Bird of the Week: Pyrrhuloxia or Desert Cardinal (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Pyrrhuloxia, Cardinalis sinuatus

The beautiful Pyrrhuloxia, or desert cardinal, is closely related to the Northern Cardinal.  The roots of its name mean “flame-colored” and “crooked”, which describes their color and crooked bill. They can be found in the southwestern desert of Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. Their nests are built in mesquite forests and cactus gardens. They have a unique call, listen to it here.

They are “opportunistic carnivores”, eating both seeds and a variety of insects. They can go weeks without drinking water because they can get the water they need from the insects they eat. Foraging winter flocks of Pyrrhuloxias may number as many as 1,000 birds. That’s a lot of birds!


Thanks to Seth Hall for lending his bird expertise to this this blog.

Photo credit: Cardinalis sinuatus 3 CC BY 2.0

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