Are There Blue Cardinals?

are there blue cardinals

Cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds around and are known to delight birdwatchers from all over the world. 


Since so many love these exciting feathered friends, it comes as no surprise that there is quite a lot of dialogue about them online. Many people are known to spend time sharing their bird encounters with other avid birdwatchers, but the cardinal has been known to spur a great many discussions surrounding the cardinals around North America.


 One common cause for discussion is the debate about the rumored blue cardinal. In this article, we will discuss the truth about the blue cardinal that people from all over seem to be spotting.

Table of Contents

Are There Blue Cardinals?

What Do Birdwatchers Report?

Time and time again, birdwatchers from all over are known to share in discussions about the so-called blue cardinal. These birds are known to generate quite a lot of talk specifically because a quick internet search will reveal that no bird by that name actually exists. 


Since this is the case, you can imagine how people feel. There are people who insist that there is no such bird and a wide collection of people who claim to have seen this mysterious bird. So, who is right?

The Blue Cardinal Does Not Exist

The fact is that there is no such thing as the blue cardinal. A blue cardinal does not exist by this name, or by any other. The fact is that you will not spot a fully blue cardinal because it would take a very long period of evolution to make such a thing even possible given the current appearance of existing cardinals. 


With this in mind, it can leave you wondering, why, then, are so many people are convinced that this mysterious bird exists? Is this simply the bigfoot of the birdwatching community?

Understanding the Rationale Behind This Confusion

In order to understand the rumors surrounding a blue cardinal, it is important to recognize that many things can start a rumor. If there is one thing that we know surrounding controversial sightings, it is that there is often a reason for them. In most instances, these kinds of beliefs have some sort of distinct cause of origin behind them. 


More often than not, rumors of this nature are from misinterpretations of certain sightings. Many different sightings might lead to the belief that such a bird exists.

Confusing Another Bird For A Cardinal

One of the most likely reasons behind the belief in a blue cardinal is that people are simply confusing another bird with a supposed blue cardinal. Birds are known to come in many different forms, but they are also easy to mix up. There are a surprising number of birds that are easily confused for other birds. 


In fact, in several instances, there are some birds that you must read into the context to determine their type simply because they look so much like another bird. Some birds are even known to change dramatically in appearance throughout their lives. When they are young, they might not look anything like their adult form. This makes it even easier to misinterpret a sighting, particularly from a distance.

Cardinals In Specific Lighting

Though cardinals might not come in blue specifically, they are known to come in several other colors. Though most cardinals have prominent red coloring, some have other colors in their feathers as well. Colors like gray and tan are easily altered with a little context. 


What you think might be a blue cardinal might actually be a cardinal with a specific tint because of the shade in an area. Color is largely influenced by light and angle, particularly where feathers are involved. This makes it fairly easy for birds to appear as if they are a different color completely in certain lighting. It is possible that some people are seeing a cardinal that is in fact blue, but it is only blue because of where it is standing at that moment.

The Blue Cardinal Rumor

Rumors tend to have power because they are carried forth. When we hear rumors about a miraculous sighting, it tends to resonate with us. We love to believe that there might be something unseen and unexplained out there. Tales like this make it all too fun to imagine being one of the few people worthy of witnessing a rare sighting like this. 


It is thrilling to imagine that you have witnessed some elusive creature that hasn’t been documented by science. When we share these rumors, it is all too easy to believe them. In this case, your mind might play a few tricks to convince you that you have spotted the rare blue cardinal.

Birds That Might Be Confused For A Blue Cardinal

Depending on where you are birdwatching, you might find that there are some birds that look quite a lot like a blue cardinal. Since this is the case, we wanted to pull together a few of the more common birds that are confused for a blue cardinal. In some instances, other factors might be at play when it comes to how we see them including lighting and surrounding colors.

The Blue Grosbeak

One of the birds that is most commonly pointed to over the confusion of the blue cardinal sightings is the blue grosbeak. This bird, which shares a family, Cardinalidae, with the cardinal, is often misinterpreted as a blue cardinal. In reality, they are a different bird entirely. However, they are quite blue.

The Red-Crested Cardinal

This type of cardinal is also one of the potential suspects when it comes to blue cardinal rumors. This unique cardinal is known for its gray back and wings that do seem to have a hint of blue. Though they are not nearly as vibrant as the Blue Grosbeak, their blueish gray feathers have been known to confuse birdwatchers.

The Desert Cardinal

The Desert Cardinal is another bird that is known for its misleading gray appearance. From a distance and in the right light, this mostly gray bird can certainly look blue to a nearby birdwatcher.

The Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal might very well be a suspect in the blue cardinal theories. It is not that they necessarily appear blue, but rather that they share a lot of physical attributes with the Blue Jay. Though these birds might not be blue themselves, they do make the Blue Jay look like a blue cardinal by comparison. If your reference for a cardinal is the Northern Cardinal, it is easy to see how the Blue Jay might mislead you.


Though the rumored blue cardinal is a hot topic of discussion in many birdwatching threads, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that such a bird exists. Though there might very well be some undocumented and elusive Blue Cardinal that is hidden away in a nearby forest, the fact is that for now, it is nothing more than a fun rumor among birdwatchers. Given the general appearance of many birds, it is easy to see why these rumors carry so much weight. For now, we will simply have to assume that there is not a Blue Cardinal until proven otherwise.


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About Us

We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!

2 thoughts on “Are There Blue Cardinals?”

  1. I have several birds that look like Blue Cardinals in my yard. I see them frequently. They do not look like a Grosbeak, do not look like a Northern Cardinal, do not look like a Desert Cardinal, and it sure as heck does not look like the Red-Crested Cardinal, it does not look like a Bluejay either. I first thought it was some kind of Blue Cardinal, but in fact, it is a Stellers Jay, a vivid beautiful Phthalo Blue, with a dark Indigo to black head, throat, and crest.

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