About The Cardinal
The cardinal or cardinalidae, is a family of birds found in North and South America. They are named for the red plumage of the male of its most common species - the Northern Cardinal. The male northern cardinals are known for their bright, deep red plumage and their black faces. The female northern cardinal are of a more subdued color mostly light brown or dull red with gray brown or reddish tints found on their wings and tail feathers. Both male and female Northern cardinals have bright red beaks and prominent raised crests. Juvenile cardinals, even if male, have the same plumage as female adults until the young males molt and grow their brighter adult male feathers.
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The Cardinal Nesting Preferences
The Northern cardinal builds it nest on dense shrubbery and small trees. The nests are usually placed 1 to 15 feet above ground and are made of twigs, bark strips, leaves, roots, and paper. The nests are lined with vines, grass, and hair. Only the female northern cardinal builds the nest while the male cardinal sticks close by to protect their territory. The female cardinal lays 2 to 5 eggs that are white in color but heavily speckled with light brown to dark brown marks. The female cardinal also incubates the eggs alone while the male cardinal continues to guard the territory and find food feeding himself and the female bird as well.
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Building a Birdhouse For The Cardinal
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The Cardinal Mating Habits
Cardinals like to “mate feed”. During mate feeding the male cardinal picks up a seed, hops over to the female bird, briefly touches beaks with her before the female takes the food. The ritual of mate feeding continues from the start of courtship till the end of the incubation period. Cardinals remain faithful to their pair for till the end of breeding season.
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The Cardinal Feeding Preferences
The cardinal’s diet consists mostly of seeds, fruit, insects, and small animals like worms and lizards. Due to their beautiful plumage cardinals are among the most popular birds to feed and attract. Since they are non-migratory, cardinals will stay in the same area year round as long as there is adequate shelter and food. For this reason, plenty of people set up birdhouses and feeders for them. The cardinal’s seem to like white prosso millet and safflower seeds but especially like peanuts and sunflower seeds.
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Interesting Cardinal Facts
The Northern Cardinal is called the “state bird” in the United States because it holds the records for holding that title in the most number of states – 7. The states include North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.
The brighter red the plumage of a cardinal is the more reproductive success he has. Brighter red males also have better territories in terms of vegetation than dull ones and usually feed at faster rates.
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Add Your Comments
c s 3/29/2007)
very good and helpfull site. Very acurate information!
l r 7/1/2007)
I just had a little Cardinal relationship on my deck. The female chirped and flapped her wings while the male picked up seeds and fed them to her.....very lively this was!!
donald benjamin 9/22/2007)
We had a male cardinal start using our feeder about April lst 2007 He was completely bald with all black skin, until about Sept l5, 2007. When he starting getting feathers. Around May he acquired a girl friend, and they now feed together. apparently she likes bald men.
Rebecca Franke 12/18/2007)
I love these kinds of birds
rebecka franke 2/21/2008)
hi ppl how u doin i like these birds
maddy puntenney 2/24/2008)
very helpful! thank you for making this site! very accurate info! and, there have been many cardinals come and feed on our feeders!
Willie Fitner 3/25/2008)
We had a pair of cardinals get friskey on our back porch. It started innocently enough, the male wistled and the female flew to him, then they got doing the nasty. They used many different positions, including missionary and doggy. Then another pairs of birds flew in and there was somewhat of a gang bang. The males finished and brought the females each a seed. The hoes got paid.
shannah sowers 5/5/2008)
im doing a report on cardinals and this was really helpful! it had everything i needed to know! im gonna come on this again! u should really get on!
tayler walker 5/5/2008)
Hey nice website it eally helpful i need it for since and it really helped me.!!!Thanks
p r 5/25/2008)
We have big picture windows and I have had a female cardinal- from 6 in the morning until dark- to continue to fly into the windows. Why and what can I do to get her to stop? She has been doing this for 3 weeks now!
Olivia Rusher 7/16/2008)
Our office has a cardinal repeatedly flying into the glass while seeing its reflection. There is a dead baby bird on the ground below it. Is this a protective action or a grieving action?
Cardinals are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their area. They will repeatedly attack intruders, including window reflections- they can't tell the difference!Marking the windows in some way will make them visible to the birds to prevent accidental strikes. I have heard using a highlighter works and it is not visible or disruptive to people.It does need to be reapplied frequently to continue working.
c r 5/25/2016)
This site was really helpful for a project i had to do for school. so thank you!
not availble 5/25/2016)
We have one that lives by our house. One night, it started trying to get in the house. It was hillarious!
Hi, I am in the 5th grade. This site will help me write my research paper on Cardinals. Thank you.
Linda Wintzel 5/25/2016)
I have had a female cardinal hitting my windows since Dec, 2006, If you have a speacial Totum, They are messenger birds, trying to figure out her message. She seems to know what area of the house I'm in, If I'm in my bed room she comes to that window, if I'm in my computer room she comes to that window, if I'm in the kitchen she comes to that window. How does she know what area of the house I'm in. I not afraid, are uncomfortable with her. I wait for her, and still trying to get imformation on her message. Any imformation would help.