Skip to content

Bird That Looks Like a Cardinal But Is Not

    A common thing to occur to you when someone realizes you’re a birder is they’ll let you know that they’ve seen an odd bird at their feeder. They’ll tell you it’s brownish and it features a crest as well as some rouge on the bird. It is like a cardinal kind of but they’re aware of the characteristics of a cardinal but this isn’t it , however it does have red…

    Cardinals are often referred to as redbirds, however, not every red bird is cardinal. Take a look at other birds that look similar to cardinals.

    See Also: Celsius To Fahrenheit Chart

    When you think of cardinals, you’re probably contemplating northern cardinals, wouldn’t you? You might know what northern cardinals appear. There are other birds that can be found in the wild and look like northern cardinals. However, they’re not.

    Which birds appear like cardinals? The birds that look like cardinals are pyrrhuloxias and phainopeplas. They also look like vermilion flycatchers as well as summer tanagers and many more. It’s not surprising that a pyrrhuloxia can be mistaken for northern cardinals, as they’re remarkably alike.

    This page serves as a complement to our article that was recently published about how to attract cardinals to your garden. After you have read this article We suggest you read the article recommended to find out more about how to attract these gorgeous birds to your yard using a few easy techniques.

    What are Northern Cardinals look like?

    Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are songbirds of medium size. They are found in forests and towns across the east of the United States. They are located west of South Dakota and Texas, They also reside in the deserts of Arizona and the south of Mexico. These are the common birds to feed in the areas where they can be found.

    This page serves as a complement on the page that focuses on the attraction of Northern Cardinals. The page links to additional detailed pages covering topics such as where cardinals can be seen and their habitat, nesting and courtship habits, as well as what they consume in the wild and at backyard feeders.

    This page will discuss the nature of Northern Cardinals. We will examine their size and form, the plumage as well as songs and calls and flight patterns of this bird.

    There are many who consider any bird that is red cardinal. We’ll then look at different species that are similar and learn how to distinguish them.

    Let’s take a look at the list of similar looking cardinal birds further down.

    Birds that resemble Northern Cardinals


    Pyrrhuloxia is also called desert cardinals typically prefer dry desert scrubs. The cardinal-like birds are found in Mexico and in the southwest United States.

    Pyrrrhuloxia birds resemble cardinals They are often referred to as”the desert cardinal. The species can be located throughout the Southwest and features the same striking Crest that Northern cardinals. The color is more distinct, however: Male pyrrhuloxias tend to be gray but with red elements. Are you looking for the coolest pyrrhuloxia? Explore the southern areas that include Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Take a look at stunning images of cardinals.


    • The pyrrhuloxia color is brownish-grey.
    • It is red with spots on its crest the chest, its upper wings and throat as well as the tail.
    • The covered in an elongated yellow bill that is an imposing, curving upper ridge.
    • It is adorned with the rouge face mask.
    • Males appear slightly reddish on its breasts and belly.


    Pyrrrhuloxias and cardinals are part of the same species (Cardinalis). These birds are very like cardinals, in terms of body shape size, height, high crests and the red feathers that are on the wings. Both birds weigh about the same and share the similar songs. Concerning the coloration, a pyrrhuloxia as well as female cardinals are nearly identical.


    Male cardinals typically have red plumage, while pyrrhuloxias tend to be brownish-grey. In addition, pyrrhuloxias sport tiny, parrot-like yellow bills. However, cardinals sport large, pointed red bills. On the bill, cardinals wear masks of black while a pyrrhuloxia wears the face mask that is red.

    Red Crossbill

    Another red bird worth looking at is the crossbill red. To confirm the identity take a look at the unique shape of the bill. Crossbills are found nearly everywhere, they are the ultimate nomads of the world of birds.

    Vermilion Flycatcher

    Vermilion flycatchers are found in Mexico and southwest United States, Central America central and northwestern South America, and as far north as Canada. They prefer open areas, savannahs forests, scrub, tropical forests, as well as agricultural fields.


    Vermilion flycatchers are flies with short tails and tiny bills.

