardinals can be found across most of the United States and parts of Canada. They prefer wooded habitats with plenty of trees for nesting and foraging. These birds can also be found in parks and suburban backyards.


The white cardinal’s primary diet consists of seeds and grains, but they will also feed on fruits, insects, and occasionally small rodents or reptiles. They often forage in trees and shrubs, as well as on the ground. These birds are also known to visit bird feeders.

Breeding and Nesting

White cardinals typically breed in the spring and summer months. The female will build a nest of twigs, weeds, grasses, and other materials on the ground or low bushes. Females lay two to five eggs which are incubated for nearly two weeks before hatching. Once hatched, both parents take part in feeding and caring for the chicks.

Conservation Status and Threats

The white cardinal is not considered a vulnerable or endangered species, although its numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss and climate change. Conservation efforts are now focused on protecting existing habitats and restoring lost ones.

White cardinals also face other threats such as collisions with windows and other obstacles, as well as predation from cats and other animals.

Cardinals are beneficial for the garden

Bright blue cardinals can be a beautiful addition to any garden. Not only do these birds bring a burst of color to the yard, but they are also incredibly beneficial for the garden. Cardinals feed on insects and weed seeds, thus keeping pesky bugs and weeds at bay.

As if this wasn’t enough, cardinals will bury seeds in the ground — which helps spread different species of plants like shrubs and wildflowers across the yard. By providing food and shelter for these blue beauties, you can ensure your outdoor area is filled with attractive birds that bring life to your garden.

Here are 10 amazing white cardinals

1. Leucistic House Finch

Leucistic House Finch

The Leucistic House Finch is a species of the famous White Cardinal. These birds are rarely seen and even fewer photographs exist of them in the wild. The Leucistic House Finch is an albino, meaning it lacks melanin pigmentation throughout its body.

This makes for an impressive sight as their feathers appear almost entirely white with a creamy-yellow hue. This ivory-white plumage stands out against the bright colors of other cardinals and makes them very easy to spot in a crowd.

The Leucistic House Finch is found mostly in western North America. They have been seen in Canada, the United States, and parts of Mexico. In recent years they have also started to appear further east. This species of bird mainly inhabits open woodlands and fields but can sometimes be found near other bodies of water.

The Leucistic House Finch is a medium-sized bird and measures between 6 to 7 inches in length. They have noticeably large heads with a small black beaks. Their eyes are dark brown and their legs are zebra-striped. They also have distinctive white barring on the wings and tail feathers that can easily be seen from a distance.

The Leucistic House Finch is an omnivore and feeds on a variety of insects, fruits, and grains. They use their small beaks to pick up food from the ground or from nearby tree branches. They also forage in flocks with other cardinals and can even form mixed flocks with other species of birds.

2. Leucistic Cardinal

Just as rare and beautiful as the albino cardinal, the leucistic cardinal is a lovely sight to behold. Leucism is a condition that results in the partial loss of pigmentation in an animal’s skin, feathers, or fur.

In cardinals, this means white feathers with red patches on the wings and tail. Although some leucistic cardinals may have the same pink eyes as albino cardinals, others may have darker eyes.

The leucistic cardinal is found throughout North America, but it is even rare than the albino cardinal. Consequently, it is a very special bird to spot in the wild and one that will most definitely draw attention.

3. Leucistic Hummingbirds

Leucistic Hummingbirds

Leucistic hummingbirds are so rare, they intrigue birders and photographers alike. White cardinals often have a leucistic gene in which the pigment of feathers is reduced to create an overall white or pale color.

The most common species with this gene are Anna’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

It is interesting to note that leucism can also occur in other species, such as owls, hawks, and even eagles. For example, a great horned owl was spotted near Salt Lake City with white plumage instead of its usual grey and brown plumage.

In the case of hummingbirds, leucistic birds have a whitewash that goes over the usual coloration of their feathers and often has light or yellow eyes compared to their dark-eyed peers. These rare birds are fascinating since they show unique features that differ from typical hummingbirds. 

When it comes to White Cardinals, the mutation is usually hereditary and passed down from their parents. This makes them even more special since you will rarely ever see two white cardinals together in the wild. 

The most common way to spot a white cardinal is by keeping an eye out for its unique coloring. White cardinals have all-white feathers and can often be mistaken for snow buntings or doves because of their size and color.

4. Leucistic Grosbeak

The white cardinal is not the only bird that can appear with white feathers. Leucistic Grosbeak, a species of songbird in the Cardinalidae family, also sometimes shows up with white plumage. This type of grosbeak typically has grayish-white wings, breast, and head feathers, while its back and tail feathers remain black.

A leucistic grosbeak has a white bill, eyes, and legs. Leucism is the partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, or feathers but not the eyes.

The two types of white birds (the albino and leucistic varieties) may be confused with each other, but there are distinguishing characteristics. While an albino bird has pink eyes, bill, and feet, a leucistic bird’s eyes are black or dark gray, its bill is white to grayish white and its legs are usually the same color as its body feathers.

Leucistic birds also tend to have a grayish-white tinge to their feathers rather than the pure white of albinos.

Leucism is not an uncommon occurrence in nature, but it can be more pronounced in some species than others. Although leucism is most commonly seen as white plumage, it can also manifestk as grey, yellow or pale coloration. Leucism is not genetic; rather it is caused by a lack of melanin production in the body and may be linked to environmental factors such as diet, toxins, and ultraviolet radiation. 

