Male Cardinal And Pyrrhuloxia

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Yesterday I posted some images of Northern Cardinals.  Those of us who reside in southern Arizona are fortunate in that we have two cardinal species living here: the Northern Cardinal and its close cousin, the Pyrrhuloxia (sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Mexican Cardinal”).

Pyrrhuloxias are in the main a Mexican species whose range intrudes into southwest Texas, southern New Mexico, and southern Arizona.  They bear a strong resemblance to cardinals and, in fact, the two species are very closely related.


Pyrrhuloxias are slightly smaller than cardinals.  The male Pyrrhuloxia, like the one depicted here, lacks the Cardinal’s nearly all-scarlet plumage.  Its base plumage is gray, accompanied by intense red on the bird’s face, crest, breast, and wingtips and tail.  A principal difference between the two species lies in the shapes and colors of their beaks.  Cardinals’ beaks are red and wedge-shaped.  Pyrrhuloxias’ beaks are ivory colored and there is a pronounced curve to their upper and lower mandibles.


Obviously, male Pyrrhuloxias and cardinals are easy to tell apart.  That’s not the case with the females of these species.  Tomorrow I’ll post images of female Pyrrhuloxias and cardinals.  They look a lot alike.

Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture preferred setting, ISO 400. The first image shot at f8 @ 1/640, the second at f8 @ 1/1600.

One response to “Male Cardinal And Pyrrhuloxia”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Glad to see the Pyrrhuloxias back!

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