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Yellow-billed Cardinal Paroaria capitata


The various species in this genus of cardinals are actually tanager-finches, quite distantly related from the true cardinals in the family Cardinalidae. Yellow-billed Cardinal is not a crested species, so other than having red on the head, there is nothing very cardinal-like about it at all. It is a very striking species though! The head is bright red, turning black on the throat, making it look like it has a black bib. As the name states, the bill is yellow, almost orange in fact and about the same color as the legs. The underparts are white and the upperparts blackish, and these are separated by a white half collar from the red head. This cardinal is a species of streamside vegetation, being found also around lakes and swamps and often feeding right from the water’s edge. Where it overlaps with the larger Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata), Red-crested takes habitats in drier and shrubbier habitats, while Yellow-billed is more of the wetland species. However, they both overlap to some extent. The bright coloration and nice song has made them a prime candidate as a cage bird, through parts of Argentina and southern Brazil. It has been successfully introduced to several of the larger islands in Hawaii!

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© Natxo Areta

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: