Generally, every bird species has two common genders, and so do the cardinals. But sometimes, identifying which one is male and female can be tricky for some birders as they don’t know how to tell if a cardinal is male or female just by looking at it.
Well, there are two ways to differentiate these birds; one is by inspecting their physical characteristics, and the other is by examining the behavioral traits that we have briefly described in this article.
So, if you wanna know everything about the identification of northern cardinals’ gender, keep your eyes peeled through this content.
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How To Identify Male & Female Cardinals By Their Physical Attributes:
As you know, northern cardinals are principally red, yet you can find slight differences in the plumage of male and female cardinals. If you notice a cardinal with an outrageously bright-red plumage, you can be sure it’s a male cardinal.
On the contrary, female cardinals boast subtler and duller pale brown feathers. Plus, they have red tips on the crests, tails, and wings. They also feature red bills and black face masks like the male cardinals.
Another gender-separating factor is their throat; while male northern cardinals come with red throats, the female ones contain yellow-brown and shaggier throats.
Their crests will also help you separate the male cardinals from females. The male northern cardinals have bright red crests, while females come with a combination of red and gray colored crests.
Anyway, if you have the opportunity to inspect male and female cardinals closely, you can measure their size and weight to differentiate the male from the female.
FYI, male northern cardinals tend to be slightly bigger with 8.7 to 9.25 inches in length than female birdies, and they are also a bit heavier than female northern cardinals.
While cardinals’ physical features can help you separate male and female cardinals easily, you can also inspect other differences mentioned below to identify male and female cardinals. So, let’s get started.
How To Determine Male & Female Cardinals By Monitoring Their Various Traits:
Indeed, you can distinguish male and female cardinals by examining their behaviors alongside thoroughly inspecting their physical characteristics. That said, let’s explore.
01. Singing Ability:
Cardinals are known as songbirds; hence they can adapt to holding a tune, differing from male to female cardinals. Male cardinals often sing aggressively to protect their breeding and nesting grounds. On the other hand, female cardinals bring tacticality into singing.
Also, female cardinals can sing more songs than males, and they can sing songs with more than 24 variations. But the male cardinals can’t produce different pitches in their songs.
02. Nesting and Feeding:
After becoming a breeding pair, both male and female cardinals perform specific duties and help each other by completing various chores described below.
They cooperate during nest building; the female cardinals do much of the nest building job, and the male cardinals help supply the nest materials.
Again, after laying eggs, female cardinals incubate eggs while the males take the responsibility of arranging food and sheltering the family. Male birdies fend off intruders by singing and performing defensive actions.
So, these are some behavioral traits you can look for when differentiating male and female cardinals. Now let’s share an exciting and rare fact about cardinals’ gender.
Can Cardinals Be Both Male And Female?
The short answer to this question is yes; cardinals can be both male and female. According to BBC News, an ornithologist named Jamie hill witnessed and snapped a remarkable cardinal he had never seen in his entire lifetime.
He saw that the cardinal’s half body was tan while the other part featured red-colored plumage. Those colors were split down the middle, making the bird look like two birds had been joined together.
Quite interesting, right! Scientists have specified such natural selection and called it Gynandromorph, aka a sexual mosaic.
Cardinals can amuse you with their beautiful plumage, physical characteristics, and behavioral traits. That’s why every birder loves watching these birds, yet very few can identify their genders.
However, we hope you can easily separate male and female cardinals next time, as you have already read how avid birders identify those northern cardinals in a snap. Hence, if this guide helps you, you may share this article and stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.
- bbc.com/news (Jamie Hill)