Isn’t this an intense look? Male cardinals have an image problem…in my professional opinion.
I think a simple change by Mother Nature could solve the whole issue. I’d suggest that the less dark feathers to the side of the eye, (see arrow), add to the impression of a stern demeanor.
An easy fix would be to add some interesting eyelashes and replace the black feathers under the beak with red feathers.
I’m aware that this is a radical proposal…but I think many cardinals would like to soften their, “look”.