The leucistic Grosbeak is native to South America and can be found in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. They tend to inhabit forests or woodlands near rivers and streams. Like their relatives the Cardinals they feed on a variety of seeds and fruits.

5. Leucistic American Robin

Leucistic American Robin

The American Robin is a migratory bird that can usually be seen in the northern and eastern parts of North America. While most of these birds have a traditional brownish-gray coloration, some rare individuals exhibit leucism (which results in white plumage instead). These “Leucistic American Robins” are considered to be very rare and are cherished by birdwatchers.

The Leucistic American Robin looks very similar to the White Cardinal, with the only difference being its size. The Leucistic American Robin is approximately 25% smaller than the White Cardinal and has no white markings on its wings or tail feathers. However, both birds have striking white plumage and can be confused in the field.

The Leucistic American Robin is not as common as the White Cardinal and is usually found alone. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including woodlands, shrublands, and open fields.

Though they are not often seen, these birds are considered to be very special by bird watchers. If you are lucky enough to spot one of these rare birds, remember that it is important to observe from a distance, as they can become easily disturbed if approached too closely.

6. White Goldfinch

The White Goldfinch (Carduelis albicollis) is a medium-sized bird that is part of the finch family. It has a white body with yellowish and brown markings, as well as white wing bars. Its habitat ranges from open woodlands to rural areas, though it can also be found in parks and gardens. It is a very vocal species and its songs often include wheezy trills.

The White Goldfinch feeds mainly on seeds, as well as some insects. Its diet consists mostly of weed and grass seed, with the odd insect thrown in. They are also known to feed on wild dandelions, thistle, and other nectar-producing plants.

They have a monogamous mating system and usually form lifelong pairs, though this is not always the case. The female builds the nest in a bush or tree during the breeding season, which generally takes place from April to May. During this time, both parents take turns feeding and caring for the young chicks until they are able to fly on their own.

In terms of conservation, the White Goldfinch is considered a species of “Least Concern” due to its wide range and stable population. However, it has been found that in some areas – such as Spain and Portugal – populations have decreased due to habitat loss or destruction caused by human activity.

As such, it is important to protect its remaining habitats and ensure that the population does not decline further.

7. Leucistic Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Leucistic Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

The Leucistic Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a unique species of North American bird, native to the eastern half of the continent. It has an unmistakable black and white plumage, with a bright pink chest. They are often mistaken for White Cardinals because of their similar coloring, however, the two are not related.

The Leucistic Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a medium-sized bird, with an average length of 6.5 to 7.5 inches (16-19 cm). Their wingspan reaches up to 12 inches (30 cm), making them larger than most other members of their family. They are also much more brightly colored than their relatives, with blackheads, white wings, and bright pink breasts.

The Leucistic Rose-breasted Grosbeak is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of seeds, fruits, and insects. As an opportunistic feeder, it may also be seen foraging in human-altered habitats such as bird feeders, gardens, and parks.

The Leucistic Rose-breasted Grosbeak is usually seen alone or in pairs during the warmer months of spring and summer. During these times, they are often heard singing their melodious song from treetops or open fields. While they are not very vocal during the colder months, their presence can still be detected by their stunningly pink color.

In terms of conservation efforts, Leucistic Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have a secure status in North America. There is an estimated population of roughly 2 million birds and numbers seem to be increasing mainly due to successful conservation efforts.

8. Leucistic Common Redpolls

While the White Cardinal is a rare occurrence, there are some instances of Leucistic Common Redpolls. Common Redpolls are small songbirds native to northern regions of North America and Eurasia. They have bright red markings on their heads and chest, black wings with white bars, white rumps, and a yellow bill.

Leucistic Common Redpolls are similar to the White Cardinal, but they lack the vibrant red plumage, and instead, their feathers are a dull gray-white.

They can be found in areas inhabited by normal Common Redpolls, though these birds tend to be timider than their colorful counterparts. Interestingly, some Leucistic Common Redpolls have been seen with red feathers in some areas, which suggests they may be hybrids of the two species.

9. Leucistic Junco

 Leucistic Junco

The Leucistic Junco is a unique bird that looks like a White Cardinal, but with a few subtle differences. A Leucistic Junco has a white or pale greyish-white head, back, and wings, and reddish accents on its chest and tail feathers. It has black eyes, legs, and beak that sets it apart from White Cardinals.

The plumage of the Leucistic Junco does not change seasonally, allowing for easy identification all year round. This beautiful bird is an intriguing sight to behold in nature, with its white feathering standing out against the snowscape in winter months and greenery during summer.

10. White Blue Jay

The White Blue Jay is an extremely rare species of bird, a true sight to behold. This beautiful bird has mostly white plumage and its primary flight feathers are a rich blue color. It is often mistaken for the White Cardinal, its counterpart in the same species, although their wings are quite different in color and pattern.

The White Blue Jay is not only a joy to watch soaring through the sky but also it can be heard from miles away with its loud vocalizations that rival even those of other birds in the region. As such, this unique White Blue Jay is definitely something you don’t want to miss out on if you ever have the chance to observe one.


The white cardinal is a magnificent bird, and it has become an important symbol in many cultures. It stands out from its cousins with its striking white feathers, making them easier to spot among the green foliage. While much of their population is stable, some populations are declining due to habitat destruction, climate change, and other factors. 

The white cardinal can offer us an important lesson about the importance of conservation, as well as our responsibility to protect and preserve nature. We must do all we can to ensure that this beautiful bird remains a part of our world for generations to come.

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.