Cardinalidae is a family of New World endemic passerine birds that consists of cardinals, grosbeaks, and buntings. It also includes several birds such as the tanager-like Piranga and the warbler-like Granatellus. As such membership of this group is not easily defined by a single or even a set of physical characteristics, but instead by molecular work. In general they are medium to large songbirds with stout features, some with large heavy bills. Members of this group are beloved for their brilliant red, yellow, or blue plumages seen in many of the breeding males in this family. Most species are monogamous breeders that nest in open-cup nests, with many taking turn incubating the nest and taking care of their young. Most are arboreal species though the dickcissel is a ground-dwelling prairie bird. Conservation wise most members of this family are considered least concern by the IUCN Red List though a few like the Carrizal seedeater and black-cheeked ant tanager are listed as critically endangered and endangered respectively. Studies on the effects of climate change on species has suggested many more might be threatened with extinction in the near future. Some species such as the northern cardinal have been expanding their range within the last century.
The cardinalids can be found from Canada to northern Argentina and Uruguay, with Central America having the most concentrated amount of species. Species are found year-around central and eastern United States down to the neotropics. Cardinalids found in the West Indies are non-breeding migrants and those in western United States and Canada are breeding migrants. The western tanager is the northernmost species in the family, with their breeding ranges occurring in the southern portions of the Northwest Territories. The northern cardinal has been introduced in Hawaii and Bermuda. They occupy a variety of habitats from forests to grassland and arid scrubland. Most North American cardinalid species migrate south for the winter, whether further south in the continent or extending into the neotropics, except the northern cardinal and pyrrhuloxia which stay year-round. The neotropical species are residential year-round in their range.