The Cardinal Nesting Preferences

Cardinals were initially discovered in the southern states. However, since 1950, they have been found also in the north and northwest areas of the U.S. notably along the Mississippi River. These days, they can be spotted in wooded areas and in the backyards of homes in the eastern section of the U.S. They like to stay in a particular location with enough food and suitable shelter for them.

Cardinals have different habitat preferences regardless of the type of vegetation. But they usually go for the thick shrubs such as the blueberry, elderberry, pokeberry, spicebush, flowering dogwood and juneberry. They have been found to nest as well in thick vines like the trumpetcreeper which make good and secure hiding places for them.

They prefer to live in gardens, woodlands, streams and mesquite areas. Being non-migratory birds, they like to stay in a mix of woodlands, hedgegrows, bush, roadsides and forest edges. Sometimes, individual birds may wander over a large area. They can also stay in the forest or old swamps as well as in cities. Generally, they abound in areas where food is aplenty with about 50 to 70 of them in a flock.

These songbirds build small cup-shaped nests on some low bush or tree about one to 15 feet above the ground, most often close to a fence, in the center of a field or inside thick shrubs. They like their nests to be near a stream where they can drink and bathe. Other times, they make nests near the house of a planter or in his garden. George Martin Adams in his “Birdscaping Your Garden: A Practical Guide to Backyard Birds and the Plants that Attract Them” pointed out that plants suitable for the cardinals’ food and shelter are hackberry, dogwood, hollies, red mulberry, wild cherry, sumac, elderberry and viburnum.

The cardinals use dry leaves, twigs, dry grass, bark strips, weed stems, rootlets, paper and grape vines interwoven with leaves, paper or plastic in making the outer portion of their nests. This behavior is a clear proof that not only humans practice recycling but birds too. The nest’s interior is composed of bent and fine grass, vines and hair formed in circles. These birds normally lay four to six eggs at a time in dull white color with tinge of olive-brown. During nesting time, the female cardinal makes the nest on her own although the male stays close beside her.

Cardinals kept in aviaries can be raised and bred easily. They can nest in straw baskets wherein they can deposit their eggs. They usually just add a few grass blades and are fed with corn or hemp-seed. They are likewise okay when placed inside cages for several months in one year.

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