Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hawaii's Cardinals

Cardinal A

Cardinal B 

Welcome back to 2 Different Birds, the popular feature in which we help you step up your amateur birding game by explaining how to tell the difference between two different birds. In this case, I feel like the name is going to give away a lot, so I'll hold off on that for a minute. Today's subjects are a pair of non-native Hawaiian birds with a lot in common. First, they're both called Cardinals, and neither of them actually are (although you can see why someone thought maybe they were). They're tanagers native to South America. The most striking similarity is their distinct coloration pattern, but their shape, size, habitats, and behavior are all pretty much right in line. So what do you think, dear reader, how would you tell these birds apart. I'll give you a minute to think about it...

Have you thought about it? I know you have, I trust you. We here at Amateurnithologist all trust you. You might be thinking that it's that crest, right? The mohawk-style hairdo that only one of these birds appears to be rocking. You would be mostly correct, but actually this crest is not always on display. What else do you have? A minor difference that could help is in the coloration- the dark wings of Cardinal A are darker, almost black, while Cardinal B's dark wings are more of a grey color. There's also a dark triangle on the chest of Cardinal A, where Cardinal B continues to be red there. If you're a longtime Amateurnithologist reader, familiar with our motto "Always get Light on the Feet" you might have already stumbled upon an even more obvious difference. Cardinal A has yellow legs, Cardinal B, grey. Finally, and most helpfully is that beak. Cardinal A has a bright yellow one, and Cardinal B is again, you guessed it, grey. So how did you do, reader? Did you win the game? As always on 2DB, the lesson here is one that can be generalized for even greater bird learning. Pay attention to beaks, as well as legs, because those things are specific colors. Let's close by learning a few things about our Two Different Birds.

Cardinal B is...
Red-crested Cardinal aka. Brazilian Cardinal

Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i, Hawai'i, USA
December 2015
Member of the Tanager Family
§A Season of Tanagers§

~true bird fact~ Introduced to Hawaii in 1928.

Always willing to fight for what he believes in. Like, physically fight. Just likes to fight, really
Not one to let others get in the way of his personal relaxation time
A philanderer

While Cardinal A is revealed to be...

Yellow-billed Cardinal
Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i, Hawai'i, USA
December 2015
Member of the Tanager Family
§A College of Cardinals§

~true bird fact~ A popular caged-bird throughout South America, their population on Hawaii was probably established by escaped pets.

Prim and proper, good manners
Resents being associated with cardinals, who he sees himself as better than
Highly alert to his surroundings

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