SPECIES

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Sylvia L. Halkin, Daniel P. Shustack, M. Susan DeVries, Jodie M. Jawor, and Susan U. Linville
Version: 2.0 — Published February 12, 2021

Tables and Appendices

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Appendix 1

Linear measurements (mm) and mass (g) of Northern Cardinals from various populations. Data shown as mean ± SD (range, n).

Measurements of living cardinals:            
Population Southern Indiana (1)

Western Ohio (2)

South-central Wisconsin (1) Southeastern Mississippi (12) Southern Indiana (13 Southern Florida (14)
Source Kinser 1973 (SUL) (SLH) (MSD) (JMJ) R. Anderson, unpublished data
Bill length (3)
Male 12.7 (56)   15.9 ± 1.9 (11.0–18.5, 11)      
Female 12.6 (52)   15.8 ± 2.0 (13.0–19.5, 7)      
Wing length (chord, flattened)
Male 95.2 (150) 94.5 (33) 97.8 ± 3.2 (94.5–105.0, 10)      
Female 92.5 (145) 91.9 (27) 93.2 ± 3.1 (90.0–98.0, 8)      
Wing length (chord, natural curve)
Male       91.29 (83) 94.53 (53) 88.06 (16)
Female       89.11 (109) 92.3 (80)  
Tail length (longest feather)
Male 99.7 (101) 101.6 (33) 104.8 ± 4.7 (98.5–114.0, 12) 99.72 (83)   94 (16)
Female 95.5 (102) 98.2 (27) 96.2 ± 4.6 (87.0–101.0, 10) 96.83 (109)    
Tarsus length
Male     28.3 ± 1.7 (24.0–30.0, 12) 24.2 (83) 24.79 (53)  
Female     27.9 ± 1.7 (25.0–30.0, 10) 23.99 (109) 24.28 (80)  
Mass
Male 47.9 (257) 42.4 (33) 44.6 ± 3.9 (40.0–52.3, 12) 40.45 (88) 46.9 (77) 35.81 (15)
Female 45.5 (218) 42.9 (25) 45.9 ± 3.5 (40.0–51.5, 10) 40.55 (112) 44.1 (52)  
Crest length
Male       30.05 (83) 31.08 (53) 27.7 (16)
Female       28.92 (109) 29.4 (80)  
Study skins of adult males (8)                  
Population 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC, West Virginia, North Carolina New York, Connecticut Pennsylvania, New Jersey Michigan Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky Kansas Florida (6) Texas (9) Arizona (10)
Bill length (11) 12.5 ± 0.5 (64) 12.5 ± 0.6 (15) 12.3 ± 0.6 (30) 12.4 ± 0.5 (29) 12.4 ± 0.5 (43) 12.8 ± 0.7 (22) 12.7 ± 0.6 (145) 13.0 ± 0.6 (127) 13.7 ± 0.5 (37)
Wing length (chord) (12) 94.3 ± 2.5 (64) 95.2 ± 2.7 (15) 93.0 ± 2.7 (30) 93.9 ± 3.3 (30) 94.4 ± 2.3 (43) 94.9 ± 1.8 (22) 89.9 ± 2.4 (146) 91.6 ± 3.5 (129) 100.3 ± 2.5 (38)
Tail length (13) 97.3 ± 3.9 (64) 96.0 ± 5.0 (14) 96.6 ± 4.3 (29) 97.9 ± 4.3 (30) 98.6 ± 4.5 (43) 99.0 ± 4.0 (22) 91.5 ± 3.8 (144) 96.4 ± 4.4 (128) 109.8 ± 6.1 (38)
Tarsus (14) 24.2 ± 1.0 (63) 24.2 ± 1.4 (15) 23.7 ± 0.6 (30) 23.9 ± 1.0 (30) 24.4 ± 0.8 (43) 24.7 ± 0.7 (22) 24.5 ± 0.9 (146) 24.6 ± 0.8 (129) 27.0 ± 0.7 (38)
Study skins of both sexes, mix of locations  (15)    
Sex Adult males (n = 31) Adult females (n = 37)
Culmen from base 19.05 (18.03–20.32) 18.80 (16.51–20.32)
Bill depth at base 15.49 (14.99–17.53) 15.24 (13.97–15.75)
Mandible width at base 12.19 (10.92–12.95) 12.45 (11.43–13.21)
Wing length (16) 94.23 (91.44–99.82) 90.93 (88.39–96.01)
Tail length (longest feather) 104.14 (96.01–110.49) 99.57 (93.98–107.19)
Tarsus 24.64 (22.86–25.91) 24.38 (22.86–25.65)
Middle toe 17.02 (15.24–18.03) 16.76 (15.49–17.78)
Length before skinning ~222.00–235.00 ~209.50–216.00

(1) Measurements taken January to May.

(2) Measurements taken throughout year.

(3) Measurements taken December to February, following completion of molt.

(4) Measurements taken May–July.

(5) Measurements taken in March before breeding.

(6) Subspecies C. c. floridanus.

(7) In southern Indiana (Kinser data), culmen; in western Ohio, anterior edge of nasal fossa to bill-tip; in south-central Wisconsin, exposed culmen.

