Cardinals (also known as Northern Cardinals) truly brighten up anyone’s backyard bird sanctuary! These bright red beauties are favorites of many backyards – they are so popular in fact, they are the bird that most commonly cause individuals to fall in love with bird watching (birding).
What makes these birds so popular? You simply can’t take your eyes off of them… the males are a brilliant shade of red with a contrasting stunning yellow beak. The females are not as brilliant, but display a fanciful flight when mating season starts! Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about Cardinals is their early morning chirp and the evening call as the day comes to an end.
Where can you find cardinals? The are located in the middle to southeastern United States. They are non-migratory – typically not living farther than a kilometer or two from where they were born. This results in backyard bird sanctuaries being able to watch generations of Cardinals feed year round.
Size and Color:
Cardinals are one of the largest species of songbirds. They have a long tail and a very distinct crest on the top of their head with a black masked face. Their bill is thick and typically brilliant yellow to orange. Their life expectancy is up to 15 years!!!
Feeding and Food:
Hands down, Cardinals LOVE black oil sunflower seeds. They are not particular about the type of feeder you use, as long as it is clean and easily accessible. During the winter months, Cardinals will eat high energy suet with black oil sunflower seeds.
As a treat, I add blueberries or meal worms to my sunflower seeds for a Cardinal treat! Click HERE to purchase Black Oil Sunflower Seeds to make your Cardinals happy!
Both male and female cardinals are great parents! They are obsessed with protecting their nest and the young – so it is not uncommon to see them flying into windows or windshields. Be sure their feeder is away from the house or windows!
Males and females share in the duties of parenthood. The male is known to care for the mother during and after incubation so she can stay with the nest. Her eggs are blueish in color and have olive specks on them. She typically lays 3-7 eggs at a time.
It is a truly beautiful sight to see the fledglings following their parents to the feeder for the first time. The babies follow their parents until they are old enough to forage for food on their own and start their own family.
Cardinal nests are often found near their bird feeders. They do NOT stay in the same nest year after year, so if you want them to remain in your sanctuary, you might want to provide some dry leaves, twigs, or grass near the feeder to help them build their nests close by. For an Eco Friendly Nest box, click here!
Ready to Attract Cardinals to Your Backyard?
We would LOVE to hear your Cardinal experiences… please post a comment below!
Lori & Ginger