They're lively, bright and amazing songsters. At about 9 inches, with a 12 inch wingspan, these flashy members of the finch family are easy to spot, if not by the males' scarlet red plumage, then by the long tails and crested heads of both the male cardinals and the reddish-tan, less showy female cardinals.
The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off. Even the brown females sport a sharp crest and warm red accents. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they’re still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning.