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North Carolina State BirdNorth Carolina State Bird - Cardinal

Cardinal aka Winter Redbird

(Cardinalis cardinalis)

Adopted on March 4, 1943.

The Cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis,) was selected by popular choice as North Carolina State Bird on March 4, 1943. (Session Laws, 1943. c. 595; G.S. 145-2).

The northern cardinal is also the state bird for six other states. These are Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

North Carolina State Bird

North Carolina State Bird - CardinalThe Cardinal is sometimes called the Winter Redbird because it is most noticeable during the winter when it is the only "redbird" present. A year-round resident of North Carolina, the Cardinal is one of the most common birds in our gardens, meadows, and woodlands. The male Cardinal is red all over, except for the area of its throat and the region around its bill which is black; it is about the size of a Catbird only with a longer tail. The head is conspicuously crested and the large stout bill is red. The female is much duller in color with the red confined mostly to the crest, wings, and tail. This difference in coloring is common among many birds. Since it is the female that sits on the nest, her coloring must blend more with her natural surroundings to protect her eggs and young from predators. There are no seasonal changes in her plumage.

The Cardinal is a fine singer, and what is unusual is that the female sings as beautifully as the male. The male generally monopolizes the art of song in the bird world.

The nest of the Cardinal is rather an untidy affair built of weed stems, grass and similar materials in low shrubs, small trees or bunches of briars, generally not over four feet above the ground. The usual number of eggs set is three in this State and four further North. Possibly the Cardinal raises an extra brood down here to make up the difference, or possibly the population is more easily maintained here by the more moderate winters compared to the colder North.

The Cardinal is by nature a seed eater, but he does not dislike small fruits and insects.

Senate Bill S. B. 151 CHAPTER 595


WHEREAS, North Carolina and Connecticut are the only states in the Union that have not adopted an official state bird; and

WHEREAS, there is a wide-spread movement now on foot among the Bird Clubs, Garden Clubs, and many of the schools of the State, together with a large number of individuals, looking to the adoption of a state bird by the present Legislature, to which end the North Carolina Bird Club has, so far as it has been in its power, canvassed the State for votes on the selection of a suitable representative bird to be officially adopted; and

WHEREAS, the Cardinal has received a decidedly larger number of votes than any other species: Now, therefore:

The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:

Section 1. That the Cardinal shall be, and hereby is declared to be the official State Bird of North Carolina.

Sec. 2. All laws and clauses of laws in conflict with this Act are hereby repealed.

Sec. 3. This Act shall be in full force and effect from and after its ratification.
Ratified this the 8th day of March, 1943.

The North Carolina General Statutes

Chapter 145: State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.
SECTION 145-2.

145-2. State bird.
The cardinal is hereby declared to be the official State bird of North Carolina. (1943, c. 595.)

Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Cardinal

KingdomAnimalia -- animals
Phylum Chordata -- chordates
Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
Class Aves -- birds
Order Passeriformes -- perching birds
Family Fringillidae -- buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows
Genus Cardinalis Bonaparte, 1838 -- cardinals
Species Cardinalis cardinalis (Linnaeus, 1758) -- Cardenal rojo, northern cardinal
Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:  Bird selected (as by the legislature) as an emblem of a state of the United States.