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Mannybear

Palm Harbor, FL female Cardinal look-alike?

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I have a cylinder-shaped bird feeder with food that I fill in columns (black sunflower mix, safflower, peanut, meal worms). It is located in my back yard which is about 20 feet from a wooded nature preserve. Among the birds that frequent the feeder, we see many male and female Cardinals.

About a week or so ago (~ 5/1/20), we noticed a bird that looks very similar to a female Cardinal but with the following exceptions:

  1. Beak is pointier.
  2. Eyeball is larger.
  3. Crest is not as pointy as Cardinal - disheveled like "Don King's" hair.

We only notice it at the feeder around 3 pm and again around 7 pm (the Cardinal's come and go throughout the day).

Thank you for your help!

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Is the color exactly the same as a female cardinal (tan-ish body with red wings, tail, and crest, gray mask, and orange beak)?

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Yes, as far as we can tell.  It is a bit backlit when we are viewing. It is much more shy than the cardinals tho.

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Posted (edited)

Then I'd guess that it is a cardinal that is maybe missing some feathers.  If you can get a photo, we would probably be able to confirm.  Even poor cellphone photos can be very helpful.

Edited by The Bird Nuts

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Don't have any great pics.  This is one of the best. The beak shape is more pointed and slightly curved.  Also crest looks more unkept and not so pointy like cardinal.  Stays at the feeder for much longer than cardinals (they come and go).  This bird is more shy than cardinal.  Summarizing, it looks very cardinal-like but doesn't act like one.

0509201652d.jpg

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 It is just a Northern Cardinal. Maybe a young individual?

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Kevin said:

 It is just a Northern Cardinal. Maybe a young individual?

The orange bill says adult.  Maybe something missing from the diet when the feathers came in?

"Just" a Nothern Cardinal???   "Just"?????  :classic_blink:

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Posted (edited)

I agree with Northern Cardinal.  I think it might be a young female as well.  The beak isn't that bright of an orange.

Edited by The Bird Nuts

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39 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

The beak isn't that bright of an orange.

I attributed that to the screen door.  Either way, the consensus seems to be female Northern Cardinal.

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3 minutes ago, von Humboldt said:

Female Cardinal with feather mites. 

Hey, I had a 'Like' left!  How did that happen?

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Just now, Charlie Spencer said:

Hey, I had a 'Like' left!  How did that happen?

They most have refreshed in the last few minutes, because I did not have any a till about 15 minutes ago.

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4 hours ago, Kevin said:

They most have refreshed in the last few minutes, because I did not have any a till about 15 minutes ago.

Check out male Pyrrhuloxia; I was just looking at that before I saw your post! Maybe you have one of those out of its normal geographic range! They have a curved culmen.  Could possibly be with the changes in weather patterns/storms.

 

19 hours ago, Mannybear said:

Don't have any great pics.  This is one of the best. The beak shape is more pointed and slightly curved.  Also crest looks more unkept and not so pointy like cardinal.  Stays at the feeder for much longer than cardinals (they come and go).  This bird is more shy than cardinal.  Summarizing, it looks very cardinal-like but doesn't act like one.

0509201652d.jpg

 

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17 hours ago, Andreaoutdoors said:

Check out male Pyrrhuloxia; I was just looking at that before I saw your post! Maybe you have one of those out of its normal geographic range! They have a curved culmen.  Could possibly be with the changes in weather patterns/storms.

 

 

While Pyrhuloxia are much drabber than Cardinals,

1:They aren't migratory, so it's basically impossible for one to show up in Florida

2. It would have a yellow bill.

 

Also, many ID features previously pointed out help differentiate Cardinal from Pyhurloxia

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I Agree with a female cardinal probably has feather mights or was missing something in its diet when its feathers came in

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Thank you all for your comments.  Several comments suggest mites cause feather issues, which I understand. What causes the beak to be so different from a cardinal? Also, we see several species of birds at the feeder throughout the day (including cardinals) but the "ufb" only shows at 3pm and sometimes again at 7pm.  Stays at the feeder much longer than any cardinals, also much more skiddish than other cardinals.  Attaching another pic which shows the beak variance.  Going to put the camera in different location tomorrow for better lighting.

IM_00075.JPG

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It may be that other Cardinals are also using the feeder at a particular time of day, but you do not realize it because they are not distinctive looking. Birds tend to be creatures of habit when they have safe habitat and a food source. Mites are fairly common in Cardinals and their head is apparently a vulnerable area as I've seen several that were nearly bald during my life. If it continues to regularly come to your feeder you'll probably notice that the feathers grow in over the next several months even if it's not the time of year for a molt..

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