Fun Yellow Cardinal Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Oct 20, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read these interesting yellow Cardinal facts to learn more about this beautiful bird which is unfortunately at threat due to habitat loss and pet trading.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

The yellow northern cardinal is regarded as a one in a million bird species found primarily in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Alabama. Sightings of this bird are regarded as extremely rare. However, this rare bird was made famous all over national news due to a photo shot by Jeremy Black. The photo's story is that Charlie Stephenson found an unusual bird in her backyard, with bright yellow plumage instead of its usual red feathers, and thus asked her friend Jeremy Black to take the photo that made it a national sensation. Charlie later consulted Geoffrey Hill about the photo, a professional ornithologist at Auburn University, who told her that its color was due to a rare genetic mutation that affects the bird's red pigments. This genetic mutation resulting in the changing of the pigment of their body was associated with the food they are, which in turn turned their feathers red, orange, and yellow. This condition is called xanthochroism, a mutation that also occurs in house finches and evening grosbeaks.

If you liked reading this, you could also read our cardinal facts and red-crested cardinal facts.

Yellow Cardinal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is the yellow cardinal?

This bird is definitely a one in a million bird! Though the majority of these birds have been spotted in Florida, they have also been seen in a few other places in North and South America. This bird can be recognized by its bright yellow plumage.

What class of animal does a yellow cardinal belong to?

The yellow cardinal belongs to the class of Aves.

How many yellow cardinals are there in the world?

There have been 10-12 yellow cardinals in the U.S and eastern Canada who visit throughout the year. It is estimated, according to studies and popular research into cardinals, that the population of yellow cardinals is around 1000-2000, which is very rare, and they are considered to be an Endangered species.

Where does a yellow cardinal live?

Geoffrey Hill, a professional who studies bird pigmentation, received the photos of the rare yellow cardinal whose sighting was in a backyard bird feeder in Illinois, confirmed that it was a male cardinal with rare yellow pigments is due to a rare genetic mutation that results in a failure to convert the pigment known as carotenoids when the cardinal birds feed on insects. As mentioned above, because of the rarity of these birds, it is hard to confirm where they live.

What is a yellow cardinal habitat?

According to Geoffrey Hill, sightings of yellow cardinals are incredibly rare, with less than one in a million chances, as it is hard to zero in on one kind of habitat. It has been reported that these birds have been sighted in Alabama, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. We'd like to reiterate, these sightings are rare! They have also been spotted in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. The yellow cardinal has gone through a significant population decrease due to illegal practices.

Who does the yellow cardinal live with?

Cardinals are not spotted using their nests more than once. The female bird's nests are like a cup, and their nests could be found among the wildlife, probably well concealed in a wild shrub or a low tree. The nest is made up of thin twigs, grass, or other plant fibers.

How long does a yellow cardinal live?

The average lifespan of cardinal birds is of a year, as they are known to have a mortality rate of juveniles, which means these birds die sooner. Northern cardinal birds can live up to three years if they are among in their wild, natural habitat, and some birds can even live up to 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Cardinals are monogamous, which means the female and male cardinal will have one mate for life. A cup-shaped nest is built by the female birds, with male birds helping them out. The female cardinals can lay three to four eggs during October. They then incubate the eggs for 12-13 days. Both the parents feed their chicks, and the young fledge their nest after two to three months.

What is their conservation status?

Like the northern cardinals, they are classified as an Endangered species. The numbers related to them are reducing in the wild. Even though they have been spotted recently in places like Alabama, Florida, and Illinois, it's still rare. Yellow Cardinals are rare due to the fact they are under threat which is a pity as they are beautiful due to the rare genetic mutation that gives them a yellow coloration.

Yellow Cardinal Fun Facts

What do yellow cardinals look like?

The yellow cardinal has a tiny black crest on its head

The plumage coloration of cardinals is usually red, but the rare yellow coloration has been spotted. The first sighting of this rare bird happened in Illinois in the backyard bird feeder of a couple's house. The coloration of this rare bird is due to the genetic mutation in their pigments in carotenoids which come from some insects and plants. They have few black markings on their body, and also they have a tiny black crest that is quite adorable!

How cute are they?

They are truly beautiful creatures that are really bright and pretty to look at. Unfortunately, this is also why they were caught by bird traders, which has resulted in their sudden decline.

How do they communicate?

Cardinals use songs and body signals to communicate with each other. Both males and females sing loud and beautiful chirping sounds like talking to each other; this is also used as an alarm.

How big is a yellow cardinal?

It is estimated that the average length of the yellow northern cardinal ranges from 8.3-9.3 in (21-23.5 cm), and their wingspan range is from 9.8-12.2 in (25-31 cm). They are small birds that are easy to tame, though caging them is illegal in the USA.

How fast can a yellow cardinal fly?

On average, the yellow cardinal can fly at the rate of 20-30 mph (32.18-42.8), just like the other cardinals.

How much does a yellow cardinal weigh?

The weight of yellow cardinal ranges from 1.19-2.29 oz (33-65 gm). They are a very lightweight bird species.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Yellow cardinals have no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby yellow cardinal?

The baby is called a juvenile or a chick.

What do they eat?

Cardinals are not picky eaters. They eat fruits, seeds, and insects. Yellow cardinals are just normal cardinals who have present with a change in coloration due to a genetic mutation which results in color change in respect to the food they eat. It explains why these birds are limited because they don't exist as a different species it's just the mutation and their health disorder.

Are they dangerous?

Yellow cardinals are not dangerous. They may bite when they are threatened, which is a common defense tactic every animal employs.

Would they make a good pet?

They would not make for good pets as they belong solely in the wild, in their natural habitat. A primary reason as to why they are endangered is because of bird catchers and illegal trading.

Did you know...

This wild species of bird is illegal to keep as a pet in the USA. They are also very popular birds in Europe because of their bright plumage and very sweet songs. They have an active and inquisitive nature, which perhaps is why they get along so well with humans, resulting in their ultimate taming. Feeding them is also pretty easy as they love to eat grains, seeds, and fruits.

What month do Cardinals lay eggs?

The bird builds its nest when the breeding season starts. This season goes on from March to as late as September. During that time, the female yellow cardinal lays her eggs.

Do cardinals recognize humans?

Some studies suggest that birds can recognize the humans they have to interact with. They can recognize faces and even differentiate between voices! This could also allow them to protect themselves from potential danger.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our sanderling facts and common nighthawk facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable yellow cardinal coloring pages.

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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