Paroaria Capitata – Yellow-Billed Cardinal

The Paroaria capitata or commonly known as yellow-billed cardinal, which is native to South America, is easily distinguished by its bright red head and its namesake yellow beak.  These tanager species are members of the tanager family (Thraupidae). It was previously classified as a member of the Emberizidae family and is not closely related to the cardinals themselves.

The species is relatively tolerant of human disturbance and can be found in and around waterside communities.

Quick Overview: Paroaria capitata – Yellow-billed cardinal
Body size: Around 6.5 inches (17cm) length with 0.052 lbs (24 g) in weight
Main colors: Black, Grey, Brown, Red, White
Range: the United States in Hawaii
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Yellow-billed cardinal Description

It has a sleek gray back and white chest and collar with a bright redhead, and it has a bright red beak. Immatures have a similar appearance to adults, but they are brown rather than red. The Cardinal is similar to the Red-crested cardinal but does not have a crest. Waterside habitats such as forested marshes, flooded fields, riparian scrub and forest, and wooded lakeshores are all associated with this species.

Range of Paroaria capitata Yellow-billed cardinal in United States
Paroaria capitata – yellow-billed cardinal in Naalahu, Hawaii. Photo by: Greg Lasley


It is 6.5 inches (17cm) in length with 0.052 lbs (24 g) in weight and 9-10 in (23-25 cm) wingspan range.


These birds eat a variety of seeds, fruits, insects, and flowers, among other things. They can be seen foraging for seeds on the ground, which is a common sight.


They are most commonly found in shrubs and open areas near marshes, lakes, and rivers, but they can also be found in other locations. They can also be found on the edges of wooded and forested landscapes.


These birds are frequently seen foraging on or near the ground, as well as in shrubbery, during the day. The majority of the time, they forage on the ground in pairs or small groups.

Paroaria capitata Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Genus: Paroaria
  • Species: Paroaria capitata


There are 2 subspecies:

  • P. c. capitata: South-western Brazil (Mato Grosso) to Paraguay and northern Argentina.
  • P. c. fuscipes: South-eastern Bolivia  (Fortín Campero region in Tarija)

Best time of the year to see

These birds can be seen all year round from January to December in the United States.

Distribution of the yellow-billed cardinal in the USA

These species are introduced in the United States particularly in Hawaii. Also, South America in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina are all home to this species.

Paroaria Capitata – Yellow-Billed Cardinal

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