Avian Expert Articles

The Desert Cardinal: Beauty In the Desert

Female desert cardinal

We live in a unique world. Not only are we unique as humans, our companions on this Earth are also unique, and uniquely varied. You can take many types of birds and find something incredibly different about them in another part of the world.

Already, we enjoy a fascination with the brightly colored Cardinal. There are multiple differences from many of the Cardinal species, but the best know is the red-colored male and the green-colored female. But there are two other, lesser known, but very distinct Cardinals from the same genus known as Cardinalis. One is the Vermilion Cardinal, who is found in the warmer climes of South America, primarily Colombia and Venezuela. The other is the Desert Cardinal, which we’ll spend time with in this article.

Where Desert Cardinals Live

The Desert Cardinal (C. sinuatus) dwells in the more arid parts of North America. Primarily, they are found in the southern regions of Arizona, the south reaches of New Mexico, and in parts of Texas. They have even been spotted in parts of Mexico. Like their cousins, they are songbirds. With song, they defend their territories, and lure potential mates. Once mated, they typically stay attached for their life span. They are considered outside the range of danger in terms of extreme lessening of their overall population. However, a decline in population is occurring due to habitat changes that often seem to be a culprit in many severely endangered species reductions.

Male desert cardinal

The Look Of Desert Cardinals

As with their more common Northern Cardinal counterpart, the male and female differ in color. The male is a gray-colored bird with a distinct reddish chest and red splotches within his wings. The red also climbs onto the face regions, appearing as a mask and surrounding his crooked beak. This is in contrast to the Northern Cardinal, whose beak is not crooked. The female Desert Cardinal is often gray-colored with splotches of other colors found, but still maintaining a fundamental difference in appearance to the female Northern Cardinal. As a species, they are beautiful to note as two distinct parts of the same bird.

Of particular interest is the crest of the bird. It’s intrinsically what makes them stand out, quickly catching the eye of bird fans. For the Desert Cardinal, the crest stands up like its counterparts within the genus, but carries it to a higher point.

Desert Cardinal Eating Habits

Cardinals are generally ground foragers. The seeds they take to most readily are those found in plants and grains, making them granivorous in nature. If you plant or seed with intent to draw specific birds to your view, then it helps to recognize that these Cardinals are particular in their diet. With the addition of some insects, they are right at home.

Striking To Behold

As in many species of creatures, the Desert Cardinal is not immune to albinism. And because of that rare deficiency, the White Desert Cardinal is especially striking in appearance. They typically offset their white bodies with red in their wings and crest.

The Desert Cardinal is a gorgeous bird to draw to your attention and, ultimately, your viewing pleasure if you live within the borders of their natural habitat. It would be unfair to them to let the “stunning in their own right” Northern Cardinal have all the appreciative attention.

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