Can a Cardinal be Orange? [Photo Proof]

There is a variant of Northern Cardinal that is orange colored rather than red. There are also females that are light orange – grey. 


The cardinal is one of the most majestic wild birds on the planet, but seeing one standing still can be challenging.

They are well-known for their timid nature and are not actually quite friendly.

The following cardinal bird data will help you appreciate how they behave in their natural habitat.

Pictures of orange cardinals:


Color Scheme

Male cardinals are completely crimson, with a reddish bill and a black face directly around the eye. Females are mostly light brown with warm reddish tinges on the legs, tail, and crest. They share a similar faces and an orange-red bill. Some are orange like the ones on this list.

List of orange birds

  1. American Robin
  2. Baltimore Oriole
  3. Bullock’s Oriole
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Scarlet Tanager
  6. Vermilion Flycatcher
  7. Western Tanager
  8. Hooded Oriole
  9. Flame-colored Tanager
  10. Altamira Oriole
  11. European Goldfinch
  12. Blue Jay
  13. Great Blue Heron
  14. Snowy Owl
  15. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  16. African Grey Parrot
  17. Keel-billed Toucan
  18. Atlantic Puffin
  19. Kingfisher
  20. American Goldfinch
  21. Harpy Eagle
  22. Australian King Parrot
  23. Barn Swallow
  24. Peacock
  25. Yellow Warbler
  26. Rainbow Lorikeet
  27. Resplendent Quetzal
  28. African Fish Eagle
  29. Roseate Spoonbill
  30. Mandarin Duck
  31. White-tailed Tropicbird
  32. Red-tailed Hawk
  33. Long-tailed Widowbird
  34. European Bee-eater
  35. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock




  1. Plumage: Males have a striking, bright red plumage covering most of their body. Some can be more orange and grey.
  2. Face mask: They have a black face mask that extends from their eyes to their throat, providing a stark contrast to the red feathers.
  3. Crest: The crest is a pointed tuft of feathers on the top of their head, which is also bright red. The crest can be raised or lowered depending on the bird’s mood or behavior.
  4. Bill: Northern Cardinals have a strong, conical-shaped bill that is bright orange or reddish-orange in color.
  5. Legs: Their legs and feet are also reddish-orange.


  1. Plumage: Female Northern Cardinals have a more muted coloration compared to males. Their plumage is primarily grayish-brown or olive-brown with some reddish or orange tinges, especially on the wings, tail, and crest.
  2. Face mask: Females also have a black face mask, but it is less extensive and bold than that of males.
  3. Crest: The crest on females is the same shape as males, but it is more subdued in color, often matching the reddish-brown hue of their wings and tail.
  4. Bill: Female cardinals also have a strong, conical-shaped bill, but it is often more orange or orange-brown compared to males.
  5. Legs: Like males, the legs and feet of female cardinals are reddish-orange.


Northern Cardinal look-alikes:

  1. Pyrrhuloxia: Also known as the Desert Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia has a similar body shape and crest to the Northern Cardinal. Males have a mix of gray and red or reddish-orange plumage, with a gray body and a reddish crest, face, and breast. Females are mostly gray with a lighter reddish or orangish tint on the wings and tail. The Pyrrhuloxia has a curved, parrot-like bill, unlike the straight, conical-shaped bill of the Northern Cardinal.
  2. Scarlet Tanager: Male Scarlet Tanagers have bright red plumage with black wings and tail, which may be reminiscent of the male Northern Cardinal’s red color. However, they lack the black face mask and crest found in Northern Cardinals. Females are olive-yellow and do not resemble female Northern Cardinals.
  3. Summer Tanager: Male Summer Tanagers are entirely red, which may lead to confusion with male Northern Cardinals. However, they lack the crest and black face mask found in cardinals. Female Summer Tanagers are yellowish-green and do not resemble female Northern Cardinals.
  4. Vermilion Flycatcher : The male Vermilion Flycatcher has a bright red-orange head and underparts, with a dark brown back and wings. Although it is smaller and lacks the crest of the Northern Cardinal, the red coloration might lead to initial confusion. Female Vermilion Flycatchers are grayish-brown with a white belly and do not resemble female Northern Cardinals.


Cardinals are Opportunistic Omnivores.

Birds classified as omnivores consume both plants and wildlife. Cardinals are voracious eaters, devouring nuts, berries, buds, and insects.

They are often seen consuming birdseed from bird feeders. Additionally, Cardinals leap and forage on the ground, looking for seeds in low-lying shrubs and bushes.

Suet is high-calorie kidney fat derived from sheep or goats, supplies nutrients to cardinals during the year, especially when insects become rare or disappear completely during the winter.

Suet is an excellent substitute for providing energy to cardinals. Additionally, they consume grains such as rice, buckwheat, millet, and bread crumbs.

Northern Cardinals typically perch low in shrubs and trees or forage on or around the ground, often in pairs. They are popular visitors near the bird feeders and can be easily spotted because of their noisy, metallic chirps.


Cardinals are a non-migratory species of pigeon.

Non-migratory birds do not migrate during the winter season. Cardinals are non-migratory species, preferring to stay within a mile of their birthplace. They are drawn to nesting shelves and cardinal feeders, especially those that have an abundance of food.

A hopper bird feeder is the perfect bird feeder for drawing cardinals. They will perch on these feeders as they eat. Male cardinals, despite their vivid red color, can be difficult to find. They like to congregate in thick shrubs, where twisted leaves obscure their feathers.

Cardinals cover themselves with ants, a strange process called anting, which helps them ward off lice by releasing formic acids.

Ants develop protective secretions to ward off predators, and they do not bite. Cardinals can carry an ant in their beaks, extend and lower their wings, and pull their tail up between their knees, wiping the outer wing and tail feathers with the ant.


Cardinals have a lifespan of up to 15 years.


Cardinals are a highly aggressive species.

Male cardinals will protect their territory from potential intruders. They will even attack their own reflections, which is why a male cardinal might have attacked a window or mirror. Though females are sometimes seen doing this as well, males are more likely to strike what they believe is an attacker while they are defending themselves.

During nesting and breeding season, cardinals become severely aggressive to defend their existing environment. Male cardinals are so hot-blooded that they would fight off other male cardinals near their territory, even though they breed near other bird species. Although cardinals are not the biggest wild birds, they are one of the most tenacious ones.

Cardinal sightings are widely believed to be a symbol of good fortune, devotion, or perhaps a divine warning. According to Native American lore, if a cardinal is spotted, the person would experience good fortune within 12 days of the sighting. Cardinals are extraordinarily devoted animals.

If you want to attract these beautiful birds into your backyard for good luck, make sure to have ample space for nesting and a bird feeder. They are absolutely stunning animals, especially if you are into bird watching or photography.

If you ever see one, grab a journal and observe their behaviors; they are quite interesting and can lead to some lengthy conversation at the dinner table.

If you ever see an orange one be sure to take a picture or video.