Have you ever spotted the Masked Cardinal? If you have, you may be happy to see this bird and probably wonder about various questions surrounding this beautiful bird.
For example, you might think about where this bird comes from, how its songs sound, and other related questions.
If this is the case and you seek answers to these questions, we recommend reading this blog post. So, without delaying more, let’s dive deep into this content.
Masked Cardinal Profile – Glance at Significant Information
|Geographic origin: Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela.
Family: Tanager family (Thraupidae)
|Red-capped Cardinal and Red-crested Cardinal
|Black mask around the eyes, bright red forehead and lower throat, conical beak, dark gray wings and tail, white underparts, and gray legs.
|Territorial in the breeding season
Overview of Masked Cardinal
The Masked Cardinal – a bird from the Tanager family (Thraupidae) – is a small, colorful animal that enchants bird watchers worldwide with its lucrative plumage and melodic chirps.
Masked Cardinals reside in Trinidad, north-eastern Colombia, and northern Venezuela. In the early days, numerous birdwatching enthusiasts often mistook the Masked Cardinal for the Red-Capped and Red-crested cardinals.
People assumed the Red-Capped or Red-crested Cardinal was the Masked Cardinal or vice-versa due to these birds’ similar physical characteristics.
Nonetheless, with a close inspection, you can differentiate these birdies. For example, if you look at the ear coverts of these birds, you will notice the Masked Cardinal features black ear coverts that the Red-capped Cardinal lacks.
Apart from this, the Masked Cardinal has a red throat, while the Red-capped has a black throat. Hence, you can easily distinguish these two birds’ primary characteristics.
Physical Characteristics and Features
Here, we will discuss everything about the Masked Cardinal’s physical characteristics. Hence, thoroughly read this section.
Distinctive Appearance: The Masked Cardinal is a stunning bird that attracts people with its tricolored appearance. Its head and throat feature red plumage, but this bird also has a black mask around its round and dark eyes.
It comes with a short and cone-shaped black beak. Its back and tail are dark gray/black, and its underparts, including its chest and belly, are white. Finally, the Masked Cardinal’s legs are gray.
Size and Measurements: The Masked Cardinal tends to be 16.5 cm long, like an average medium-sized bird.
Weight: It weighs around 23.6 g, but it can vary.
Plumage Variation: As you know, the Masked Cardinal boasts three color types on its plumage, and these colors are red, dark gray/black, and gray. Female birds tend to have duller shades of red and black, and their white underparts may feature tinted gray.
However, no research has found any other color variation in Masked Cardinal’s plumage except for the abovementioned colors.
Physical Traits of Young and Adults: The physical traits of young and adult masked cardinals remain pretty identical. But there are a few subtle differences. For instance, young masked cardinals feature duller red and black plumage than adults.
Furthermore, they tend to be smaller, less vocal, and less active than adult masked cardinals.
Wing and Tail Features: This beautiful bird features black/dark gray wings and a tail. Its wings are round and best suited for agile maneuvering. On the other hand, its tail is square-cut, enabling this birdie to undertake speedy short flights.
Distribution And Habitat
The Masked Cardinal chooses various areas to build their nests. Keep reading this section to learn more about this bird’s habitat preferences, geographic distribution, and other factors.
The Masked Cardinal has a restrictive geographic distribution as you can’t spot them anywhere besides their habitats. This captivating bird is found in Trinidad, northern Venezuela, and eastern Colombia.
The Masked Cardinal primarily chooses riverine forests, savannas, woodlands, gardens, scrublands, parks, and agricultural areas as their habitats.
Migration and Seasonal Movements
It is a non-migratory bird, so it doesn’t undertake long flights like many other bird species.
However, the Masked Cardinal may conduct short-distance flights and fly around to different places due to threats, food scarcity, or nest-building purposes.
Threats and Conservation Status
This attractive bird is marked as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. That means this species isn’t currently at risk of extinction.
But this bird does face several threats, such as habitat loss because of deforestation, food scarcity during winter, unavailability of water resources in the dry season, etc.
Alongside all these, predatory animals remain one of the crucial threats to this poor bird.
