THE NORTHERN CARDINAL
More often than not, when a person enters our store looking to buy a feeder, the bird they most want to get at is a Northern Cardinal. And that isn't surprising. What nicer thing is there to see on a snowy winter morning than a beautifiul male cardinal?
The female is no less beautiful than the male, even though she is not bright red like him. Her beauty is subtler, with the same size, shape and color bill, but her feathers go from reddish brown, to even a little green. Their range covers much of the east and midwest and even slightly into southern Arizona. In the early 1900's they began their northward push and it wasn't until the 70's that they were found in Maine.
Favorite foods include all kinds of sunflower seeds and safflower seed. They tend to come to feeders at dawn and dusk and are often a bit shy, taking off if they sense any movement on your part. They are a bit finicky about types of feeders and prefer a platform to stand on rather than a perch. Both the male and female sing (in most birds it is only the male that sings). In the spring when pairs are together you can often see the male feed the female, this is part of their "courtship".
The nest is usually built in a dense shrub or thicket (by the female) from 2- 12 feet off the ground. Unfortunately this makes it easy for cats to get to and often leads to the demise of a cardinal nest. Cardinals often nest more than once in a season which runs from April to the end of August. Baby cardinals look much like their parents except their bills are dark rather than red and you can often see them "begging" for food from a parent.