Essay by dman1525Junior High, 7th gradeA+, October 2004

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The cardinal is a common name for this red bird that lives in North, Central, and South America. Although there are several types of cardinals, the most popular is the northern cardinal, which is found in eastern and southwestern United States. The cardinal's beautiful reddish color and lovely chirping makes it a welcome visitor to backyard feeders. Cardinals can be found in the environment all year round, as they do not migrate. The cardinal is so popular, that is it the state bird for seven states. Cardinals are part of the subfamily Cardinalinae of the family Emberizdae. The northern cardinal is classified as cardinalis cardinalis.

The main type of cardinal is the northern cardinal. The male northern cardinal is bright red, approximately 8-9 inches (20-23 cm), and has a black face, a red bill, and a shiny, red crest. The female northern cardinal is brownish-colored, with red wings, tail, and crest.

The crest of feathers on the cardinals' head can be raised to scare away an enemy. Females are slightly smaller than males. Cardinals have long tails, short, rounded wings, and a conical bill. Cardinals have nine primary feathers. Cardinals replace their feathers when they molt (losing the old feathers) in the later summer and fall. Birds bathe daily by finding some water to splash in, or by brushing against the dewy grass in the morning. The beautiful, brilliant red feathers were once used to decorate women's hats. Cardinals got their name from the red robes worn by the Roman Catholic cardinals. The only other similar birds in North America that are all-red are Tanagers, which lack a crest and black-masked face.

Cardinals are very common throughout the eastern half of North America. Cardinals can be found in southeastern North Dakota, central Minnesota, southern Ontario, central Maine and south...