Pyrrhuloxia, Cardinalis sinuatus (male): Catalina State Park; Tucson, Arizona
The Pyrrhuloxia, a desert species, is a member of the family cardinalidae. It has a similar song and similar behavior to that of the Northern Cardinal, which is a close relative. The range of the Pyrrhuloxia and Northern Cardinal overlap in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The Pyrrhuloxia however prefers upland desert, mesquite savannas, riparian woodlands, and desert scrublands habitat while the Northern Cardinal perfers wetter habitat. Like the Northern Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia has a crest, and is the same size, but there is where the visual simularities end. The Pyrrhuloxia has a pale, thick, curvaceous bill, and its over all color is gray (male) with red in its face, underside, and wings. The female is overall grayish with very little red.
Pyrrhuloxia feed primarily on seeds and insects. They use their strong curved bills to crush mesquite beans, of which they are particularly fond. They lay 3 to 4 white, speckled brown eggs in a loosely woven grass, twig, and bark nest built in thorny buses.
Click this link to hear the call of the Pyrrhuloxia: http://birds.audubon.org/birds/pyrrhuloxia
and this link to learn more about its life history:
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1250 second @ f 8