Red Robin Vs Cardinal – A Guide To Differences And Similarities

Red Robins and Cardinals are both prominent avian members of the bird family who live in shrublands, pine forests, and wilderness. Despite the fact that Red Robins and Cardinals share a similar environment, there are significant distinctions between the two species. The most crucial difference between these two species is that Red Robins are larger than Cardinal. Another prominent distinction is that the Cardinals have a more colorful body than Red Robins.

So due to the huge variation between these two species, it would be essential to get awareness about all the differences and similarities between these two exciting birds.

Northern Cardinal

Differences between Red Robin Vs Cardinal


Red Robins are grayish-brown in color with orange underparts. Red Robins have black heads, and as they fly, a white patch on their lower abdomen and tail becomes visible. Females have paler heads than males, which contrasts less with their grayish backs.

Cardinal males, on the other hand, are vivid red in color. Additionally, they have reddish banknotes directly surrounding their bill with a blackish face. Females are pale brown in color with warm crimson tinges on their wings, crown, and tail. They do, however, have the same reddish-orange bill and black face.

If you compare the red robin to the Cardinal attentively, you’ll notice a huge difference. Cardinals are noticeably more vibrant in color than robins. While robins have a vivid color on their chests and underparts, cardinals have bright colors all over their bodies.

Red Robin


Red Robins are larger and more rounded than cardinals. Red Robins are also considered the largest songbirds in the world. Their bodies are round, and their legs are lengthy. Their tail is also rather lengthy. They are North America’s biggest thrushes.

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On the other hand, the Cardinals are significantly smaller in size and structure than Red Robins. They have a huge beak that is enormous in size. Cardinals are somewhat bigger than sparrows and have longer tails. They always sit in a hunched-over posture.


The Red Robin is a widespread bird on the continent. They are found in parks, gardens, meadows, golf courses, yards, grasslands, fields, tundra, and bushland. They are also found in shrublands, pine forests, and wilderness areas that are recovering following logging or fires.

On the other hand, Cardinals are found in various environments such as gardens, woodlots, shrubby woodlands, and backyards. These birds build their nests amid dense tangles of vines and plants.

Both of these birds inhabit areas that are almost identical. However, Red Robins may be found in a considerably more extensive geographic range. This is because they can survive in almost any area as long as there is an abundant food supply. Red Robins will go to any location where their preferred berries are available for roosting.


Perhaps the most obvious contrast between the two species is their diet. Cardinals are granivorous, which means they feed on grains, seeds, and fruits.

On the other hand, Red Robins are omnivores, which means they consume nearly anything. A robin’s normal diet includes 40% insects and 60% fruits, including insects, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, termites, crickets, grubs, larvae, and snails.


When comparing Red Robins to northern cardinals in terms of activity, the Red Robins are pretty active, bounding over those lawns. They will stand straight, their beaks angled skyward, surveying their habitat and surroundings. When Robins alight, they repeatedly flick their tail downward. Red Robins create enormous flocks throughout the fall and winter and congregate in trees to roost on berries.

Cardinals in the north, on the other hand, like to perch low among bushes and trees. They forage at close proximity to the ground and frequently in pairs. You’ll commonly locate them near those bird feeders, but they’ll be pretty wary of approaching. They will not approach you until you hear their loud chip metallic tone. This implies that they have developed a sense of trust in their environment.

Cardinals are found in pairs, whereas robins are found in groups. Both of these birds chirp regularly when they reach a new area. And they both show a proclivity for extensively scrutinizing their surroundings; Red Robins are more active in this regard, while cardinals are more docile.

cardinal bird

Some other notable differences in Red Robin Vs Cardinal

CardinalRed Robin
Cardinal sounds/songs are slow and melodious.Red Robins seem to make a chirper sound but in a good sense.
Rounded tailFan-shaped tail
Small flocksLarge flocks
Red plumage with black feathers on the faceBlackhead along with orange chest and gray back
The average lifespan is three years (wild)The average lifespan is two years (wild)
Cardinals are smaller than Red Robin, with sizes ranging from 7-9 inchesA little larger than Cardinal, with size ranging from 9-11 inches

Similarities between Red Robin Vs Cardinal

There are many similarities between Cardinal and Red Robin, such as both birds’ songs are hard to differentiate because of similar tones and sounds. In both birds, females exhibit dull colors as compared to males. Males of these birds attract females with their vibrant colors and patterns. The males of both species are also in charge of guarding their territories and their unborn eggs during mating season. Both of these birds inhabit almost identical areas. Numerous cases have happened in which cardinals and robins shared nests. This has occurred precisely because they share habitat and food sources. Both are capable of living in close proximity to people, which provides them with a more accessible food source. And finally, both birds have lovely patterns and red coloration that gives them a beautiful appearance.

Red Robin on tree
Red Robin

Interesting facts about the Red Robin

No matter where you reside in the US, there is a good chance that you have Red Robins in your backyard. Red robins may often be found early in the spring when they are the first birds to appear among the most frequent songbirds. Some Red Robins move south for the winter, but the majority of Red Robins remain in the exact location all year. During the winter, they tend to spend more time in the trees, so you may not be able to see them.

The following are some other interesting facts about the Red Robin:

  • Robins construct their circular nests in trees.
  • The eggs of the robin are light blue in color.  
  • Every year, robins can have up to three broods. However, a large number of newborns do not survive because the mortality rate of the hatchling is very high.
  • Read more about the Robin symbolism.

Here you can check all Red Robin sounds

Interesting facts about Cardinal

In some cases, genetic abnormalities known as xanthochroism can lead cardinals to seem yellow rather than the traditional red color. Because cardinals do not migrate, inhabitants in the eastern portion of the United States can see them throughout the year. Cardinals may be found in backyards, parks, forests, marshes, and even the desert, all of which have a dense low cover.

Other facts about Cardinals include:

  • One interesting fact about Cardinal is that it is one of the few species in which the female sings along with the male. A couple of cardinals may even exchange song phrases, which they may use to communicate with one another throughout the nesting season. Female cardinals will exchange songs with a possible suitor back and forth.
  • The Cardinals sing more than 24 different songs.
  • Read more about the Cardinal symbolism or also the red Cardinal biblical meaning and the Cardinal feather meaning.

Here you can check all Cardinal sounds

Final Verdict

Cardinal males are bright red in appearance, while females are pale yellow. Red Robins have an orange breast and a gray back with a blackhead. Thus, the visual distinction between them is pretty apparent, but their songs are difficult to distinguish due to their highly identical tones and sounds.

Both species’ males are also responsible for defending their territory and unborn eggs throughout mating season. And finally, both of these birds inhabit very identical habitats.

Also check our bird comparison: Red Robin vs Cardinal and cardinal vs blue jay.

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Cynthia Demers
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Cynthia is dealing with animals' symbolism and all things spiritual for many years. She wants to help readers achieve balance in physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband.

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