Cardinal Bird Feeders
Cardinal Bird Houses
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Size: 8.75 inches (22 cm)
- Large crest
- Male: Bright red with black surrounding bill
- Female: Buffy gray below, grayish above with red patches
• Large, conical bill
• Long tail
• Bright red plumage, dullest on back and wings
• Black around base of bill
• Red bill
• Reddish crest, wings and tail
• Brownish-gray upperparts
• Buffy underparts
• Red bill
• Juvenile like adult female but has dark bill and crest
The male Northern Cardinal is unmistakeable. Females and juveniles are similar to Pyrrhuloxia but Pyrrhuloxia has a yellow bill with a curved culmen and is grayer, less brown
Woodland edges, fields, thickets, brushy undergrowth, suburbs, gardens, feeders with sunflower seeds, swamps, desert washes, riparian areas. Very common in the east. Both sexes sing almost the entire year.
Breeding: Thickets, dense shrubs, undergrowth, residential areas; riparian thickets in west. 2, 3, occasionally 4 broods. Mating system is monogamous.
Displays: Male and female with outstretched necks and erect crests sway bodies from side to side while singing softly.
Nest: Compact and well lined to flimsy and scarcely lined; of weed stems, pliable twigs, bark strips, grass, rootlets, with leaves and paper interwoven, lined with fine grass, hair.
Eggs: Three to four. Grayish-, bluish-, greenish-white, marked with browns, grays, purples. 1.0" (25 mm).
Chick development: Female incubates with help from male. Incubation takes 12-13 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 9-10 days. Both sexes tend young.
Diet: Insects, fruits, seeds
Conservation: Winter resident although some eastern birds tend to move northeast and north in late summer and early fall. Common cowbird host, especially in central portion of range. Range extending steadily north. Introduced to Hawaii.
Notes: Female sings usually after male establishes territory but before nesting starts; likely functions in pair bonding and reproductive synchronization of pair. Male cares for first brood while female incubates second clutch. May form winter flocks of up to 60 to 70 birds.
Charles Sibley's Birds of the World: Cardinalis cardinalis NORTHERN CARDINAL. Thickets, fields, forest edge, riparian thickets, woodland, towns, arid scrub. The U.S. in extreme se Calif., s Utah, c,se Arizona, sw,c,se New Mexico, w,n Texas, w Oklahoma, sw Kansas, ne Colorado, sw,c Nebraska, c S. Dakota, se N. Dakota, se Manitoba, c Minnesota, n Wisconsin, s Ontario, sw Quebec, n New York, n New England to c Maine and s New Brunswick, s to s Texas, Gulf Coast and s Florida. Populations expanding in the north.
Mexico in c,s Baja Calif., incl. Tiburón Island and smaller islands in the Gulf of California, Sonora, n Sinaloa, Tres Marías Islands off Nayarit, n,c,e Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, s in central and eastern Mexico to c,e Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, ne Jalisco, n,c Guanajuato, Querétaro, w to ne Hidalgo, n,e Puebla and Veracruz s to n Oaxaca, Tabasco, n Chiapas, Yucatán Peninsula, Cozumel Island, n Guatemala and n Belize. Pacific lowlands of sw Mexico in s Jalisco, Colima, s Michoacán, s Guerrero to s Oaxaca at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Introduced in the Hawaiian Islands, sw Calif. locally in Los Angeles area and Bermuda.