Is There a Blue Colored Cardinal Bird?

Do you think you saw a blue cardinal in your backyard? Find out what's going on and the other types of crested birds you may have spotted.

If you spotted a blue colored bird with a head crest in your backyard, you may have wondered if it’s a blue cardinal. While there are rare examples of yellow cardinals and white cardinals with unique plumage found in nature, there is no such thing as a blue cardinal. Here’s a few of the blue and gray bird species that you most likely spotted instead.

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Blue Jay

Shutterstock 136965290Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock
Bird feeder in winter with blue jays, chickadees and cardinals

Loud, boisterous blue jays are larger than cardinals. But both species have a prominent crest of feathers atop their heads and regularly visit backyard bird feeders. While blue jays are expanding their range westward in recent years, in western states, also look for Steller’s jays.

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Blue Grosbeak

275001694 1 Pauline Salazar Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Pauline Salazar
Blue grosbeak

These medium-sized songbirds are in the Cardinalidae bird family, which means they are related to cardinals. Blue grosbeaks have slight head crest, large seed-cracking beaks like cardinals, a small black eye mask and rufous colored wing bars that may appear reddish on a quick glance. This species is typically spotted in southern states during the summer breeding season.

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Tufted Titmouse

252254006 1 Michelle Caccomo Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Michelle Caccomo
Tufted titmouse

These cute, small songbirds are more grayish colored than blue. But the perky head crest, black forehead and peach colored sides could make you mistake a tufted titmouse for a gray or blue cardinal. Watch for these birds at bird feeders in the eastern half of the country.

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Pyrrhuloxia

Male Pyrrhuloxia perched on a branch in South Texas USAJeff R Clow/Getty Images
Pyrrhuloxia in south Texas

Also known as the desert cardinal, the pyrrhuloxia is another medium-sized crested bird that is primarily gray with red accents and a yellow bill. Look for these cardinal-look-alikes in the southwestern states and in Mexico.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for pollinators in her gardens. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.