    The color of the body for these bird species is stunning black and orange-red.

    They sport dark brown eyes. the eyes.

    They’re brown on the back along with the tail, wings, and back.

    Immature males may have red patches on their head and breasts.


    While vermilion flycatchers do not have crests like cardinals, these birds do have higher crown feathers on the head, and have a black mask. They are like cardinals, in terms of red hues across the belly and breast.


    As you’ve probably guessed, vermilion flycatchers do not have an crest that is similar to northern cardinals. These birds are short with smaller bills, while cardinals are able to come up with powerful long bills. Vermilion flycatchers appear blackish in their tails. However, cardinals sport red tails.

    Pine Grosbeak

    This species usually stays from the northern hemisphere however, it may appear in winter , at your feeders. If you spot the flash of feathers that look reddish-pink in a tree covered in snow, don’t assume it’s an eagle. We’ve found the top bird feeders for cardinals as well as birdseed.

    House Finch

    House Finch House Finch is the most well-known backyard feeder bird with a red head across The United States. They are shorter than cardinals. Females are brownish-striped. They are more active in trees than they do on ground. They don’t have crests.

    Purple Finch is like House Finch but is more restricted to northern conifer forests and the towns within that habitat.


    Phainopepla can be found all over the southwest United States. They are abundant in deserts in Arizona and southern California Southern Nevada and southern Nevada, and the Baja Peninsula. In addition to deserts, they favor dry woodlands. They’re usually seen on tall trees and bushes.

    The unique species appears like a dark or black gray cardinal that has an eye that is red. The phainopepla is found in the southwest region of the U.S. Learn how to identify and attract cardinals.


    • Phainopeplas have saggy crests as well as slim appearance.
    • Males are shiny black.
    • Females tend to be dark grey.
    • Both genders have visible white spots on their wing feathers.
    • They have long tails and the eyes are a red.


    Phainopeplas are very like northern cardinals in regards to dimensions and shape. Similar to cardinals, they have shaggy necks as well as long tails. Also, they have eyes that are round as well as like-looking legs of cardinals with sharp nails.


    The main distinction between a phainopepla as well as northern cardinal is their color. Males and females appear shiny with dark and black and cardinals appear color-changing red (females have bright gray). In addition, phainopeplas have slimmer beaks and slimmer bodies.

    Tufted Titmouse

    The titmouse that is tufted is gray and white not red, but its head crest could fool you into thinking that it’s female cardinal. Here’s how you can attract the titmice in your yard to come to your garden.

    Vermilion Flycatcher

    The tiny, but stunningly male flycatcher, with a red tail, wings, and back does not feed on ground. It is located in low branches of trees or fence lines close to the water in the desert areas that border Mexico. In winter, it wanders little, but not too far to the north, California up to Alabama. During this time , it visits the fields of baseball and golf courses.

    It doesn’t actually have a crest but it does have crown feathers that sit above a black mask. The bill is small flat and black. It is upright and then flies off to catch insects flying around, and then return on its perch. The doesn’t hop over the ground. It doesn’t take seeds for a meal. It doesn’t visit bird feeders.

    Scarlet Tanager

    Scarlet Tanagers typically reside in evergreen forest areas in the eastern the midwestern, northeastern and eastern regions of North America. In winter, the birds move towards the south of the northwestern portion of South America. In addition to forest areas They prefer habitats with shrubs and backyards.

    Many red birds look like cardinals from a distance. The scarlet tanagers are large red bodies and heads, as well as tail feathers that are black and black. They prefer to be high up in the trees. Take a look at these four beautiful tanager species be aware of.


    • Scarlet tanagers are large songbirds with a broad, rounded bill.
    • Males sport bright red plumage and black wings.
    • Females are olive-yellow with dark olive wings.
    • The tails are long and wide.
    • Males may have orange-colored feathers on their wings.


    The most significant difference between a scarlet tanager male cardinals is their red hue. Similar to cardinals, scarlet tanagers are rounded in their eyes. Though they don’t sport crests, they do have slightly raised crown feathers that cover the head.


