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Species Guide
A photo of a Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata)
Red-crested Cardinal

Red-crested Cardinal

Paroaria coronata

The Red-crested Cardinal, Paroaria coronata, is a passerine bird of medium size, belonging to the tanager family Thraupidae. Despite its name, it is not closely related to the true cardinals of the Cardinalidae family. It is sometimes referred to as the Brazilian cardinal, a nod to its vibrant presence in the region.

Identification Tips

Adults of this species are distinguished by their striking red head and crest, which they can raise when excited. The red extends to a bib at the base of the throat. Their underparts are a crisp white, while the back, wings, and tail exhibit a contrasting gray. The wing coverts share this gray hue, but the flight feathers and tail feathers are a darker shade. Juveniles resemble adults but have a more subdued brownish-orange coloration on their head and bib.


The Red-crested Cardinal inhabits subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and areas of heavily degraded former forest. It is often found in proximity to water bodies such as rivers, marshes, and lakes, up to an elevation of 500 meters above sea level.


Originally from Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul, the southern Pantanal, northern Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the Red-crested Cardinal has also been introduced to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Chile. In Brazil, it has expanded its range through introductions to areas like the Tietê Ecological Park in São Paulo.


This bird is typically observed foraging on the ground in pairs or small groups. It has an average lifespan of approximately 3.8 years.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Red-crested Cardinal consists mainly of seeds from various grasses, fruits from trees such as the white mulberry and others, as well as insects and small arthropods.

Conservation status

The Red-crested Cardinal is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of population decline or habitat loss at a global scale.

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Red-crested Cardinals on Birda


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