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.

143 Responses to “The blue Cardinal.”

  1. Charles says:

    Saw one today, blue Cardinal, 27 may 2017. Baltimore Md

  2. Cecelia Hoff says:

    I have both Blue Jays and blue Cardinals in my yard female and males

  3. Jacob W says:

    Saw a group of these on the trail near my home today, Centreville VA.

  4. Steve J says:

    OK… This is odd, but I found this page by searching for a “blue cardinal.” I have a frequent visitor who, for all intents and purposes, looks like a gray cardinal with blue around its head. I have eastern blue jays, mockingbirds and male/female cardinals all the time. The bird I am referring to also has a beak shaped like a cardinam(rounded). I know Western Blue Jays as well, and it’s not a jay. Blue Jays and Mockingbirds have sharp beaks. I live in central North Carolina

  5. Alyssa Mitchell says:

    We saw one of these unique birds in Raleigh, NC at the outdoor art museum! Our first thought was blue bird and then we saw the tuft on top and we’re confused, this bird pictured is definitely the one we saw!

  6. Brett Mohler says:

    Probably a blue grosbeak, we do see them occasionally in
    Northeast North Carolina, very pretty bird and yes they do very closely resemble Cardinals.

  7. Benny Huff says:

    We have a blue headed cardinal that frequently comes to our feeders. We watched him molt this spring and it started with just one very blue feather. Now the entire head and neck is blue and the rest of him is bright red. We are on the edge of the piney woods in East Texas. I hope to get a photo soon. He is very skittish and I missed an opportunity today.

  8. Leah says:

    June 25, 2017 We have had a blue cardinal at our cabin on lake Courd’Alene in Idaho. I have never seen one before. Is this usual for the area? I am a Montana girl and have not seen this bird before. How can you tell the difference from the Stella Jay?

  9. G Canady says:

    I have two shots of a “blue cardinal”. It has a Cardinal-like beak, slightly smaller body with a Rust color on it’s wings.

    I’m in Central Arizona.

  10. Hilary says:

    Saw a blue grosbeak a couple weeks ago here in southwest Minnesota. It was so cool!! It looked like a blue cardinal, what a treat!!!

  11. Dona says:

    i just had a Northern Cardinal sitting on my fence staring at me. Before he flew away he turned around and I noticed that the feathers on his wings were like an iridescent blue. The blue feathers started a quarter of the way down his wings. Has anyone else seen a red cardinal with blue wings?

  12. Wendy Weaver says:

    I saw a blue cardinal or all blue blue Jay. I never have seen one since. It was all blue no other color. It looked just like our cardinals except blue. It had died and was laying in the side walk. I was on my way to school I was about 12. I wish I could if took a picture. But back then we disnt have cell phones or carry cameras to school. The color blue It was was a powder blue. Seen in Vandalia Illinois in the middle 90s

  13. Erin says:

    Saw one in Calistoga, CA. July, 23, 2017. Head to toe blu, and hardly afraid of people.

  14. Shane M. Paulsen says:

    Saw one this morning in Anchorage, AK. Looked up blue cardinal, found you.

  15. Don Verkow says:

    We have a Cardinal with blue lower back feathers. Odd!

  16. Heather says:

    We have a little friend that is the exact shape of a cardinal but it is jewel toned blue with black. I wasn’t sure what it was so I took a chance and googled “blue cardinal”. That’s how I found this page. We live in the Elkhorn Mountain range in Eastern Oregon at 4800 feet. With all of the comments, I’m starting to think it IS a blue cardinal! =o)

  17. Ann says:

    In Santa Cruz California we have lots of these birds in our trees. I’ve been trying to figure out also if these are Blue Cardinals. I know what Blue Jays look like and they diffently aren’t that . Glad others are noticing this beautiful birds . So what shall we name these ?

  18. Lisa Freeman says:

    I was sitting out on my back deck in North Platte Nebraska, and heard the chirp by my bird feeder. Assuming it was one of our beautiful ‘Red” cardinals, I smiled and looked around. To my surprise, there was a white body/ light blue tipped winds cardinal with his crown etc. YES it was the body of a cardinal…beak and all. Same chirp, same manner. I went inside to get my camera and of course it flew away before I could return. I will be keeping an eye out WITH my camera always with me from now on.

  19. Mariah says:

    I just saw a blue cardinal.
    I googled because of it. I have no doubt.

  20. Becky Larson says:

    I saw my first one today. Black neck and crown and a beautiful blue body. I am in Central Oregon. I have been feeding the birds for 2 years and have never seen one of these. He swooped in and got a peanut off the back porch.

  21. Becky Larson says:

    It is clearly a Steller’s Jay. I found a photo that looks just like him on the Audubon Website.

  22. Susan says:

    We are vacationing in Incline Village, Nevada and have seen a lot of black birds with blue on the face, wings, tail and underbelly. What a beautiful bird! It does have a cardinal head and beak. One we have never seen before!

  23. SARAH M. says:

    Just saw one of these in my backyard in North Carolina.

  24. Tina-Marie says:

    I have two of these beautiful blue cardinals that come and feed at my feeders every day. Burien, WA.

