Cardinalis sinuatus


The Pyrrhuloxias odd name derives from Latin and Greek words meaning "bullfinch with a crooked bill". Similar to the Northern Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia is also known as the "Desert or Gray Cardinal". Pyrrhuloxias feed on seeds and insects. Partial to mesquite thickets, these birds use their strong bills to crush the mesquite beans. Although these birds are shy and difficult to detect, they often respond to squeaking noises made by an observer.


General: 7.5 to 8.5 inches in length.

Adult Male: Overall gray plumage. Red crest, wings, tail, face, and parts of breast. Large, yellow, conical (parrot-like) bill with curved culmen. Long tail.

Adult Female: Brownish-gray upperparts. Gray underparts. Reddish crest, wings and tail. Large, yellow, conical (parrot-like) bill with curved culmen. Long tail.

Juvenile: Similar to adult female, but has dark bill.


Desert brush and mesquite thickets, especially along dry streambeds. Woodland edges.


3-4 white eggs lightly speckled with brown. The eggs have a 14 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 10 days. The nest is an open cup built loosely of grass, twigs, and bark. The nest is built in a dense, thorny bush.

Observed Locations:

  • Superstition mountains, Phoenix, AZ

Click on an image to see the larger version.

Superstition Mountains

Superstition Mountains



Home | References
Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.