Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)


French: Cardinal pyrrhuloxia German: Schmalschnabelkardinal Spanish: Cardenal pardo

Cardinalis sinuatus


, 1838,

western part of Mexico (Zacatecas)


Formerly placed in Pyrrhuloxia, mainly on account of its unique bill shape, very different from that of C. cardinalis; intermediate bill of C. phoeniceus, however, as well as other arguments, has resulted in its return to present genus. One documented example of a wild-bred hybrid between present species and C. cardinalis, and hybridization in captivity reported. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. fulvescens (van Rossem, 1934) – S USA (S Arizona) and NW Mexico (Sonora, Sinaloa and W Durango S to N Nayarit).
  • C. s. peninsulae (Ridgway, 1887) – extreme NW Mexico (Baja California S from c. 27° N).
  • C. s. sinuatus Bonaparte, 1838 – S USA (S New Mexico E to SE & C Texas) and S in C highlands and E lowlands of Mexico to NE Jalisco, N Michoacán, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–21·5 cm; male 30·1–44·2 g, females 24·4–43·2 g (Arizona). Has distinctive bill, with upper mandible short, thick and... read more


    Song a series of whistles, usually of one syllable, sometimes more, “cheewee, cheewee”... read more


    Arid brushland, including mesquite (Prosopis) savanna, riparian woodland, various types of... read more

    Food and feeding

    In one study in Texas (USA) involving stomach contents, food c. 70% vegetable matter, 30% animal matter. Much of vegetable matter was seeds... read more


    Eggs Mar–Aug in Texas and to Sept in Arizona, in both cases majority in May; apparently predominantly single-brooded, but some cases... read more


    Resident; may wander locally outside breeding season, but no ringing recoveries of more than 20 km... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Quite common in suitable habitat in USA; uncommon to fairly common in Mexico. Densities in Texas 10–80 individuals/40 ha, in Arizona, 6–8... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2019). Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 June 2019).