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This was taken 01/08/2008 in my backyard. The female ended up with the male on the right.

Canon 50D
Canon 70-200mm lens

Cool Facts

Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.
Many people are perplexed each spring by the sight of a cardinal attacking its reflection in a window, car mirror, or shiny bumper. Both males and females do this, and most often in spring and early summer when they are obsessed with defending their territory against any intruders. Birds may spend hours fighting these intruders without giving up. A few weeks later, as levels of aggressive hormones subside, these attacks should end (though one female kept up this behavior every day or so for six months without stopping).
The male cardinal fiercely defends its breeding territory from other males. When a male sees its reflection in glass surfaces, it frequently will spend hours fighting the imaginary intruder.
A perennial favorite among people, the Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states.
The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was 15 years 9 months old.

Habitat

Open WoodlandLook for Northern Cardinals in dense shrubby areas such as forest edges, overgrown fields, hedgerows, backyards, marshy thickets, mesquite, regrowing forest, and ornamental landscaping. Cardinals nest in dense foliage and look for conspicuous, fairly high perches for singing. Growth of towns and suburbs across eastern North America has helped the cardinal expand its range northward.

Food

SeedsNorthern Cardinals eat mainly seeds and fruit, supplementing these with insects (and feeding nestlings mostly insects). Common fruits and seeds include dogwood, wild grape, buckwheat, grasses, sedges, mulberry, hackberry, blackberry, sumac, tulip-tree, and corn. Cardinals eat many kinds of birdseed, particularly black oil sunflower seed. They also eat beetles, crickets, katydids, leafhoppers, cicadas, flies, centipedes, spiders, butterflies, and moths.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–5 eggs
Egg Length
0.9–1.1 in
2.2–2.7 cm
Egg Width
0.7–0.8 in
1.7–2 cm
Incubation Period
11–13 days
Nestling Period
7–13 days
Egg Description
Grayish white, buffy white, or greenish white speckled with pale gray to brown.
Condition at Hatching
Naked except for sparse tufts of grayish down, eyes closed, clumsy.Nest Description
Males sometimes bring nest material to the female, who does most of the building. She crushes twigs with her beak until they’re pliable, then turns in the nest to bend the twigs around her body and push them into a cup shape with her feet. The cup has four layers: coarse twigs (and sometimes bits of trash) covered in a leafy mat, then lined with grapevine bark and finally grasses, stems, rootlets, and pine needles. The nest typically takes 3 to 9 days to build; the finished product is 2-3 inches tall, 4 inches across, with an inner diameter of about 3 inches. Cardinals usually don’t use their nests more than once.

Nest Placement

ShrubA week or two before the female starts building, she starts to visit possible nest sites with the male following along. The pair call back and forth and hold nesting material in their bills as they assess each site. Nests tend to be wedged into a fork of small branches in a sapling, shrub, or vine tangle, 1-15 feet high and hidden in dense foliage. They use many kinds of trees and shrubs, including dogwood, honeysuckle, hawthorn, grape, redcedar, spruce, pines, hemlock, rose bushes, blackberry brambles, elms, sugar maples, and box elders.

Behavior

Ground ForagerNorthern Cardinals hop through low branches and forage on or near the ground. Cardinals commonly sing and preen from a high branch of a shrub. The distinctive crest can be raised and pointed when agitated or lowered and barely visible while resting. You typically see cardinals moving around in pairs during the breeding season, but in fall and winter they can form fairly large flocks of a dozen to several dozen birds. During foraging, young birds give way to adults and females tend to give way to males. Cardinals sometimes forage with other species, including Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, other sparrow species, Tufted Titmice, goldfinches, and Pyrrhuloxias. They fly somewhat reluctantly on their short, round wings, taking short trips between thickets while foraging. Pairs may stay together throughout winter, but up to 20 percent of pairs split up by the next season.

Conservation
Least ConcernPopulations are generally in good shape. The expansion of people and their backyards over the last two centuries has been good for cardinals. However, habitat loss in southeastern California, at the edge of the cardinal’s range, may cause the disappearance of the cardinal population there.
credits given too: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Comments

  • Lois  Bryan
    Lois Bryanabout 5 years ago

    absolutely beautiful. completely perfect … subtle, eyepopping beauty. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Mike Griffiths
    Mike Griffithsabout 5 years ago

    Hi BigD! This is beautiful!! An instant favorite!!

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • mttmaliha
    mttmalihaabout 5 years ago

    wonderful work.. and so love the description and narrative. Love this!

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Bootiewootsy
    Bootiewootsyabout 5 years ago

    Beautiful image and I wonder which one will win the female’s heart….

  • The right male ended up with her or she went with the right male. LOL Thanks for your review.

    – BigD

  • Kelly Cavanaugh
    Kelly Cavanaughabout 5 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Rick  Friedle
    Rick Friedleabout 5 years ago

    Great shot!

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • kathy s gillentine
    kathy s gillen...about 5 years ago

    beautiful image D

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Brenda Dow
    Brenda Dowabout 5 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful!!!! Love the red of these little gems!!!! A fav!!!!
    Brenda

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppabout 5 years ago

    This is awesome work David, love the caption, the snowy landscape, and your excellent writeup…inst fave for me, with thanks

  • Thank you :-)

    – BigD

  • Jeff Palm Photography
    Jeff Palm Phot...about 5 years ago

    Nicely captured! What no Sigma with these guys and girls? jk. Looks great love the contrasting here.

  • LOL, Thank you :-)

    – BigD

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