Behavior And Traits of Masked Cardinal
The Masked Cardinal possesses distinct behavioral patterns you will know after glancing through this section.
What is the Difference Between a Red-crested Cardinal and a Masked Cardinal?
Although the masked and red-crested cardinals belong to the same tanager family and share the same name, cardinal, they are different birds with distinct physical features.
If you look at these birds’ heads and faces, you will notice that the Red-crested cardinal has an erectile red crest that the Masked Cardinal lacks. Instead of such a crest, the Masked Cardinal has a red, short, flat, occipital crest.
Another differentiating factor includes their black face mask. While the Red-crested Cardinal’s face mask surrounds its eyes, the Masked Cardinal’s one extends further down to its cheeks.
Last but not least, their songs are different. The Red-crested Cardinal produces loud songs, while the Masked Cardinal yields clear bell-like whistles.
Diurnal and Social Behavior
The Masked Cardinal is a diurnal animal. Like most cardinal birds, it forages for food during the day and sleeps at night.
However, this birdie may remain active during the breeding season in the nighttime to protect its family and territory.
Like the Northern and other cardinal birds, this one prefers living in pairs and staying with its family.
Sometimes, it may gather in large flocks, especially during fruiting season, and may consume foods from bird feeders with other birds. All these data indicate that the Masked Cardinal is a social bird.
Breeding Season Behavior
When the breeding season begins in June and runs through November (applicable to birds in Venezuela), the male Masked Cardinal starts exhibiting courtship behaviors, which include displaying vibrant plumage, making loud and clear whistles, etc.
On the other hand, the female bird chooses her mate after thoroughly inspecting the male bird’s calls and plumage displays. Eventually, both birdies form a monogamous bond.
Aggressive Mating Behavior
No research or evidence proves that the Masked Cardinal shows aggression during mating. However, the male bird indeed gets territorial in the breeding season.
At this time, both male and female birds produce loud whistles to warn other birds about the intruders’ presence in their territory.
Additionally, they may engage in aggressive chases to drive intruders away from their territory.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Masked cardinals are omnivores and prefer consuming plant-based food and animal matter. Mostly, they munch on seeds and fruits. Occasionally, they eat insects as well.
Reproduction And Development
This section covers everything about the Masked Cardinal’s reproduction and development. After reading it, you will have sheer knowledge of this bird’s reproduction and development.
Nesting Behavior and Habitat Selection
Like other cardinals, Masked cardinals also start building cup-shaped nests in the breeding season. These birds construct such nests using twigs, leaves, moss, and other plant material.
The Masked Cardinal tends to line its nest with soft material and decorate it with spider webs! Primarily, it chooses tropical forests and areas with dense vegetation as its habitats.
Egg Laying and Incubation
After successfully building the nest, female Masked Cardinal lay around two eggs. These eggs are pale cream and feature olive-brown markings. Unfortunately, there is no information on incubation.
Songs And Calls
The Masked Cardinal can produce a series of complex and melodic whistles. Its songs sound like “ptchiu wheet pt pt chiu chiieuw wheet chiu chiieer wheet pt pt chiu.”
Additionally, this birdie can yield a variety of calls, which sound like “tchep” and “chuep.” So, this bird’s songs and calls vary depending on the situation. Its mating, alarming, and charming calls are distinctly different.
This is all the information about the Masked Cardinal’s sounds and vocal behavior.
Below, we have shared some interesting facts about the Masked Cardinal that can help you learn more about this enchanting bird.
- Despite its name, the Masked Cardinal isn’t an actual cardinal nor belongs to the Cardinalidae family
- The Masked Cardinal can sing and call in varied tones and melodies
- It is an omnivore animal that regularly feeds on mixed fruits, seeds, and insects
Our Concluding Thoughts
You now know virtually everything about the vibrant bird Masked Cardinal. FYI, gathering information on this bird was quite a challenge, and we have successfully accomplished this job.
However, we believe this comprehensive blog gives you all the information about the Masked Cardinal and helps you enrich your knowledge. If it does, you may share this content on Twitter, and Pinterest with your friends and family.