    The main difference is that scarlet Tanagers do not have crests, like cardinals. They possess smaller bill sizes, whereas cardinals are larger and have thicker bills. Also the scarlet tanagers have large, yet short tails, however, cardinals have longer tails. They also don’t have an black mask on their faces.

    Cedar Waxwing

    There are a variety of colors in the cedar waxwing! They sport an ear crest on their heads and masks of black, which means that when seen from the distance, they are like cardinals. Check for bright feathers on their wings and tail. It is likely that you will see these birds in a berry bush. Find out how to recognize which bohemian and cedar waxwings.

    Summer Tanager

    Tanagers in summer are typically found across the Southern (both southwest and southeast) United States. They migrate towards the northern part of South America, Central America and Mexico during the winter. There are also some of them within Texas and Florida during the winter.

    Tanagers in summer are all red birds, with no tail and black wings that are characteristic of scarlet Tanagers and also no black eye masks like cardinals. They are found in southern states. They’re not as plentiful as cardinals and spotting one can be a thrilling experience for birdwatchers. Learn 8 fascinating facts about Tanagers.


    • Tanagers in summer are crimson red.
    • Females appear greenish-yellow with orange flecks.
    • Males are slightly taller, with pale yellow bill.
    • They have slightly longer tails and round eyes.
    • The wings appear a little dark in the final.


    In regards to colors of the wings and body Tanagers in summer are like cardinals. Both birds’ wings appear black in the final. Additionally the northern cardinals look almost the same in dimensions.


    The primary difference is that the fact that summer tanagers do not have the crests of cardinals. They sport slightly long bill, which is pale yellow as opposed to cardinals who have larger, red bill. In addition their tails for summer tanagers tend to be shorter. However, Northern cardinals are longer in their tails.

    Vermilion Flycatcher

    One of the most ideal locations to spot vivid red vermilion flycatchers is Saguaro National Park in Arizona and there’s an abundance in desert habitat. They sport an eye mask that is black, like a cardinal with black tail and wings feathers that resemble scarlet Tanagers. Find these desert bird species of southwest.

    Cardinal identification, in general

    Cardinals are songbirds of medium size. They have large tails. The wings are small. The head is pretty large. The bill is large and conical. The hallmark mark for both females and males is a huge pointy crest made of feathers that is located on the crown of the hind.

    Cardinals have been removed from the finch family and sparrows. They were then placed in their own family, called the Cardinalidae.

    In a strange way, there are some (but it’s not the only) birds that have grosbeak bunting, tanager, or grosbeak within their names can be within the family of cardinals. The backyard birds of the United States that are in the cardinal family are the Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks as well as Indigo Buntings, as being Western, Summer, and Scarlet Tanagers. There are some others too.

    In many ways, cardinals act like sparrows in many ways. With or without its crown, cardinals are in the same general shape as towhees.

    There are three kinds of Cardinals. They are the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) which we will discuss in this article. It is found in Columbia as well as Venezuela is the same all-red crested bird called known as the Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus). Also, in the desert Southwest is in the desert Southwest is Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus).

    Do you need to know more? There is a bird known as”the Red-crested Cardinal” (Paroaria coronata) located in South America. It’s gray and white with red crest and a thick bill. This bird was introduced to Hawaii and is quite popular there. It is part of the Tanager group, Thraupidae. According to researchers, it isn’t closely with the cardinals of the real world.

    Final Words

    If you are aware of the birds that resemble cardinals, it’s easier to not get confused when identifying northern cardinals and the similar-looking birds. The pyrrhuloxia can be quite difficult to identify, as it appears to be the exact same bird as the female northern cardinal.

    However, the other birds can be easily identified as they’re distinct from cardinals. Be aware that phainopeplas ‘ crests are shaggy feathers , similar to northern cardinals, however they’re black and glossy.

    It’s that simple. Learn how to recognize a female cardinal and you’ll be able answer the most frequently asked bird identification question that comes your way , but also begin the process towards becoming a avid birder. Good work!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *