Monday, April 2, 2012


The Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)  is a relative of the more widely-known Northern Cardinal.  A couple of local names are Desert Cardinal and Silver Cardinal.  This is a bird of the scrub deserts of Mexico, western Texas, and the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

The male Pyrrhuloxia look quite a lot like the female Northern Cardinal, but with more rosy red in the face and chest and different beak shape.  The Pyrrhuloxia beak is quite parrot-like.  These close relatives sound much alike, with the Pyrrhuloxia's song being a little higher pitched and clipped. 

These particular photos were taken at San Pedro House in mid-March.  This male is rather dull, not yet having his bright Spring/Summer breeding colours. 

Its name of Pyrrhuloxia - once part of its latin name - comes from Greek terms describing its coloration (πυρρος = pyrrhos = reddish or orange) and the shape of its bill (λοξος = loxos = oblique). (obviously from Wikipedia

These birds prefer scrub desert but also close to water.  The riparian habitat along the San Pedro is ideal.  They are pretty much non-migratory, however in Winter some may wander outside their usual range.  That usual range is also expanding northward, benefitting from agricultural and other human influences (now that's something one doesn't hear very often!).   Visit Wikipedia or All About Birds (links below) or check out your North American bird guide books for range and more about these birds.

The above bird was at San Pedro as well, but along the river.  I found Pyrrhuloxias everywhere I visited in SE Arizona.  They readily come to seed feeders.  Their wild diet is seeds, fruits and insects. 

For more info about this bird species, hear the bird song, etc, visit:


  1. Looks kinda like a cross between a male and female cardinal. I'll add it to my "look for" list the next time we visit the grandkids in Mesa... :)

  2. whose the pretty bird? you are...