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Red-crested Cardinal
Background information
Taxonomy Birds (Aves)
Status Least Concern
Range South America
Habitat Rainforest
Feathers, fur Gray Body
White Chest
Red Head

Red-crested cardinals are birds native to Brazil. Contrary to their name, they are not closely related to true cardinals (Cardinalidae) such as the widely-recognized northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Rather, red-crested cardinals are classified as tanagers (Thraupidae). Pedro, a supporting character in Rio and Rio 2, is a red-crested cardinal.


The Red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata), as the name suggests, gets its common name from its distinctive red head with a prominent crest. Adults' average body size is around 7.5 in (19.05 cm) with dark grey dorsal plumage, a white neck and underparts, and a bright red head, crest, and upper breast. Their bills are silver-grey and their legs are dark grey. Juveniles appear very similar to adults but instead feature an orange head crest and upper breast.[1]

Distribution and Habitat

Red-Crested Cardinal Distribution Area

The Red-crested cardinal is found throughout the mid-section of South America, covering southeastern Brazil, eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. In the wild, they inhabit semi-open environments with scattered trees and shrubbery, especially near water. The species was also introduced to the Hawaiian Islands around 1930.[1]

Social Interaction

Non-breeding Season

Red-Crested cardinals are often found in pairs[1], small family groups[1] or even large flocks[2]

Breeding Season

During the annual breeding season, birds stay exclusively in pairs. Male and female will maintain continuous contact through vocalizations.

Feeding and Diet

Red-crested cardinals mainly feed on plant seeds, fruits, berries, and insects. Known insects that they feed upon include waxworms, mealworms, small crickets.[2] Red-crested cardinals generally search for seeds and small arthropods on or near the ground.[3]

Mating and Reproduction

The Red-Crested cardinal breeding season is between October and November of each year.[2] After mating, a pair will collaborate with nest-building using small organic materials such as sticks, pine needles and pliable twigs, finalized by hemp string cut into 2 inches lengths and unraveled scattered about the flight.[2] A female cardinal lays 2-5 eggs per breeding season which hatch within 12-13 days of incubation. [1] Juveniles leave their nest 2-3 weeks after hatching.[2]


Real Life


Rio 2


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Red-Crested Cardinal
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 [ Biological Profile – Red-crested Cardinal Paroaria coronata, (Miller, 1776) by Josef Lindholm, Cameron Park Zoo]
  3. Overview - Red-crested Cardinal