Northern Cardinal in Winter

Cardinal on branch when snowing
Male cardinal fluffs his feathers to stay warm. Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash
Female cardinal with a backdrop of snow
Female northern cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.

Appearance: Male northern cardinals are medium-sized bright red birds about 8 1/2″ long with a black mask, red crown, orange beak, and black areas on wings and tail. The female cardinal also has an orange beak but is buff-brown with a tan crown + a tinge of red, red spots on the wings & tail.

Diet: In winter, northern cardinals primarily forage for small berries and seeds.

Feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, mealworms, striped sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn.

Habitat: Northern cardinals are year-round birds that do not migrate for the winter. They prefer edges of wooded areas, thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyards. In the southwest they live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.

Range Map

Northern cardinal range map
Northern cardinal range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.