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Pyrrhuloxia

By: Text and Illustrations by Jerry Poindexter
Updated June 20, 2019

The pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) resembles the Northern cardinal of the west, measuring between 7 1⁄2 inches to 9 inches in length. Pyrrhuloxia comes from two words: pyrrhos (flame colored) and loxos, which refers to the reddish highlight in the feathers, mostly in the long red crest, breast, and tail feathers. The pyrrhuloxia has a curved parrot-like bill. The study skins I used all had different color characteristics. They were anywhere from grayish to brownish and more or less red in the area of the breast. Since the male and female are about the same size, too much brown would represent a female. Depending on your reference it would be best to first indicate where you are going to apply the red with a water-based pencil.

The pattern and painting notes for this article are from study skins from the Museum of Nature History’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

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