  25. Dana says:

    I’m up in New Jersey and I was so stunned. I’m actually more interested in the spiritual meaning. Such a beautiful bird I got the chance to Snapchat it.

  26. Dana says:

    The tail has dark, electric blue and white mosaic feathers. The back of its head has a point as a red cardinal does. Gorgeous

  27. Saw a blue cardinal today in my bird feeder. Was there all morning. Victoria, BC right across the Juan de Fuca Strait

    /Users/user/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Masters/2017/10/14/20171014-090647/IMG_1799.JPG

  28. Joyce Moore says:

    My cat and I encountered a very vocal and angry blue cardinal on my back deck in Anchorage, Alaska on 10 October 2017.

  29. jeff jesmain says:

    saw blue cardinal at my feeders wondered what he or she was looked this sight up perfect match to picture has been around a few weeks now colorado city colorado looks just like red cardinal except blue jeff

  30. GTrump says:

    We have two blue cardinals or Stellar J’s at our cabin in central Utah, they aren’t aggressive or loud like blue J’s.

  31. Rufus James says:

    I saw blue “cardinal looking” bird today albeit smaller than the northern cardinals that visit my back yard. I am in Henry county Georgia just south of Atlanta.

  32. Jon Norris says:

    I saw a pair of blue Cardinals today in Castle Rock, Colorado.

  33. Phil Hansen says:

    We just had a blue cardinal visit us in our back yard. In Utah oct. 28th I’ve lived here my whole life and never seen one of these birds. My wife found a picture on the internet. No doubt that’s what it was. 20 feet from us. Funny thing is, we were feeding peanuts to the scrub jays when he showed up. Pretty cool!

  34. Patti Obrien says:

    Yes, these stellar jays are strikingly beautiful, but are loud and total bullies to the smaller birds around my feeders!!

    Kitsap Peninsula, WA State

  35. Laura S. says:

    A flash of blue caught my eye this morning out the kitchen window & I was shocked to see a beautiful electric blue bird that looks just like a cardinal (& the one at top of this page)! He was just far enough away that all of my pictures came out too grainy & dark to do him justice but he was stunning. He was scratching around under my bird feeder until a neighbor walking her dog down the road frightened him away. I’m in the Four Corners area of New Mexico USA, just a few miles south of the Colorado border. I’ve lived here my entire life & this was a first in my memory. I hope he comes back!

  36. Krissy B says:

    I live in a tiny town in New Mexico called Socorro NM. I love wild animals of all types. i have hummingbird feeders in the summer, wild bird seed feeders in the winter and a bird bath year round. Normally I see different types of sparrows and finches that live near us year round. Once in awhile i will get something out of the ordinary. Last year i got a lone parakeet blue in color and I watched it for a few days then he or she was gone. This summer there was a pair of the most brilliant red birds that i have never seen and cannot find it in any publication yet. We have a pair of red tail hawks that live behind us in a vacant area with trees and we feel so fortunate when we get to see them, well a few days ago a young red tail hawk came to my small bird bath and it was such a special day. we are sure it is the baby of the pair we live around. Today i was sitting watching tv and a sight caught my eye. it was a pair of blue cardinals i had to look it up because i wasnt sure what they were. I tried so hard to get a picture on my crappy phone camera but i didnt get a good picture. I tried to sneak to my door and get closer when suddenly approximately 20 birds flew into a nearby tree. i couldnt believe my eyes. we live near the Bosque Del Apache, a sanctuary for birds and animals. Most of them migrate here for the winter snow cranes,grey cranes and so much more. people come from all over the world to see them and get pictures its amazing. But in all my life i have never seen the magnificent blue cardinal and here they were right in my tiny yard in a trailor park in the middle of no where. i cannot tell you how special i feel that i was graced by their presence. i will never forget it.

  37. Catherine says:

    In August of 2016 in Keystone Colorado I was attending my son’s outside wedding at a beautiful overlook near lake Dillon. We noticed 2 beautiful blue cardinals sitting in a tree during the ceremony. Everyone was taking photos of the birds to help identify the breed. most of the guests were from the East coast and have only seen red cardinals prior. But after researching the photos..they were clearly blue cardinals!! We kept seeing blue cardinals for the days following even at our house we rented. So beautiful!!

  38. Lynda says:

    Have a cabin in Southern Utah (Alton to be exact). We also have bluebirds we called blue jays until I looked up images on Audubon’s bird field guide. They do look just like red cardinals, same shape head with tufted feathers. We love to watch them and they love Cheerios.

  39. Tracy says:

    I saw for the second time a light blue colored bird with a cardinal-shaped head in Michigan. What a beautiful sight!

  40. Chad says:

    Saw one today in my back yard. Very beautiful.
    Longview Wa.

  41. S beyer says:

    Slidell La. saw a blue cardinal in my backyard 2/22/18

  42. Sharon says:

    March 16 2018 just saw a all blue cardinal light blue very beautifully first time I ever saw one I live in ohio

  43. Christine Desaulnier says:

    Saw a blue cardinal in Red Rock, TX

Leave a Comment