Northern Cardinal

male cardinal on platform feeder
male cardinal perched on platform feeder
female cardinal perched on a branch
Female cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.

Appearance: 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 also has an orange beak but her body is buffy brown with tinges of red on her wings, tails, and crest. The mask around her fact is charcoal.

Diet: Insects, spiders, centipedes, snails, and slugs. Fruit and seeds from plants.

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

Habitat: Edges of wooded areas to thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyard gardens.
In the southwest live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.

Nesting: Open-cup nest in a dense shrub about 3-10′ up. They have 2-3 broods/year, and 1-5 eggs/brood that are beige with brown spots. Incubation is 12-13 days.

Migration: Northern cardinals are not migrators. They remain in their year-round range every season of the year.
Year-round range: Eastern half of the US, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Range Map

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