The blue Cardinal.

A guy emails that he saw a blue Cardinal. What gives?

A Steller’s Jay comes to mind. But those birds live three thousand miles west of the guy’s town in Maine. Can’t be.

Still, birds don’t always play by the rules.

What if a Steller’s Jay took a nap in the back of an 18-wheeler at a Utah rest stop? The trucker drives off and four days later the bird flies out in Maine.

Or… Maybe a guy in Maine is spray painting his garage blue. A Cardinal flies through the spray. Unthinkable?

Ed Abbey said, “The unthinkable is always thinkable.”

Okay. Two theories so far. Maybe the bird’s a hitchhiking Steller’s Jay. Or it’s a red Cardinal that got painted by a spray gun.

You have a better idea?

FOOTNOTE (May, 2017): The above post was written in June of 2012, and seemed interesting at the time. How could a Steller’s Jay be so far out of its range?


Since then, we occasionally hear from readers who honestly report “blue Cardinals.” Comments from these people are shown below. We received one just this week.

We have no idea what’s going on. Are these all Steller’s Jays? Are they really blue Cardinals?

This is a question for experts. If an expert should happen to stumble across this site, and see all the comments below, we hope that person will shed a little light on the subject.

Meanwhile, thanks for your observations.

140 Responses to “The blue Cardinal.”

  1. Joey says:

    I live in North Louisiana and saw my first on July 3, 2015. It was the exact shape of our typical red cardinal but this bird was bright blue always down to his beak.

  2. Hadley says:

    I live in Llano TX and last week I closely saw a blue bird with blue beek shaped like a cardinal but smaller 10ft from me at eye level. I recently started taking interest in the birds around here and knew that it was my first spotting and decided to look it up online. I went to two thorough sites one of Texas specifically and one global and could not find match. I found this site and feel better about my sanity. If I see it again I’ll try to get picture to share

  3. Hadley says:

    Ps It looked different than the one in your picture and had brown wings

  4. June says:

    I saw a blue Cardinal last week in Whistler BC Canada. Thought I was losing it or that they were local to the area. Definitely was not a “blue jay” as I am very familiar with these

  5. Philip says:

    I was out early about 7am with my binoculars looking for the white does and their fawns and what looked like a blue cardinal lit not tofar from where I was standing. I got a good look at it and after research I have come to the conclusion that it was a ultramarine Grosbeak that had migrated up from South America. I have only seen it once but it had a smaller point of feathers, on top of it’s head, than the Cardinal or Jay. Like a Bluebird, when it opened it’s wings and the morning sun hit the bird it lite up like neon!

  6. Philip says:

    I apologies I left out some pertinent information. I live North of Atlanta in Loganville and it was White tail deer I was out looking for with the binoculars. I have tons of birds on the ranch but I had never seen anything like this one.

  7. Dhimat says:

    I saw a blue Cardinal today at Libertyville, IL. It doesn’t resemble with the picture above. It’s looks like any other Cardinal but sky blue hook and tail. The rest of the body is light grey

  8. sherry mitchel says:

    I have a blue cardinal at my bird feeder today. Central Oregon. I have seen more then a few since moving here 20 years ago

  9. ellen says:

    I spotted a blue Cardinal with my sister right outside our living room window on October 15th 2015 at approximately 12 o’clock noon it was in Calgary Alberta.

  10. jean annala says:

    I live in Western Wyoming(Diamondville, Wy) .On Oct 13, 2015 I was out feeding the birds and I noticed this beautiful bird. I looked up blue cardinal and it was a match. I have lived on my ranch for 69 years and never saw a blue cardinal migrate through. He has been here for 4 days now, and I hope he will fly off because the snow is coming.

  11. Cindy oxberger says:

    I live in Roberts Idaho and just seen my first two blue cardinals here today October 27 2015 couldn’t actually believe I was looking at them didn’t know they exist

  12. Cindy oxberger says:

    And I’m not seeing things I know a red cardinal from this blue one the pic on this site is exactly what I saw

  13. Cindy oxberger says:

    This is Cindy again and I just looked up the pyrrhuloxia bird images and it is not what I saw

  14. Cindy oxberger says:

    It’s me again cindy not only did I see two but there are 5 that I counted

  15. Myk & Lynn says:

    My wife saw a outrageously pretty bird in out back yard , she said she thought he may have been a small crow that had turned blue but she knew that was not right, she talked about it on and off trying to describe him to me last night ( Nov 3rd ) but I was just not getting the picture.

