Muensch

Is there such a thing as a black cardinal?

42 posts in this topic

At our feeder today there was a bird that was very dark.....all over, as in head, body, wings.  In every other way it looked like a mature male Northern Cardinal, including the orange beak.  We have a lot of cardinals in the neighborhood, and they frequent our feeders.  But we never saw this one before.  Any ideas?

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Where are you located?  A picture would help, too. but the only black cardinal-like bird I can think of is a phainopepla and they are usually found in the Southwest US but they don't have orange beaks.  Did it have a crest?

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I looked phainopepla up online, and by the picture I'd have to say the beak is very different. This bird's beak was very short like a cardinal, and very orange like a cardinal.  Other than that, the phainopepla looks a little similar.  I thought the body of this bird looked a little taller and more thin than the cardinals around, and the feathers seemed a little less dense, but I didn't have a very long observation and my knowledge is very novice.

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Houston, TX.  Sorry, no picture.  Yes, on the crest, and it had a shape like a cardinal's.......ie, not extreme.

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Interesting idea.  I never heard of melanistic, but as I said in another thread, I'm pretty novice on this.  If that's what it is, the pigmentation was very overall.

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you know, I'm in Houston too, and I thought there was a Phainopepla by my house.  this bird looked all black in certain light, but it turned out to be a red vented bulbul upon much closer inspection.

 what part of houston are you in?  in the heights and central houston there is a sizeable colony of these birds.  they are dark with a with tipped tail, and blood red feathers under the tail,  they have a crest and a somewhat short beak, although it's not as conical as the cardinal.  check out the RVB to see if that's your bird

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I'm in SW Houston.....near the sw corner of 610.  I'm not sure I'd recognize a tipped tail if I saw it.  I didn't see any red, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. What I recall of the beak is that it was very conical.  I checked Wikipedia's RVB, and the beak is very different.  I saw him sitting on the perch of our hanging feeder, saw the crest and then he stretched and fluffed his feathers.  Every time he turned his head I got distinct orange from the beak, and it looked conical when he turned a profile.  Only had about a 20 sec viewing.

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My wife saw red under the tail when it flew away, which adds to the RVB possibility, but she also confirms the cardinal beak and size and shape and chirp.

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If you will search WhatBird for Red-Vented Bulbul, you will find GarzaGirrl's pictures from awhile back.

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isn't that illustration a red whiskered bulbul? the red-vented is much darker, almost completely dark all over, and at the end of the tail is white.  the crest is the same though.

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My wife thinks it paid us a return visit today.  The first viewing was in subdued light, and perhaps that effected the viewing.  She said the body and wings were dark brown, but the underbody back toward the tail it was red.  I don't know about white tips on the tail.  It made me wonder if this might be a large-sized female cardinal.  The bulbul pictures still don't match up with the conical beak.  Would love to get a picture of it.

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I did try to contact Muensch, but to let others know, I am new to this sight & I saw the question about a black cardinal while surfing the web looking for an explanation of this picture I took back on June 1, 2007. Not quite sure on how to let people see it on this sight. If anyone has an idea, please let me know!!! Thanks

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Ok, I figured out how everyone can see it....I have set up a galleryL Tam's Backyard zoo...I have it posted there...Let me know what you think???

Thanks,

Tammy:)

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How about a Pyrrhuloxia? That seems to fit the description including the orange bill. From the first description I was thinking female but from your last description from your wife, I'm leaning towards male.

 

This is link to the description from Wikidpedia:

 

And here's the link to Cornell description -the pictures on this site appear darker than the Wikidpedia site giving the birds an almost 'black' look to them:

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Hi: I live on Long Island and have indeed seen a melanistic cardinal. I have no camera to post a photo, but both my mother and I have seen the bird. It's not exactly 'black'...it looks all black from a distance, but up close you can see that it does have very dark red feathers on top around the head, crest and shoulders, only the legs and underside of the body is black...the beak is maroon-ish. It appears to be an adult bird and has only been seen in the company of our other resident cardinals. We can get quite close to the birds by my mom's feeder; I have seen rare birds that shouldn't be in our area before, but unless Phainopepla have very dark red and black where I described, I highly doubt that this is one. Or it could be something altogether different if Sandy blew over some exotic birds. But this is the exact size and form of our eastern cardinals, I find it hard to concieve of it as anything else. I will try to get a friend to take pictures, but we are kind of destroyed at the moment. Thank you for any comments or information you may have about this.

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