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Pyrrhuloxia - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by fuzzhead.
Portal, Arizona, USA
Cardinalis sinuatus


7-1/2 to 8-1/2 inches long

  • Grey overall
  • Red on the face, crest, wings, tail and underparts

Female shows little or no red; the bill is a dull yellow.

Similar Species

Photo © by Larry D Smith

Similar to the female and juvenile Northern Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia's thick, strongly curved, parrot-like orange-yellow bill helps identify it.


It is primarily a resident of Mexico, but can be found in the southern parts of the U.S. states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.



Three subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • C. s. fulvescens:
  • Arid southern Arizona and north-western Mexico (Sonora to northern Nayarit)
  • C. s. sinuatus:
  • C. s. peninsulae:


This bird is fairly common in thorny brush and mesquite thickets of dry streambeds, desert, woodland edges and ranchlands.


Form huge flocks in the winter.

When approached, a pair will fly up to a high watch post, erect their crests, and sound a loud alarm.


A clutch of 3-4 white eggs are laid in a loosely built cup made up of grass, twigs and bark. It is hidden in a dense thorny bush.


The diet consists of seeds and insects and fruits, fond of cotton worms and weevils These birds feed on seeds and insects and benefit cotton fields by destroying great numbers of cotton worms and weevils.


Song a series of whistled "what-cheer, what-cheer" notes thinner and shorter than the song of the Northern Cardinal. The call is a sharp metallic "quink" or chip.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. aviary.owls.com
  3. Cornell

Recommended Citation

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