    WE both just saw him in broad daylight just now. Nov 4 2015 2:35 pm It’s a CARDINAL! he is pefect shaped Cardinal and has a dark Blackish blue head with the full Cardinal look, and then right down his back he fades to royal blue! I am off to see if I can snap a pic. We live in the Birds Of Prey sanctuary here in Idaho. We get to see some pretty exotic looking birds here but I have never seen a bird quite like this one

  16. Greg says:

    We have a pair of these beautiful blue birds
    lookingin our yard. They are fun to watch and the most beautiful birds we have seen.

  17. Greg says:

    We have a pair of these beautiful blue birds
    lookingin our yard. They are fun to wa

    These. Birds have just shown up since the last of Oct. I. Thought they were crows.
    They like to eat dog food. The call they make is a little weird.If they need to go
    South for the winter l hope they do it would be terrible to lose any to the cold.

    tch and the mosut beautiful birds we have seen.

  18. Jed says:

    Saw one in my backyard by a feeder, 15′ away

    Similar to this pic, but very separated colors like a cardinal, black and deeper blue than in this pic.

    Milwaukee Oregon, 11-29-15
    1:30pm in good light.

  19. A Cardinal flew in to my glass door, killed him a Beautiful Bright Red & black, But on its back were some Beautiful Blue feathers….never seen a Cardinal this close up before, do they all have blue feathers on back? Nobel, Arkansas

  20. Tawnya says:

    I saw a blue cardinal yesterday up in the Sierra Blanca mountains in the Ruidoso, NM area. We had gone up to the Monjeau Fire Lookout Tower and I saw one fly and land on a branch up there. I had never in my life seen a blue cardinal before and found this page while trying to find out if I was seeing things or not.

  21. Dora says:

    i saw one in my front yard on Christmas day

  22. April says:

    I saw 2 blue cardinals and 3 red ones today

  23. Bubba says:

    I just saw a blue Cardinal in my backyard. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one. I live in Shelley Idaho.

  24. Roady says:

    I have several birds that look like the Cardinal blue jay but they look much bigger than any of the pictures I’ve seen. I live in Northern Arizona. is it possible it’s a different bird?

  25. Noella Christine Kirkham says:

    Just a few moments ago, I looked out of my kitchen window and what did I see? A beautiful blue cardinal. It was so close to me I could’ve reached out to touch it. I just stood in amazement. So majestic!

    I live in Port Coquitlam British Columbia. :)

  26. Mitch says:

    On vacation in Tofino, British Columbia. Had one of these fellows show up on our deck this morning. Had never heard of a Blue Cardinal until now..

  27. Alexandria says:

    Good afternoon, I am from New Zealand visiting Mt Shasta, Northern CA area saw the ‘blue Cardinal’ type bird very similar from your picture above this morning. Was however more the size of a crow than a thrush or starling. Really excited to know if it is like me a traveller from a long way away or a bird I am not able to find so far on my internet search. Could be this type of Jay? Was a breathtaking blue and dark blue no white patches like the cardinal and too big to be a cardinal I would say.

    Great if you could answer when convenient. Best Alexandria

  28. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    Alexandria, welcome to USA from New Zealand. Regarding the “blue cardinal” type of bird. Our best guess is that what you, and so many people who have commented about this post, have seen is a Steller’s Jay. Please see this link:
    Hope that helps.

  29. Barb says:

    It’s true, I’ve come home to Oregon from living the last 7 years in Illinois

    and in Ill seeing all the Red Cardinals against the Snow all the time,

    came back to Oregon off the MCKenzie River on 2 1/2 acres and I see

    these Blue Birds that look like Cardinals all the time!

    I wish someone might clear up the Mystery?

    Thank you,

  30. Anita says:

    Today I saw what seemed to be like a blue cardinal. He was traveling with a red cardinal. They were both perched on my bird feeder eating together. I did mange to get a few pictures before they both flew off.

