ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Beautiful Cardinal

Updated on May 14, 2012

In layman’s terms they are called redbirds or common cardinal. But to an ornithologist, one who studies birds, they are known as a member of the Cardinalidae family. They are related to Finches which are considered the most highly developed and skilled of all birds. Cardinals survive on a diet of seeds and insects.

Whatever one chooses to call them, the Northern Cardinal has been described as one of the most beautiful and favored song birds in North America. Male cardinals are brilliant red, having a reddish bill, distinctive pointed crest and black face immediately around the bill. Females have a slightly lighter black face and red-orange bill. In fact, during the early 1800s, thousands were trapped each year in America and sold to Europeans as caged pets for those qualities. However the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 put an end to that and today, it’s unlawful to hold them captive.

These magnificently colorful birds have been found so attractive several states have made them their official state bird. And more than one athletic team is named after the cardinal and has adopted it as their mascot. It is believed the bird was so named because of the red robes worn by Catholic cardinals.

Summer Tanager

Cardinals are found in North and South America. However, the South American varieties are classified in a different family. North American cardinals are among the continent’s most popular songbirds and the males are easily recognized by their bright red feathers and crested heads. Female cardinals, while also attractive, have a more understated, dull reddish color. Cardinals are especially abundant in the southern portions of the United States. In recent years, they were introduced into Bermuda and Hawaii and have adapted quite well.

Originally known as the "Northern Cardinal," it was once found only in the southern most regions of the United States. However, over the last century their range has grown to reach almost every state in the U.S. Even so, cardinals are not considered migratory birds, although they may wander a few miles from their nest seeking food and water. Since they don't migrate, if an attractive habitat is established a cardinal family may reside on a piece of property for many years.

Because they eat mostly insects, cardinals are sometimes introduced into areas to help control insect populations. Cardinals also eat wild fruit, leaf buds, berries and flowers.They live in nests, made from twigs, bark, roots,and lined with grass. Their natural habitats include thickets, bushes, woodlands, parks, and residential areas. If the female feels threatened, they frequently will abandon their nest and find a new location.

Cardinals mate for life, so if one is seen, it’s a good bet their mate is close by. The male and female often serenade each other, alternately singing the same tune one after the other. They are fond of singing. If females change to a different tune, their mates will do likewise. These birds are sometimes comical and fun to watch as they often fight with their reflection in house windows and car mirrors.

The female lays 3-5 eggs at one time and incubates them while the male brings food. Eggs hatch in just under 14 days, at which time both feed and watch over their young. Up to four broods may be raised during a single breeding season. One of their mating habits is referred to as "mate feeding.” The male takes a seed, hops over to the female and the two briefly touch beaks as she takes the food. Actually, this is common with many birds.

Cardinals will eat at most available bird feeders. They love sunflower seeds and will usually eat them first before starting in on other seeds. These birds will visit a feeder starting early in the morning and keep returning well into the evening. They prefer a steady stationary feeder about 5-6 feet above the ground over a hanging bird feeder. Male cardinals are highly territorial and will often fight other birds for available birdseed.

There are many predators native to North America, which prey upon Northern Cardinals. Some of these include:

· Cooper’s Hawks

· Loggerhead Shrikes

· Northern Shrikes

· Eastern Gray Squirrels

· Long-eared Owls

· Eastern Screech Owl

Chicks and eggs are at risk from:

· Milk Snakes

· Coluber Constrictors

· Blue Jays

· Fox Squirrels

· Eastern Chipmunks

Cardinals, like all birds, need to live near a water source. A heated bird bath will provide them comfort and unfrozen water during the winter months.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      No, they come in many varieties and shades.

    • profile image

      Marty 

      6 years ago

      We have a cardinal with a black head, is this unusual ?

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      6 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Beautiful pictures.. and a wonderful hub! It is sad that they fall prey to so many superior species, but that is inevitable in survival of the fittest!

      nice hub!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted awesome and up. Very nice piece with great pictures.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)