Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Cardinals are found all over, from the East coast of North America west to the Rocky Mountains, and all over the South. The cardinal is a mid-sized bird between 8 and 9 inches long with a wingspan of 10-12 inches. The males are bright red with a red bill and a black face right behind the bill. Females are more muted in color, pale brown with red tints in the wings, tail, and crest of the head. They are found in dense shrubby areas where there is lots of cover and potential nesting sites. Often these are located in forest edges, grasslands, parks, or landscaping that provides the type of cover they are looking for. These birds are low feeders, foraging for food either on or near the ground. They eat mostly seeds, fruit, and insects.
These beautiful birds are noticeable by not only their color but also their distinctive songs. This cardinal is one of the few species of birds that both the male and females sing, many times from high, conspicuous places. The females often sing while sitting on their nest, a song that is usually slightly longer than the males. During the mating season, cardinals are known for their aggressive behavior at anything, including their own reflections in shiny surfaces like windows and cars. This behavior is due to the cardinal’s obsessive need to defend their territory, to the point that they will fight with rivals or their reflections for several hours without stopping.
Cardinals will lay 3-5 eggs in a nest that is usually constructed by the female in the fork of several branches in very dense foliage. The eggs hatch to reveal babies that are naked of feathers, eyes sealed closed and dependent on their parents for about 2 weeks before they are able to take care of themselves.