Description of the Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal is slightly smaller than the American Robin, and has a very thick, red bill and a prominent crest.
Male cardinals are bright red with a black face.
Female cardinals are mostly brownish with some red in the wings, crest, and tail.
Seasonal change in appearance
The juvenile cardinal resembles the adult female but has less red, and has a black bill.
Woodlands, parks, gardens, and thickets, including those near human habitation.
Seeds, insects and berries. Cardinals will come to bird feeders for sunflower seeds.
Usually forages on the ground or in low bushes. Sometimes occurs in small groups in the winter.
Breeds throughout the eastern and southwestern portions of the U.S., and south to Central America.. Its population is stable in the U.S.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Northern Cardinal.
The colorful and popular Northern Cardinal has been voted the state bird in seven states.
The cardinal’s red color is due to carotenoid pigments in its diet, and research has shown that brighter red males are more successful when it comes to finding a mate and reproducing.
The range of the Northern Cardinal has been expanding north in recent decades, due in part to its willingness to utilize bird feeders.
A series of high, clear whistles sometimes described as "what, what, what-cheer cheer cheer."
Will visit feeders for sunflower and safflower.