Kentucky State Bird


Northern Cardinal

Kentucky state bird: Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Kentucky State Bird Description:

  • 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)

The Northern Cardinal 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 male 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. Their legs and feet are dark red. The juvenile Cardinal resembles the female, but it has grey black bill.


The Northern Cardinal lives in woodland edges, swamps, streamside thickets, and vegetation around houses in sub-urban areas.


Northern Cardinal Map


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.


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.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Kentucky State Bird:

  • 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.

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