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Northern Cardinal

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

This distinctive bird, named for the bright red robes of a cardinal, is an easy one to identify and a beautiful one to enjoy. Even the females have an interesting coloration with subtle hints of red tinges against buff feathers. And in winter, when many birds are in their dull plumage, the cardinal stands in bright contrast against the snow. To add to the spectacle, they gather in flocks during this time of year, creating a stunning tableau. You can enjoy this sight at your home, especially if you have a feeder in your yard.

Photo Credit: Fran Goldwyn


1.5-1.8 ounces


8-9 inches

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They will enjoy sunflowers in a feeder. As their beaks suggest, they are seed eaters. They also eat fruit and insects. When feeding their young, insects such as beetles, crickets, moths and spiders are favorites.


The cardinal enjoys a range of habitats from backyards to forest edges, overgrown fields, and hedges. For this reason, its population is secure at this time.

Life Cycle

The cardinal couple visit potential nesting sites together before making a final decision. Ultimately, they prefer branches that fork where they can build their nest. The female does most of the building.


They are here year-round.

Fun Facts

The males are very territorial at breeding time and may attack images of themselves in mirrors or windows.

Did You Know?

American songbirds have declined in population by almost 50% from 1966 to 2015.  To learn more, the please read this   article in National Geographic Magazine.

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