While most people can identify a male Northern Cardinal with his bright red plumage, black mask, and red crest, the female of the species can be more difficult to identify, especially when in Pyrruloixa territory. So, how do you tell them apart? Well, as seen above, the male Pyrrhuloxia is not red all over. The red is confined to certain areas of the body. The Phyrruloxia, whether male or female, does not have a black mask. Pyrrhuloxias have a short, stubby yellow beak. Cardinals have a red conical shaped beak, though the female cardinal's can appear reddish-orange.
If you look at the photos above, you can see the difference between a male Pyrrhuloxia and a female cardinal. Though it isn't very dark the female cardinal still has a hint of the black mask around her beak. Notice how her beak is also longer, reddish, and more cone shaped. You can clearly see the yellow stubby beak of the male Pyrrhuloxia here. As an interesting point, the Cardinal Symbol used by the Superbowl challengers Arizona Cardinals have it all wrong. If you look at the Symbol they use, their Cardinal is depicted with a Yellow beak. Another case of Art trumps reality!
I had not seen a phyrrhuloxia yet this year but I knew they were resident here in Sycamore Canyon. On Thursday I went hiking in the wash with some new birders I met. (Come back for My World Tuesday to read about this hike) We did see one out in the wash, but it flew down behind some brush before I could capture a photo of it. I was sorely disappointed but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. Later, when I was back at home uploading my bird count into eBird I looked up to see a Pyrrhuloxia right outside my window in the bird feeder. I quickly grabbed the camera off the desk and starting snapping, but the bird was in the shadow and inside the bird feeder. Those shots aren't worth publishing here, but then, to my surprise and delight, this gorgeous male hopped out onto the fence in the sunlight and I was able to snap off several shots before he flew away.
Big January Update: 107: Pyrrhuloxia