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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Pyrrhuloxia -- Cardinalis sinuatus


RANGE: Resident from Baja California, south-central and southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and southern and western Texas south to central Mexico.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Generally lives yearlong in thorny thickets, especially at the edges of mesquite along desert arroyos, in thorny shrubs at lower, wide mouths of mountain canyons, and in thickets along streams. In winter, often wanders from thickets to feed in flocks along roads, fencerows, and borders of fields.

NEST: Builds a compact nest, usually low (3 to 8 feet above the ground), in a thorny shrub or tree, or in a clump of mistletoe.

FOOD: Gleans most of its food from the ground. During the winter, eats cactus fruits, seeds of grasses, weeds, and mesquite, and catkins of cottonwood. In summer, also eats insects.

REFERENCES: Harrison 1979, Oberholser 1974b, Terres 1980.


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