Only the male cardinal possesses vivid red plumage. While a reddish color appears on the female's wings, crest and tail, she is less conspicuous with her brownish back and pale brown underparts. Though neither are bandits, both males and females wear black masks above large cone-shaped and pointed, coral-colored bills. Adult birds measure about eight inches in length and both sexes have a pointed crest which can be raised and lowered at will.
Since cardinals don't migrate, they can be seen and heard year-round, singing their cleat, whistling notes. A sharp click is the call note, but listen for melodies to increase in intensity during mating seasons.