Skip to Main Content

Birding Colorado Springs: Cardinalidae

Birds commonly seen in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.


Birds related to cardinals and placed in the family, such as northern tanagers (which are not true tanagers), grosbeaks, and blue buntings. Almost all are colorful birds and most have substantial beaks. Unfortunately, Northern Cardinals do not range far enough west in our region to be present in Colorado Springs.

Indigo Bunting
Author: Jerry I Downs. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivs 2.0 Generic

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Male is a gorgeous blue, typically a darker or richer blue than seen in bluebirds
  • Females are drab brown, with large black eye and pale streaks on breast
  • Indigo buntings have heavier, more conical bills than those of bluebirds
  • Song is high and sweet, with repeated notes

Black-headed Grosbeak
Author: Mike’s Birds. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Male is black/dark brown and orange with white streaks on wings and tail; females are drab with orange wash and brown markings
  • Grosbeaks are chunky birds with substantial beaks
  • Song is very robin-like but richer and more frenetic
  • Omnivorous diet includes the monarch butterfly; this bird is immune to the monarch's toxins.

Western Tanager;_male_on_branch.jpg
Author: Kati Fleming.Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike  3.0 unported

Info (All About Birds) Song/Call (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Male is striking yellow with orange/red head and black back. Females are greenish-yellow.
  • Breeds in coniferous forest; usually seen in Colorado Springs during migration in spring and fall, when it may come to feeders
  • Song is somewhat robin-like, but with a buzzy tone and long pauses between phrases.