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.
Distribution and HabitatThe 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.
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. Red-crested cardinals generally search for seeds and small arthropods on or near the ground.
Mating and Reproduction
The Red-Crested cardinal breeding season is between October and November of each year. 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. A female cardinal lays 2-5 eggs per breeding season which hatch within 12-13 days of incubation.  Juveniles leave their nest 2-3 weeks after hatching.