Bio Facts: Cardinal, Red-capped
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela; Vagrant: French Guiana
Swamps, mangrove, Várzea (a type of seasonally flooded forest/woodland growing along rivers in the Amazon) and other semi-open areas near water
Adult length: 6.5 in (16.5 cm); adult weight: 0.78 oz (22 g); appearance & coloration: crimson head, blackish lores and ocular region, and shiny black upperparts, apart from a white partial collar extending up the neck sides from the white underparts. The throat is black, extending to a point on the upper chest. The upper mandible is black, while the lower is pale flesh-colored. The legs are dark grey (almost black) and the iris is brownish-orange. In pattern the juvenile resemble the adults, but the upperparts are dusky-brown, the head is deep brownish-buff (darker on the cap), the bill is entirely black and the iris is pale, dull creamy-yellow.
Up to 15 years
About 1 year
In the wild, they eat insects, rice and fruits; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available low iron, pelleted softbill diet, a variety of fruits, insects and hard-boiled eggs.
IUCN – Least Concern
The song is a variable, often repeated series of suweet-chu notes, and the call is a sharp chep.
If there is a well-marked breeding season, it extends over much of the year. The red-capped cardinal has been recorded to breed at least from June to September in northern South America but at Sacha Lodge at the Napo River (Ecuador) an adult was seen feeding a fledgling shiny cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis), a brood parasite of the red-capped cardinal, in late March. This suggests that breeding can also occur as early as February/March. There is no indication for a difference in breeding seasons between the red-capped and the masked cardinals.
Pairs build a shallow open cup nest, some 9–10 cm wide and 7 cm high outside with a 7 cm wide by 4 cm deep cup, in a tree or some other secure spot. For nest material, it uses rootlets, thin twigs, and ferns. The clutch of 2 – 3 eggs are whitish and dull olive with dense dark brown flecks and blotches, heavier at the blunt end. They measure about 21-22 by 16 mm.
This species strong conical beak is well adapted for cracking seeds, and its sturdy legs are adapted for perching. Its large feet also allow it to walk on floating vegetation as it feeds in wet areas.
The genus Paroaria, the red-headed cardinals or cardinal-tanagers is a genus of tanagers. Species in this genus were until recently placed in the family Emberizidae, which features buntings, sparrows, juncos, towhees, and longspurs.
Five or six species are placed here, and they resemble a Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis, a true Cardinalidae), although they are somewhat more slender and their beak is more tanager-like.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
The red-capped cardinal has been part of the Jacksonville Zoo’s animal collection since 2004. The Jacksonville Zoo has successfully bred this species.