Male cardinals get a great deal of attention during the winter months, when their bright red plumage contrasts with barren woodlands and snowy landscapes. Indeed, these "red birds" are among the best known and favored species of the casual backyard birder.
But, from my point of view, their less glamorous partners are more attractive. Though their colors are not as bright and eye-catching, female cardinals have a beautiful, varied plumage of muted, natural tones. Dull, reddish highlights on their crests, wings and tails contrast with their soft brown back and lighter, buff colored chest and abdomen. A black facial mask, not as dark and sharp-edged as that in the male, sets off the heavy, pink-orange bill that typifies all cardinals.
As one known for a rather dull-colored wardrobe of greens and browns, I readily admit to my preference for earth tones; "loud" clothing has never appealed to me. Perhaps I'm just programmed to appreciate the more subtle beauty in nature as well.