General description.

Called the "Gray Cardinal" and close relative of the bright red Northern Cardinal, these two species share the same crested form. The "Pyrrhuloxia" is a year-round resident of the airy, brushy ranch lands and open desert scrub of the southwest. The "pyrrhu" of the name means "flame colored". Although shy and difficult to detect in their dense habitats, they respond to squeaking noises and can be flushed out by observers.

Female appearance.

Similar but paler and lacks red on the breast.

Breeding habits.

The "Pyrrhuloxia breeds" throughout its range of Arizona, New Mexico and southern Texas southward.

Calls or song.

Songs of the "Pyrrhuloxia" consist of a series of clear, sharp, whistled notes, "what-cheer, what-cheer", and its call includes a high, chattering "tic, tic, tick, tic-tic-tic-tic-tic". A couple may use a brief, sharp and metallic "cheek" or "chip" to stay in contact while foraging.

Population and distribution.

This cardinal is more often found in flocks after breeding season, unlike its northern cousin. They gather to hunt for seed.

Nesting habits.

The female "Pyrrhuloxia" lays three or four white eggs, lightly specked with brown, in a loosely built cup of grass, twigs and bark strips, which she conceals in a dense, thorny bush.

Similar birds:

Northern Cardinal Photo Northern Cardinal
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