Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis




Cardinals, Piranga Tanagers and Allies (Cardinalidae)

Code 4


Code 6



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Breeding Location:

Bushes, shrubs, and thickets, Grasslands

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Solitary nester

Breeding Population:


Egg Color:

Green, blue or gray with purple and brown marks

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

12 - 13

Egg Incubator:


Nest Material:

Twigs, weeds,grass,bark strips, and leaves., Lined with hair and grass.





Northern Cardinal: Large, crested finch with vivid red body. Black mask and chin contrast with heavy, red bill. Female is duller, washed with gray, and has smaller crest. Juvenile resembles female but is browner and has dark bill.

Range and Habitat

Northern Cardinal: Native to the Nearctic region. Found throughout eastern and central North America from southern Canada into parts of Mexico and Central America. Introduced to California, Hawaii and Bermuda. Habitats include edges of woods, hedgerows, lowlands, suburban areas, swamps, streamside thickets, and vegetation around houses.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Cardinal: Three to four pale green, blue, or gray eggs with gray, purple, and brown marks are laid in a nest made of twigs, weeds, grass, bark strips, and leaves. Nest is lined with hair and grass, and built in a low tree or bush, or set in tangled twigs or vines, usually less than 5 feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 12 to 13 days and in carried out mostly by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Cardinal: Eats seeds, insects, fruits, and snails; forages in trees, bushes, and on the ground.

Readily Eats

Safflower, Apple Slices, Suet, Millet, Peanut Kernels, Fruit


Northern Cardinal: Sings a variety of gurgling and clear whistled melodies, with more than twenty-five different songs. Best-known phrases include "whoit cheer, whoit cheer, cheer-cheer-cheer", "cheer, whoit-whoit-whoit-whoit", "wheat-wheat-wheat-wheat", and "bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy,bir-dy." Female sings duets with male during courtship. Call is an abrasive metallic "chip" or "pik."

Similar Species

Northern Cardinal: Pyrrhuloxia has a stubby, sharply curved yellow bill, red eye-ring, gray upperparts, and red wash on throat and underparts.

The area of the face just below the bill.
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X