Male Northern Cardinal

T-96 Day 4 of 100 Days of Blogging

10 facts about the Cardinalidae family

Today’s post features the Bird Family of the week. 

Order: Passeriformes (perching birds)

Family: Cardinalidae

#1. The Cardinalidae Family includes 42 species in North America. Nine of these are found in the US with some in Canada. The remaining species occur in Mexico, central America, and South America.

Male Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

Male Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

#2. Seven species in this family are on the BPQ checklist, four breed here, the Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager and Indigo Bunting . The Summer Tanager, Western Tanger and Dickcissel are irregular visitors.

#3. This family of birds features species that are strongly sexually dimorphic, with  brightly  coloured males.

Brightly colored male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) feeding female in spring.

Brightly colored male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) feeding female in spring. 

#4. Females and immature males usually more dull and difficult to ID.


Immature male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) with pink wash on breast.


#5. Except for the Northern Cardinal, all of the breeding species are nocturnal Neotropical migrants.

Male Indigo Bunting (image credit G.Rasberry,wikimedia)

Male Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) (image credit G.Rasberry, Wikimedia)

#6. Cardinals and Grosbeaks are among the larger birds of the species within this family.

 #7. Genus Cardinalis have a prominent crest.


Female Northern Cardinal displaying crest

 #8 Social behavior: mainly solitary or in pairs but a few form flocks after breeding

 #9. In most species just the males sing, but the female Northern Cardinal is also known to sing while sitting on the nest.

#10. Birds in this family are characterized by their large conical bill which is adapted to eat fruits and crush seeds.


Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with sunflower seed in its strong conical beak.