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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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.

Next, discover 9 small red bird species you might see.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.