Cardinal (bird)

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Northern Cardinal Broadside.jpg
Male northern cardinal
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Cardinalidae
Ridgway, 1901


An American male cardinal feeds on a sunflower seed.

Cardinals, in the family Cardinalidae, are passerine birds found in North and South America. They are also known as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings.

Cardinalis cardinalis - Northern Cardinal audio

Historically, the South American cardinals in the genus Paroaria have been placed in the tanager family Thraupidae. However, DNA analysis of the genera Piranga (which includes the scarlet tanager, summer tanager, and western tanager), Chlorothraupis, and Habia showed their closer relationship to the cardinal family.[1] They have been reassigned to that family by the American Ornithological Society.[2]

Species list[edit]

(1) "Masked" clade:

A female northern cardinal
Male northern cardinal - Manhasset, New York
A male cardinal in Texas
Newly hatched cardinals in Texas

(2) "Blue" clade:

(3) Ant tanager clade:

(4) "Chat" clade:

(5) "Pheucticus" clade:


They are robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. The family's smallest member is the 12-cm (4.7-in), 11.5-g (0.40-oz) orange-breasted bunting. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinctive appearances. The northern cardinal type species was named by colonists for the male's red crest, reminiscent of a Catholic cardinal's biretta.[3]

The "North American buntings" are known as such to distinguish them from buntings of the Old World family Emberizidae. The name "cardinal-grosbeak" can also apply to the cardinalid family as a whole.

Most species are rated by the IUCN as being of least concern, though some are near threatened.[4]

Biological suppression of West Nile virus[edit]

A study conducted in 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, on West Nile virus transmission in the United States, found that unlike other species, cardinals biologically suppress the disease upon infection.[5]


  1. ^ Yuri, T.; Mindell, D. P. (May 2002). "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Fringillidae, "New World nine-primaried oscines" (Aves: Passeriformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 23 (2): 229–243. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00012-X. PMID 12069553.
  2. ^ "Family: Cardinalidae". American Ornithological Society. Retrieved Feb 1, 2019.
  3. ^ Duchesne, Bob (September 21, 2012). "Proliferation of cardinals a fairly recent event". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
  4. ^ Search "cardinalidae" at IUCN Red List Archived June 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine for more info.
  5. ^ Levine, Rebecca S.; et al. (November 2016) [9 June 2016 (online publication)]. "Supersuppression: Reservoir Competency and Timing of Mosquito Host Shifts Combine to Reduce Spillover of West Nile Virus". The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 95 (5). doi:10.4269/ajtmh.15-0809. PMC 5094236. PMID 27503511. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.

External links[edit]