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Everything You Should Know about Cardinal Birds

Last updated date: 02nd Mar 2024
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Cardinal birds also are regarded as Vibrant birds because they are very bright red-coloured birds. They belong to the Cardinalidae family. It also includes several birds like the tanager-like Piranga and the warbler-like Granatellus. They will sing in their melodious voice and along with this male of one nest warns other males by singing songs. Males are very defensive; they always tend to fight with other males. Sometimes they perceive their own reflection as other male birds and begin fighting. Keep reading to learn more about cardinal birds. 


Cardinals are typically covered with the red coloured feathers on their body but their faces are black coloured. They have large and very strong beaks with which they tend to eat seeds. Cardinals have a characteristic long tail and the maximum height to which they will grow is up to 9 inches. And sometimes they will weigh up to 48 grams. Legs are short to medium length. The wings are medium and pointed, cardinals have nine visible primary feathers with the tenth being short in comparison. Cardinal species shows sexual dimorphism which means both male and feminine differ from each other in appearance.

Tiny Red Cardinal Bird

Tiny Red Cardinal Bird

Dietary Habits

The northern cardinals belong to the mainly seed eating bird category due to their characteristic strong beak, they mostly go searching for food during dawn and dusk. They can also eat insects and sometimes fruits also. They used to burrow in the bushes of trees and dig out insects and eat them.


The members of the Cardinalidae Family like better to live in deep forests and tend to build their nests on the thick and dense bushes of trees. Cardinals are usually endemic to the USA. Most North American cardinal species migrate south for the winter, whether further south within the continent or extending into the neotropics.

Breeding and Reproduction

Most species of Cardinals or monogamous means they breed only during breeding season. The breeding season is in sync with the abundance of insects. Most species build open-cup nests made from grasses and twigs depending on the species. These nests would be within the trees, often high in the crown. The nest building is completed by both partners or by the female alone. The male and feminine take turns incubating the nest, often the male would feed the feminine.

A Male and Feminine Cardinal on a Tree Branch

A Male and Feminine Cardinal on a Tree Branch

Current Status of Conservation

According to the IUCN red data list, most of the species are not under concern but there are a few species which are under the concern and threatened species. Despite the overwhelming majority of species being classified as least concerned, there has been a growing concern in how the continued climate crisis will affect the distribution and migration of many species across the globe. 


Cardinals are North American endemic species of birds. They sing songs to warn other species or other birds and that they are generally medium sized with very strong beaks which help them to dig bushes to take out insects for eating.

Sample Questions

1. What is the average size of the cardinal bird?

Ans: The average size of a cardinal bird varies between 21 and 24 cm but they can reach a maximum size of 9 inches.

2. Why do cardinal birds sing songs?

Ans: They sing songs so as to warn the intruder into their territory and attract females and also when they carry food for females.

3. Why do cardinal birds have strong bills?

Ans: They have strong bills because they are predominantly seed eaters. That's why they require strong bills to break the seed coat.

FAQs on Everything You Should Know about Cardinal Birds

1. Explain how the male Cardinals are different from females.

The males are generally more aggressive as compared to the female species and also male are the ones which bring food for the females. These species like the indigo bunting will exhibit a complex moult cycle where they go through four different stages of plumage coverage within their first year of life.

2. What does the feminine cardinal song indicate to the male?

Feminine Cardinals generally sing to give an indication to the male Cardinal about the availability of the food and this also indicates when to bring food for her.

3. Why male Cardinals are very aggressive?

Male cardinals are aggressive due to their defensive nature. They keep on looking at the other birds in their territory and whenever they find other birds in their territory, they start agitating in order to warn the intruder.

4. Where was the oldest female Cardinal bird found?

The oldest cardinal which was red in colour was found to be approximately 16 years old and it was found in regions of Pennsylvania.