Northern Cardinal 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cardinalis Cardinalis

Northern Cardinal

Males have red plumage, and black mask on face, forehead, eyes, chin, and throat.

Females are buff-brown or olive, tinged with red on wings, crest, and tail. They do not have a black mask, but the same parts of her face may be dark.

Both have cone-shaped reddish bill, a long tail and a distinctive crest of feathers on the top of their head that gives them some elegance.

Males are larger than females. Legs and feet are dark red.

Juveniles resemble females, but it has a gray-black bill.

Juvenile females lack red tones.

BILL: reddish, cone-shaped.

SIZE: mid-sized songbird, measuring about 8.3 – 9.3 inches in length, with a wingspan of 9.8 – 12.2 inches.

WEIGHT: adult weighs from 33.6–65 grams.

COLOR: Red, black, buff-brown, olive and gray.

Seeds of corn and grasses, fruit (grapes and berries), sunflower seeds, buds, and insects. Sometimes, they drink maple sap from sapsucker holes.

Woodland edges, swamps, streamside thickets, and vegetation around houses in suburban areas.

Songs: A loud, liquid whistling with many variations “cheer-cheer-cheer” and “purty-purty-purty”. Both adults sing together, female duetting with male during breeding season, but both sexes sing almost the entire year.

Calls: a short “chip”(both contact and alarm call).

NEST: The female builds the nest while males sometimes bring nest materials. The nest is cup-shaped, made of twigs and grasses, weed stems, bark strips, rootlets, leaves, and paper interwoven, and lined with fine grass and hair.

EGGS: 1 - 5 white to greenish or bluish eggs, with brown spots.

INCUBATION: 11-13 days, female only.

NESTLING PHASE: 7 - 13 days.

They are not migratory, they are year-round residents throughout their range. They are active during the day, especially during the morning and evening hours. They flock and roost together during winter, and they are quite territorial during the breeding season.

Abundant throughout eastern and central North America, southwards from Florida and Mexico to Belize and Guatemala. Local populations in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Introduced to Hawaii and Bermuda.

The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was a female and was 15 years, 9 months old.

Northern Cardinal Infographic







1 comment

  • Love Cardinals
    They were every where in South Carolina Upstate. Our back yard was full of them. I haven’t seen them in Northen California where I live now. Really miss them

    Luz M. Johnson

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