The masked cardinal (Paroaria nigrogenis), is a species of bird where both sexes look similar measuring about 16.5 in length and weighing in at about 23 g. It has a stylized flat crown and a short and rounded occipital crest. Its forehead and crown are red, with a small black spot on the chin, lore, and black ear covers which all combine to form a mostly red mask. This red extends down to the malar region, and throat, further extending down to the upper part of the chest forming a bib. Upperparts are black, including the wing and the tail. The sides of the chest are white, extending up to the top of the neck and nape. The rest of the underparts are also white, including the flanks and undertail covers. The iris of this bird’s eyes is an intense orange. Legs are blackish, with a blackish upper bill and a horn-colored lower bill.
This species is similar to the Marsh Cardinal ( Paroaria gularis ), however, the former has a black mask, and is much larger.
The masked cardinal also a black spot on its chin as well as a red bib instead of black.
The Masked Cardinal is endemic to and found in eastern Colombia, northern Venezuela, Trinidad, and Brazil in the upper reaches of the Negro River.
They like to use gallery forest edges near water bodies and moist savannahs. Generally preferring open areas.
Though it is known this species likes to dine on a wide variety of things like fruit, insects, and seeds, although it is not known exactly what insects or plants it feeds on.
The breeding season for Masked Cardinal in Venezuela tends to run from June through to November. When a cup-shaped nest of fine twigs and bark is built lined with finer materials and spider web. This is usually placed on the branch of a tree about 3 m high above a body of water. A clutch of 2 pale cream eggs with olive-brown spots concentrated mainly at the larger end is laid within. Unfortunately, nests are frequently parasitized by Molothrus bonariensis .
This species is regarded as of ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN ‘Red List.’
You can watch and listen to this bird right here in the video below: