Cardinal Bird, Or Cardinal Grosbeak, a bird of the finch family (cardinalis Virginianus, Bonap.). It has a very large bill, moderate wings, and a graduated tail longer than the wings; the length is 8 1/2 inches; the bill red; the crown surmounted by a flattened erectile crest, about an inch long; the general color bright vermilion red, darkest on the back, rump, and tail; a narrow band around the base of the bill, the chin, and upper part of the throat, black. The female is light olive above, with a yellowish tinge on the head, and brownish yellow below and on the sides; the tail, wings, and crest have a dull red color. It is found in the southern states as far west as Missouri, and probably along the Rio Grande to the Rocky mountains. This is one of our most highly prized cage birds, on account of its color, vivacity, strength and variety of song, and ease of keeping; numbers have been carried to Europe, and in England they are called Virginia nightingales, a name to which Latham says they are fully entitled from the clearness and excellence of their notes; they sing from March to September, and are said by Wilson to be most lively in wet weather; they are often called red birds.
The males when confined together fight violently, and will try to attack their own images reflected in a mirror; the females are often nearly as good singers as the males. Their food consists chiefly of maize, and the seeds of various fruits; they are said to destroy bees. There are other species of these beautiful songsters in Central America and in the northern parts of South America. The nests are made of twigs, weeds, and vines, lined with finer materials, and are placed in a holly or laurel bush; the eggs are four, of a dull white color, with numerous markings of brownish olive.
Cardinal Bird (Cardinalis Virginianus).