Cockatoos, parakeets, and lovebirds were among the first offerings
to reach the Spanish Queen from the New World early in the sixteenth
century. The unusual plumage of these winged captives was spoken of in
many nations and they were pronounced most pleasing to the eye. Several
decades later the Virginia cardinal was sent to England. Here was a bird
not only of great beauty, but with an oddly keyed song that everyone liked.
The lovely notes of the bird gave it the erroneous name of Virginia
nightingale in Europe. Indigenous to America it is one of the 800 members
of the sparrow family.
Whoever bestowed the name of cardinal upon the flaming songster
must have traveled through Europe and behold the brilliant hats that Pope
Innocent IV had granted to his highest relates in 1245 as a special insignia of
rank. Possibly he had seen Richelieu in France after 1622, flaunting his red
cardinal robes, topped by the red cap, bearing himself proudly and
The cardinal has a wide range and may be seen as far west as South
Dakota. Occasionally they even venture north to southern Ontario. A
connection of the finch family, it has been given different names in various
sections, such as Virginia redbird, Kentucky cardinal, red grosbeak.