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The Northern Cardinal

Things to Know

The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of the most states (7 states): Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Cardinals are American songbirds found in North and South America. They are known for the male's bright red feathers.

Cardinals are related to grosbeaks, sparrows, and finches. Cardinals are common birds in North America.
Other specis of cardinals are found in South America.

Northern Cardinal Range Map


The Cardinal was named from its color, which resembles the red robe worn by Roman Catholic Cardinals

Northern cardinals are non-migratory, they are year-round residents. They are active during the day, especially during the morning and evening. In winter, most cardinals flock and roost together. During the breeding season, they are quite territorial.

Northern cardinals live in several habitats including woodland edges, swamps, riverside thickets, city gardens and residential areas. They are often seen at backyard bird feeders.


Northern cardinals are medium sized songbirds. Both males and females have bright orange beaks. They have long tails and a pointed crest of feathers on the top of their heads. Males are bright red, while females are light brown to gray with hints of red on their crest, wings, and tails.

Female Cardinal

Males have a black mask on their face that extends down to their chest. Females usually don't have a black mask, but some have dark markings on their face. Young cardinals look similar to females, but they have a gray-black bill and less red coloration. As they grow, the beak color goes from black, to a cream colour before turning orange.


Song of the Northern Cardinal
Cardinals are active songbirds and sing a variety of different melodies year-round. Both the male and female cardinal sing. Typically the male sings toattract mates or ward off intruders. The female typically sings to signal the male to bring food to the nestlings.


The Northern Cardinal's food consists of weeds, sunflower seeds, grains, and fruits. They have strong beaks to crack open seeds. They will also eat some insects. They feed their chicks almost exclusively insects. They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders.

Northern cardinals dring water by scooping it into their bill and tilting their head back. They drink water from steams, ponds and birdbaths.

The female cardinal builds a cup-shaped nest in dense shrubbery, vines, or in small trees. The female Northern Cardinal builds its nest in dense shrubbery or in small trees. The nest are built several feet off the ground. The female builds the nest with twigs, strips of bark, leaves, grass, and roots. Items floating around such as paper the female will use it in her nest building. The female lines the nest with leaves, grass, or hair. Then she lays 3 to 4 white eggs with light brown spots. The female incubates the eggs while the male gathers food for both of them.




Colorful picturesn and information about the physical characteristics, habits, migration patterns, and markings of different species of birds. Includes transparent overlays.


Online Northern Cardinal Jigsaw Puzzles

Female Northern Cardinal

Male Northern

Winter Northern Cardinal

Male and Female
Northern Cardinals

American Robin color pages
Red-Bird poem and color page.


*Things to Do

Nothern Cardinal Maze

Northern Cardinal Word Scramble

*Sites to See

Cardinal color page


Draw a cardinal.


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