Cardinals are the most observed and famous backyard birds derived from the cardinalidae group. These birdies can catch the attention of any nature wanderer with their brightly colored plumage, which comes in a variety of colors.
But among these cardinals’ colors, what creates great hearsay among birders is the gray color. Some believe gray-colored cardinals exist, while others question their existence. So, are there gray cardinals? Do they really exist?
Cardinals come in red, yellow, white, and grey-brown colors. Some cardinals tend to boast pink skin and gray scaling, but you can’t find any cardinal with an entire gray plumage. That said, let’s read some other rumors regarding cardinals floating around in the bird watchers community in this article.
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Can Cardinals Come In Gray Color?
No, you can’t find any cardinals featuring an entire gray-colored plumage. But you can witness some female cardinals that grow tan feathers, and these feathers look similar to gray, giving you a feel of observing gray cardinals, though.
Are Female Cardinals Grey?
Female cardinals have brown-colored feathers, plus they boast warm reddish spots in the tail, crest, and wings.
So, all these colors can trick bird watchers’ minds and make them believe that grey cardinals exist.
Are There Black Cardinals?
Like the gray cardinals, some people make the mistake of assuming phainopepla birds as black cardinals. And they do it because these birdies have the same body shape and posture as cardinals, and their entire feathers’ color is black.
That’s why these birds are known as black cardinals. But in reality, black cardinals don’t exist.
Are There Blue Cardinals?
Although you can hear from people witnessing black or gray cardinals, you will find no bird watchers who have ever spotted blue cardinals.
There is no such thing as this name, and if someone claims to spot blue cardinals, you need to understand that he/she must be lying.
Are There White Cardinals?
Yes, white cardinals exist, but you can rarely find them. You can spot leucistic and albino cardinals, backed with white plumage, among northern cardinal groups if you are fortunate.
It’s because, according to avian experts, about 1 in 1800 cardinals can grow white feathers.
Which Bird Does Make People Believe The Existence Of Gray Cardinal?
Pyrrhuloxias look pretty similar to northern cardinals. And after seeing these birds, people believe that gray cardinals exist, and some can’t differentiate these birds and name them gray cardinals.
Pyrrhuloxias Vs. Cardinals: How TO Differentiate:
Differentiating between Pyrrhuloxias and northern cardinals can be pretty challenging as both birdies pose a lot of similarities; in essence, they fall under the same genus.
Both birds feature red feathers, tall crests, and the same weight and body shape, and their calls are similar.
So, how do you differentiate them? Well, here are some methods you can follow. We recommend you check those birds’ bills thoroughly. If you notice that the bird you are looking at features a large, thickly-pointed, red or orange-colored bill, it’s a cardinal.
In contrast, if the bird has a small, parrot-like, rounded, yellow-colored bill, it’s a Pyrrhuloxia. Just to be double sure, we recommend checking the bird’s face as well.
While observing, if you notice red color around the bill and eye, it’s Pyrrhuloxia. And if you see black color around the aforementioned areas of the bird, it’s a cardinal.
Finally, the last differentiating fact to remember is that Pyrrhuloxia is more likely to have gray as a predominant color. So, these are some differentiating techniques that will help you recognize these birds in no time.
What Other Birds Look Like Cardinals?
Apart from Pyrrhuloxia, we found several other birds that look like cardinals but don’t have the same characteristics. And those birdies are scarlet tanager, summer tanager, vermilion flycatcher, phainopepla, red crossbill, pine grosbeak, tufted titmouse, cedar waxwing, and so on.
Below, we have talked a bit about how cardinals are different from these birds in terms of physical characteristics and other traits. So, let’s read it.
01. Scarlet Tanager:
Although scarlet tanagers share the same bird family group with cardinals, these birds have some differences.
They don’t come with crowns like cardinals; plus, scarlet tanagers tend to be smaller than cardinals.
02. Summer Tanager:
During the observation, we found that the main difference between the summer tanager and the cardinal is that the summer tanager features a red face while cardinals have black masks.
Alongside that, summer tanagers come with comparatively longer tan beaks and shorter tails than cardinals.
03. Vermillion Flycatcher:
The significant difference between the vermillion flycatcher and the cardinal is that the vermillion flycatcher has a red throat while the cardinal’s one is black.
Apart from that, the vermillion flycatcher boasts a smaller crest than the cardinal. And lastly, vermilion flycatchers love to ingest insects more than grains.
Phainopepla and cardinal have the same physical characteristics. Both bird types have patches, crests, long tails, and broad wings.
But what sets phainopepla apart from cardinal is its size. This bird tends to be slightly smaller than cardinals.
05. Red Crossbill:
Differentiating the red crossbill from the cardinal is easy. The red crossbill features a more orange color than red. And these birds only feed on conifer seeds.
So, these are two major differences that can help you recognize a red crossbill.
06. Pine Grosbeak:
Compared to cardinals, pine grosbeaks have charcoal beaks and medium-sized tails with black tips, while cardinals feature orange beaks and long tails.
Besides, pine grosbeaks come with a wide variety of wings, including black, red, and white.
07. Tufted Titmice:
According to researchers, tufted titmice come with larger heads, eyes, and grey crests than cardinals.
And these are primary criteria that will help you differentiate these birds from cardinals.
08. Cedar Waxwing:
Cedar waxwing tends to house thicker and shorter bills than northern cardinals. They have long tails with yellow tips, making them different from cardinals.
So, these are all facts regarding cardinals’ look-alike and how you can differentiate these bird species from cardinals.
Now you know that no cardinals can have an entire gray plumage. Indeed they come in various colors, but you can’t find anything like gray cardinals.
So, next time, if somebody tells you about witnessing gray cardinals, you should reply that it might be the Pyrrhuloxia or any other cardinal-look-alike bird species.