Birds and Christmas (Cardinals and Snow Birds)
By: Tippy & Alfred
The birds that you usually see adorning Christmas ornaments,
decorations, clothing, figurines and other items are the
Cardinal and the Junco or Snow Bird. These two birds have
become icons of the Christmas season probably because they
are widely seen during this time of year as they usually do
not migrate and stay in the colder regions during the winter
months, unlike most other birds.
The Cardinal is indigenous to North and South America. Males
have bright red colored plumage. They also have a black mask
across their face. The Cardinal is named after the Catholic
Cardinal because of its unusual bright color red. The female
is better camouflaged, wearing tan with wing tips and tail
tip of a duller red. Both genders have very strong conical
beaks designed to open hard seed cases, and a large crest on
their heads. Cardinals do not migrate like other birds and
prefer to winter over, so they are commonly seen at bird
feeders in the winters here in the United States. Sighting a
Cardinal is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity for
The Snow Bird (more correctly known as Dark-eyed Junco,
Slate-colored Junco, Oregon Junco, White-winged Junco, Pink-
sided Junco, Gray-headed Junco or Red-backed Junco) are
North American birds that usually have dark grey plumage
with a white underbelly. They are known as snow birds
because they are known to come into towns and frolic in the
snow and be very tame around humans on snowy days. They are
often the only bird at the feeder on a snowy stormy day, and
so are also considered to be good luck. They live in small
groups and are altitudinal migrators, meaning that they
migrate from lowlands to highlands depending on the weather.
Some stay within the same area and do not migrate at all.
You can find these two birds adorning sweatshirts,
sweatpants and t-shirts. They are very popular in snow
scenes for their bright colors and cuteness. Cardinals and
snowbirds can also be seen in very many paintings and
drawings of winter scenes. They are especially popular on
There are also plenty of Christmas ornaments with Cardinals
and Snow Birds painted on or cut out of various metals.
Cardinals and Snow Birds are also made into figurines for
collectors to buy and display in their home.
The Cardinal and the Snow Bird or Junco are popular birds
during the winter months and because of this they have
earned their place as Christmas icons.
All About Christmas