The Northern Cardinal is a very popular, attractive song bird. Home owners
and bird watchers rate this bird at the top of their list of favorite birds.
Cardinals are year round residents, that will frequently visit your bird
feeder. Usually, seen in pairs, make sure to have your camera ready.
Northern Cardinal Identification:
These eight inch birds are easy to spot. You will usually see them in pairs.
Both male and female have a black mask on their face, a crested head, and
a small, cone-shaped beak.
Male cardinals (above) are a right red. The female (below) is a brownish,
or olive color, with a dull red color on her wings and tail.
Cardinals bear two broods a year. The female has her nest in small trees,
bushes or shrubs. She lays four eggs, which hatch in 12 days. Hatchlings
are fed primarily insects. The babies are in the nest for just 11 days.
Northern Cardinal Habitat and Diet:
Northern Cardinals range across most of the continental U.S. east of the
Rocky Mountains. They live near, but not in, woodlands. They frequently take
up residence around homes and buildings, living year round in one area. They
do not migrate. They are very territorial.
The Cardinal's diet includes:
Seeds: sunflower, safflower, cracked corn, and millet. They are one of the
few birds that like safflower. You can use safflower to attract them to your
Fruit - a wide variety
Insects - this is the primary diet of hatchlings.
Cardinals prefer platform feeders. Their short beaks do not allow them to
get seeds from some feeders.
Cardinal pairs protect each other, usually taking turns at the feeder. Often
one bird will eat at a feeder, while the other "stands guard" in a nearby
tree. If a predator approaches, the bird in the tree sends out a warning.
See Bird Seed Feeding Chart.