  31. Bill Hugel says:

    I was outside at my bird feeder in Port Richey Fl. A Blue Cardinal landed on the fence next to the feeder. It was bright blue. If they go by the same rules as a red. It was a male. I had never seen a blue cardinal before. It has been around for 2-3 days. It was not a Jay or Blue Grosbeak. The bird looked exactly like a Cardinal.

  32. Kevin says:

    It is most likely a Blue Bunting which is in the Cardinal family.

  33. Kevin says:

    Sorry- the other common name is Indigo Bunting.

  34. Terrie Lowe says:

    I have been watching a Blue Cardinal for a few weeks. It showed up this spring when I was putting food out to feed a small gray squirrel. I’m not sure if it male for female, it just came to the window and looked inside. I see it in the daylight hours of 5:30am just before dawn and sometimes in the evening. Is this common? It is one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen.

  35. Kathy Frost says:

    Just saw a blue bird that looked just like a cardinal. Had a little red on the wing, eating at a bird feeder. He/she was king of the hill and keeping all other birds away. Have a great picture of this bird but don’t see a way to post the pic.

  36. Marie says:

    I live in Connecticut and had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful red cardinal playing with a blue Cardinal.

  37. celia says:

    I have seen a carinal with blue feathers, a orange beak and some red feathers. Sorry, it is not a steller jay. I live in Louisiana.

  38. Brenda Woodley says:

    I saw one this morning on our bird cake feeder….awesome sight. Mill City Oregon (Willamette Valley)

  39. Shelley says:

    I saw a beautiful, stunning blue bird that looked like a blue cardinal or blue grosbeak. I was entranced! From Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Seems like it may have been an Indigo Bunting. I hope I see it again, it made my day!

  40. Kim says:

    My daughter & I were sitting on our front porch last night around 630 and we saw at first thought was a blue bird, then while it just stayed perched we noticed that it resembled more of a cardinal with its little tuff on its head. It was very bright and beautiful. A red cardinal flew onto a pile of brush and fed for a bit and the blue cardinal joined him then they flew off. We live in Adirondacks of New York on the northern tip of Lake George.

  41. Chuck says:

    8-17-2016 2:40 pm Savannah, Ga.
    I saw a cardinal with a blue head twice in our backyard. The head was bright blue on the top portion only. I am wondering if it was molting it’s head feathers.

  42. Fred says:

    The bird pictured is a “Stellar Jay”.
    Look it up on Wikipedia.

    We have lots of them coming to our bird feeder in western Montana.

  43. If you can give me a way to send you an image I will send an image of a female juvenile Blue Cardinal and you will see this elusive bird! It is definitely not a Stellar Jay!



  44. Sam S says:

    Came here after showing my son an example of a red cardinal. I mentioned that we something here (W. Washington St) that resembles the feature of a red cardinal/just blue, a bird I thought was a blue jay. Well a little wiki information (habitation doesn’t extend this far west), plus picture examples (not even close reveal that what I previously knew as “blue jays”, were actually these blue cardinals (not sure if true, but was told growing up that they were bullies around the feeder). It lines up with previous observations here. They had a healthy population in Snohomish County (20yrs ago); although thinking about it now I haven’t seen many lately (<10yrs) up in Whatcom County. Wow, fun to still learn…

  45. Blue Cardinal?.Blue Cardinal.jpg

    Saw this juvenile Female Blue Cardinal last Summer ’16! I spotted a male in 2015 but did not have my camera. Maybe this year. The male is a magnificent Florescent Blue. Wish me luck!

  46. Unfortunately This website will not allow me to download my images for you to view, so if you are interested visit my Website and see them there! I would love to hear your comments.

  47. Ridah Shoorbajee says:

    Apparently my Parents back in 2003 saw the Cardinal bird but in blue color. they used to live in Ashburn Virginia. So now in 2016 they decided to tell me this story. So is there really a blue cardinal that looks exactly like the red cardinal ?

  48. Christie Checefsky says:

    I live in South Carolina seen the blue cardinal today for the first time at my bird feeder! Gorgeous!

  49. Douglas N White says:

    I live in McMinnville, Oregon. We put food out for birds year around and we have attracted several species of birds over the years, one of which is the Sellers Jay or Blue cardinal that you picture. There are 4 this year. Very handsome birds.

  50. Carole Brown says:

    I saw a “blue cardinal” at Yosemite National park on May1, 2017. There were many people around and it didn’t seem to bother him one bit!

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