cardinal or redbird, common name for a North American songbird of the family Fringillidae (New World finch family). In the eastern cardinal, Richmondena cardinalis, the male is bright scarlet with black throat and face; the female is brown with patches of red. Both sexes have crests and red bills. The Arizona, gray-tailed, Louisiana, and San Lucas cardinals frequent the S United States and Mexico. The pyrrhuloxia of the SW United States, gray with red face, crest, breast, and tail, is called gray cardinal or parrotbill. Cup-shaped nests are built by male and female, and the male helps rear the young. Cardinals are essentially monogamous, and are not very gregarious. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Fringillidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.