Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis


  • Size: 8 to 9 inches (21-23 cm)
  • Wingspan: 10 to 12 inches (25-31 cm)
  • Weight: 1.48 to 1.69 ounces (42-48 g)

This is a medium sized songbird. It has a crest on its head, a heavy, conical red bill and a face that is surrounded by black.


The Northern Cardinal eats seeds, fruits, buds and insects. Can be attracted to bird feeders with sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. Is more likely to feed from platform feeders and hopper feeders. Usually seen at feeders at dawn and at dusk.

Sex Differences:

The male Northern Cardinal is bright red with black around the base of its reddish bill. The female is grayish tan with reddish wings, tail and crest. The face of both the male and female is black at the base of the reddish bill.


Nests are usually built in small trees or shrubs, 1 to 15 feet above the ground. The nest is constructed from twigs, bark strips, vines, leaves, hair, and grass. Clutch will contain 2 to 5 eggs and incubation lasts 12 to 13 days.


Northern Cardinal Map

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know:

  • At your feeder you may see mate feeding between a mating pair of Cardinals. The male will pick up a seed and take it to the female. They will momentarily touch beaks as she takes the food. This may occur as often as four times per minute.
  • The female will often sing from the nest to alert the male that it is time to bring food.
  • The male Cardinal is very territorial and will vigorously defend his breeding territory. He may even fight his own reflection if he sees it in a window.

Click here for more information on how to attract a Northern Cardinal and many other species of wild birds

Click here for information on other backyard birds. 

The Northern Cardinal is the Illinois State Bird. 

The Cardinal is the Indiana State Bird.

The Cardinal is the Kentucky State Bird.

The Cardinal is the North Carolina State Bird.

The Cardinal is the Ohio State Bird.

The Cardinal is the Virginia State Bird.

The Cardinal is the West Virginia State Bird.

Please tell us about the Northern Cardinals visiting your feeders.

Northern Cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds to visit our backyard feeders. Unfortunately not everyone gets to see them. If you are fortunate enough to see them in your yard please tell us about them.

What type of feeders do you use? What type of food did they eat? My readers would love to hear your story. It is easy to do just fill in the areas below and you can even add pictures. One you're finished you will have your very own page published with your name in the title!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Cardinals Are Avoiding My Red Hopper Feeder 
I have recently purchased a new hopper feeder, red in color and have attracted most of the birds that were coming to my old wooden hopper. However, the …

Female Cardinal Wants To Come In My House 
Hello, I am a bird enthusiast, my back yard is full of bird houses and bird friendly. What I would like to ask is that is it common for a female cardinal …

My First Birding Moment 
I was 8 years old when I got my first BB gun. I loaded it and went outside and spotted a bird high up in a tree. I aimed and fired a direct hit and the …

My Grandmother's legacy 
I never gave much thought to birds as I had lived in a city apartment most of my adult life. My Grandmother however LOVED Cardinals. For gift giving occasions, …

Female Cardinal 
I have a female cardinal at my window of my office she sits on a bush outside my window then flies to the window like she is trying to get in. Then she …

Cardinal feeding other Cardinal Not rated yet
Had filled my bird feeder with wild bird food and decided to put some food on the deck since the Cardinals are unable to get to the food in the squirrel …

The Office Cardinal Not rated yet
The first time I saw the beautiful little red bird was about 2 years ago. I heard a ruckus at the back door of my office which is located on the beautiful …

Cardinal Cafe Not rated yet
My first son and I made this feeder 21 years ago and it has been in the yard every since.I have named it Cardinal Cafe because I have several cardinals …

Cardinal Love Story Not rated yet
I see the same cardinal pair show up in my yard everyday and I think they may even be nesting in our cedar hedges now. They are so cute as they follow …

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