How to Draw a Cardinal Bird

The northern cardinal, also called the redbird, is a common sight at bird feeders across North America. Because of an abundance of sunflower seeds available in backyard feeders, the cardinal has expanded its range in recent years.

​An endearing fact about cardinals is that they mate for life. Pairs generally stay within earshot of one another’s calls. Cardinal pairs can raise up to four broods of chicks per year, and they have been known to grieve for a deceased mate.

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​​Cardinals frequently figure in artwork. Dishes and decorations meant for the Christmas season often feature redbirds nestled among snowy evergreen boughs. Many sports teams employ the cardinal as a mascot, most notably the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. It is the official state bird in seven states – West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

​​Would you like to draw a cardinal? Doing so is easy with the help of this simple, step-by-step drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil, a sheet of paper, and an eraser. You may also wish to use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to shade your finished drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Hummingbird, Bat, and Eagle.

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​Step by Step Instructions for Drawing ​a​​ Ca​rdinal Bird

How to Draw Cardinal Bird

1. ​​​​Begin by drawing a circle. This will outline the bird’s head.

2. ​​​​​​​Beneath the head, draw an oval, tilted to the side. This forms the bird’s body.

3. ​​​​​​Draw a short, curved line to connect the body and head. On the opposite side, draw a long, curved line that almost reaches the bottom of the oval. Forming a point, double the line back to cross over into the oval. This forms the bird’s wing.

4. ​​​​​​​​​​​​Extend another long, curved line downward from the bottom of the oval. Allow it to double back on itself in the shape of the letter “J.” Draw another long, curved line downward from the wing, and connect it to the bottom of the “J.” This forms the bird’s tail.

5.​ ​​​​​​​​Erase guide lines as needed.

​6. ​Draw a “U” shaped line at the base of the tail to form the bird’s upper leg. Extend two parallel curved lines to form the lower leg. Then, use a series of short, connected, curved lines to enclose the toes of the foot. For the opposite foot, draw two small, curved triangles extending from the bird’s stomach.

​7. ​​​​​​​​​​Use a short, curved line to enclose the top of the bird’s far wing. Use several short lines that meet in jagged points to form the tuft of feathers on top of the head. Use four curved lines to enclose the beak, an irregular diamond shape, and another line to indicate the split in the beak. Finally, draw overlapping curved lines on the wing to add the texture of feathers.

​8. ​​​​​​​​​​​Erase guide lines as needed.

9. ​​Draw a circle within a circle to form the eye, and shade between the two. Use curved lines to enclose the patch around the beak. Texture the belly and tail with curved lines. Draw a set of curved lines passing behind the bird’s feet, giving it a twig on which to perch. Draw a circular shape with a spiral inside it to enclose the end of the stick.

​10. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Color your cardinal. The males of this species have bright red feathers and beaks, with a black patch around the beak. Females are brown with tinges of red. Others, such as the Pyrrhuloxia or desert cardinal, are grey with red features.

​Would you like to draw a flock of fine feathered friends? After all, birds of a feather flock together. Check out our other bird drawing guides, including the hummingbird, owl, eagle, raven, dove, and peacock.

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