Northern Cardinal

The northern cardinal is a mid-sized songbird wat are about 8-9 inches in length. The Male is a vibrant red, while the female is a reddish olive color. 

General Info For Northern Cardinal

Name::Northern Cardinal
Scientific Name::Cardinalis cardinalis
High Classification:Cardinali
Size:8.3–9.1 inches
Habitat:Woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and wetlands.
Diet:Bugs, berries, seed, suet


The adult male is one of the most recognized and love songbirds. Males are a brilliant red color with a black face mask over the eyes.


The female cardinal is a light yellowish tan color, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers


Unlike many birds, northern cardinals remain paired up throughout the year. Female cardinals choose the nesting site and build the cup-shaped nest, using a variety of grasses and sticks which she flattens and molds into shape with her beak. During this time, the males will bring building materials and feed the females seeds and berries as tokens of affection.

Females lay three to four eggs during the spring mating season and again in the summer.

The eggs are white but can have a hue of green or blue with lavender, gray, or brown blotches.

Nesting Info

Habitat:Well-concealed spot in dense shrub or a low tree 
Nest ShapeCup shaped
Incubation:12 to 13 days
Fledging:10 to 11 days after hatching

Males gather food for the female and the fledglings, meals can up to 7 times an hour the first week. The second week the male tapers the meals down to about three an hour.

Young Cardinals have a black beak and adults have beaks in a reddish, orange, or pink coloring.

Trees & Shrubs To Plant

Besides seed and insects, the Northern Cardinal eats plenty of berries and having trees and shrubs that produce berries is a natural way to lure the birds to your yard.


Blueberry Dogwood
ServiceberryHoneysuckle hedges
Mulberry Other dark-colored berries

The birds are not as picky as most and can be tempted by many additional fruits especially during the winter months when berries on trees start getting picked clean.

Insects Cardinals Eat


Offer A Buffet at Your Feeder

Safflower Seed

Not sure what safflower seed is?  That is a fair question, the seed has grown in popularity in the past few years.

Purchase seed and offer it up to your feathered friends, they love using their strong beaks to break open the seeds.

Additional Post:
Grow Your Own Safflower

Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Cardinals love black oil sunflower seed and the seed is an oil-rich, high-protein choice that appeals to almost every seed-eating species. An excellent seed choice for hopper, tube, and tray or open platform bird feeders.

Some additional birds that eat black oil sunflower seed include chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, house finches, sparrows, blue jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, and indigo buntings.


Cardinals have been known to eat nips of suet during the winter at my feeders to help regulate their body temperatures in the cold. 

You can purchase suet or make your own.


Most are hanging feeders that swing and have cages or perches for birds to rest on while eating.

Many hoppers can hold enough seed to last for several days, which can make them very convenient for people.

A tray or platform feeder is solid and stationary, it provides a solid platform for a bird to stand on.  The feeder shows no sign of movement and will not swing in the wind if attached to decks, rails and tree stumps.  The feeders allow for feeding a wide variety of seed-eating loving birds.

Normally some form of caged feeder that will hold suet.  Can be stationary or swinging

Offer Fruit In A Dish

Even if you have fruit-bearing trees, add additional cut-up fruits that are past prime to a platform feeder or dish.

  • Apple slices
  • Raspberries
  • Raisins
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries

Additional Posts:
Simple Tray Feeder
Dry Fruit Medley Recipe
Dry Fruit For Your Feeder

Start Slow and Add When You Can

In order to attract any wildlife to your backyard, you have to research what items attract the wildlife to live or visit an area.  If you add a few elements that attract Northern Cardinals like trees and shrubs and feeders that offer fruits, suet, sunflower seed, and safflower seed that will greatly improve your chance that the birds will stick around your property for you to enjoy.

Additional Posts

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