While the cardinal is a permanent resident throughout North America, its brilliant red plumage contrasted against snow and evergreens makes this bird a hallmark of winter and the holidays. It is such a favorite that it has been designated the official bird of seven of the United States and the mascot of at least fifteen sports teams!
Unlike most other songbirds, both the female and the male cardinal sing. Mated pairs are even known to share parts of songs. The female tends to sing longer songs than does the male. The female also sings from the nest, which may be her way of communicating whether it is safe for the male to come back to the nest with food.
The cardinalís vibrant color comes from pigments in the birdís diet. Unlike some other songbirds with this trait, such as the American goldfinch, the cardinal maintains its color year-round.