Red Cardinal Bird
The Red Cardinal Bird is a little sparrow bird you may be lucky enough to see when you are in Mauritius. Often seen in a variety of open habitats such as savanna, scrub, areas with scattered trees, forest edges and towns. It nests in bamboos, tall grasses, reed beds, sugar cane and mangroves. It is a small bird native to Madagascar which has been introduced to various other islands in the Indian Ocean.
The Red Cardinal is approx. 5 inches (13 cm) long and weighs around. 14 to 19 grams (0.49–0.67 oz). The male is bright red with black markings around each eye. Its wings and tail are olive brown colour. Its breast is also red in colour, with a paler belly. The female Red Cardinal has upper parts that are olive brown and a breast that is a greyish brown with indistinct central streaks on the head and nape. All have a bill that is black and eyes that are a dark brown. Legs and feet are pale brown.
The bird is a weaver, the male and female cooperate with each other to weave each nest, from materials such as grass, moss and small twigs. The female lays between 2 to 4 pale blue-green eggs. The nesting duties are shared by both the male and female Red Cardinal. Mainly feeds on seeds, but it will also consume nectar and arthropods, including beetles, caterpillars, moths and spiders. Nectar is taken from native and exotic plants. The bird often takes the nectar from the base, after pulling out part of the flower. The Red Cardinal chicks are fed with seeds and insects.
It feeds on rice and grass seeds and they often feed in large flocks of hundreds of individual birds. It is abundant on the island where it is considered a pest in rice growing areas.