Monday, 5 March 2012

Desert cardinal

Cardinalis sinuatus

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
desert cardinal (en); cardeal-do-deserto (pt); cardinal gris (fr); cardenal pardo (es); schmalschnabelkardinal (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Cardinalidae

This species is found in the south-western United States and in northern Mexico.

These birds are 21 cm long and weigh 24-43 g.

Desert cardinals are found in desert scrublands and mesquite thickets, often along creek beds.

These birds do most of their foraging on the ground, eating the seeds of bristlegrass, doveweed, sandbur, pancium, sorghum, and pigweed. They also eat cactus fruit and cottonwood catkins and various insects including grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, stinkbugs, and cicadas.

Desert cardinals breed in March-August. The nest is a small cup or bowl, made of grass, twigs or bits of tree bark, placed in the mesquite brush or on the ground against a tree trunk. The female lays 2-4 greyish-white eggs with grey or brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 14 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10 days after hatching, but may only become fully independent 1 month later.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 8 million individuals. The population has undergone a small decline over the last few decades, mostly because of habitat loss due to human development.

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