(8) Study skins of specimens collected 15 Feb–14 May, measured by William E. Cook (unpublished); specimens from American Museum of Natural History, New York City, New York; Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbia-Greene Community College Museum, Hudson, New York; Connecticut State Museum, Storrs, Connecticut; Cornell University Division of Biological Sciences, Ithaca, New York; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois; University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Ann Arbor, Michigan; National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC; New York State Museum, Albany, New York; Rochester Museum of Science, Rochester, New York; and Yale Peabody Museum, New Haven, Connecticut. Student t-tests were used by Cook to compare mean measurements from different populations. C. c. superbus is significantly larger than C. c. canicaudus, C. c. cardinalis, or C. c. floridanus on the basis of all four characteristics measured. C. c. floridanus has significantly shorter wing and tail than C. c. superbus, C. c. canicaudus, or C. c. cardinalis. C. c. canicaudus wing significantly shorter than that of C. c. superbus or C. c. cardinalis, significantly longer than that of C. c. floridanus. Differences between populations of C. c. cardinalis may indicate clinal variation in this subspecies.

(9) Subspecies C. c. canicaudus.

(10) Subspecies C. c. superbus.

(11) Anterior edge of nasal fossa to bill-tip; population 9 significantly different (p < 0.001) from all others; population 8 significantly different (p < 0.01) from all but population 6; population 7 significantly different (p < 0.01) from all but populations 2 and 6; population 6 significantly different (p < 0.02) from all but populations 2, 7, and 8.

(12) Wing unflattened; populations 7, 8, and 9 significantly different (p < 0.03) from one another and from all others; population 3 significantly different (p < 0.03) from all but population 4.

(13) Populations 7 and 9 significantly different (p < 0.001) from one another and from all others; population 8 significantly different (p < 0.01) from all but populations 1, 2, 3, and 4; population 6 significantly different (p < 0.05) from all but populations 1, 2, 4, and 5.

(14) Population 9 significantly different (p < 0.001) from all others; population 3 significantly different (p < 0.01) from all but populations 2 and 4; population 1 significantly different (p < 0.05) from all but populations 2, 4, and 5; population 7 significantly different (p < 0.05) from all but populations 2, 5, 6, and 8; population 8 significantly different (p < 0.02) from all but populations 2, 5, 6, and 7; population 6 significantly different (p < 0.03) from all but populations 2, 5, 7, and 8; population 5 significantly different (p < 0.03) from populations 3, 4, and 9.

(15) Data from Storer 1952a: males from "Pennsylvania to Virginia" (13), South Carolina and Georgia (4), and "Mississippi Valley" (14); females from "Pennsylvania to Virginia" (22), South Carolina and Georgia (2), and "Mississippi Valley" (13).

(16) Wing length measur

Appendix 2

Reproductive success of Northern Cardinal in various parts of its range. See footnotes for differences in methodology that may account for some apparent differences in reproductive success.

Location (n= number of nests) Number eggs/ nest Number hatch/ nest Number fledge/ nest % eggs hatched % nestlings fledged % nests with 1 hatchling % nests with 1 fledgling Number young fledged/pair/yr
Southern Ontario (n = 60) (1) 2.38 (2) 0.88 0.55 37 62   25 2.54 (3)
Southern Indiana (n = 124) (4) 2.61 (5) 0.87 0.46 33 53   18 2.00 (6)
Central Iowa (n = 46) (7)       23 33 32 16  
Southwestern Ohio (n = 121) (8)           27 15  
Northwestern Arkansas (n = 51) (9) 2.27 ± 0.90 SD 1.3 ± 1.2 SD 0.80 ± 0.46 SD 58 61   37 2.05 ± 1.99 SD

(1)Lemon 1957; 1955 and 1956 breeding seasons, university campus. Nests discovered before egg-laying began. Success calculations include nest construction and egg-laying periods; data include 3 nests in which no cardinal eggs were found (they were abandoned after cowbirds laid eggs there before cardinals did), 1 nest destroyed by researcher during egg-laying period, and 3 nests destroyed by researcher during nestling period.

(2)Average clutch size of 3.1 ± 0.50 SD (range 2–4, n = 31 nests) separately reported.

(3)n = 6 pairs in 1955, 7 pairs in 1956, likely some same as 1955 pairs; mix of banded and unbanded birds. On basis of many more years of data, 2.8 young fledged/female/yr in this population (D. M. Scott and R. E. Lemon, unpublished data).

(4)Kinser 1973; 1964, 1965, and 1966 breeding seasons, successional fields. Data include only nests discovered with ≥1 cardinal egg before incubation began; success calculations include egg-laying period, although some eggs may have disappeared before nests were discovered.

(5)Average clutch size of 2.64 ± 0.49 SD (range 1–3, n = 90 nests from 1965 and 1966) separately reported.

(6)n = 8 pairs in 1965, 15 pairs in 1966, likely some same as 1965 pairs; most birds banded.

(7)Best and Stauffer 1980; mid-April–mid-July 1976 and 1977, varied riparian habitats. Data include nests found throughout nesting cycle; success calculated from start of incubation using Mayfield’s (Mayfield 1975a) exposure method.

(8)Filliater et al. 1994; April–August 1991 and 1992, varied rural habitats. Data include nests found throughout nesting cycle; success rate of 68% for nest construction and egg-laying period, 39% for incubation period, and 57% for nestling period, calculated as recommended by Mayfield (Mayfield 1975a).

(9)Mobley 1994; late March–31 August 1990, 1991, and 1992, varied rural habitat and university campus. n = 20 pairs over 3 yr, likely with some overlap in membership (mix of banded and unbanded birds). Data include nests found throughout nesting cycle with ≥1 cardinal egg or nestling; success calculated from start of egg-laying, and may be overestimated because some eggs or nestlings may have disappeared before nests were discovered (Mayfield 1975a).

Recommended Citation

Halkin, S. L., D. P. Shustack, M. S. DeVries, J. M. Jawor, and S. U. Linville (2021). Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.norcar.02