Northern Cardinal

photo by Phil Swanson

Cardinalis cardinalis
L 8 3/4″ (22 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Variable loud, liquid “cue cue cue,” “cheer cheer cheer,” and “purty purty purty.” 

Description: Conspicuous crest, and large, cone-shaped reddish bill. Male is bright red overall with a black face and throat. Female is buffy-brown to buffy-olive and has a red tinge on wings, crest, and tail. Juvenile is similar to female but browner overall and has a dark brown bill.

Behavior: Both sexes sing almost year round.

Bird Map
Habitat: Forest edges, brushy forest openings, parks and residential areas with shrubs and low trees, second-growth woods, and riparian forests.

Where in Nebraska: Common permanent resident in eastern Nebraska, becoming uncommon to occasional westwardly. Apparently absent from the western Sandhills and the Pine Ridge area.

Fun Facts: Northern Cardinals are the only species in Nebraska with a red beak and both the male and the female sing (unlike most songbirds).

Male Cardinal in Winter - photo by Phil Swanson Male Cardinal - Summer. - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)