Seven states in the U.S. have made the cardinalor more accurately, the Northern Cardinal--their state bird. The males sport vibrant red color, which is easy to spot in the wild. Their songs (duets) are sweet elements of their charm. The cardinal was originally found only in the the Southeast. Now, the Northern Cardinal's range expands north and northwest and can be found in most of the U.S.
What They Look Like
The Northern Cardinal is approximately 8 inches in height with a short, thick bill and prominent crest. They like to sit with their long tail pointed straight down. Their wing span can reach up to 12 inches. The males have a much brighter color--a shade of red you can't miss against a blue sky or green tree. They have a reddish bill and black face. Females are pale brown with warm reddish tinges in the wings and tail. They may also have a very distinctive red crest, with the same black face and red-orange bill as the males.
Where They Live
Cardinals don't migrate, and were traditionally more common in the southeastern U.S., but have moved north during recent decades. Cardinals like to frequent backyards, pools or shrubby wooded areas. They make open nests in dense shrubs and vines. During recent years, they have been adapting better to living in parks and suburban areas.
Singing for Supper
Northern Cardinals are songbirds, and mated pairs sing to each other. Experts say they can sing over two dozen different melodies. Very few female North American songbirds sing like the female Cardinal. When compared to male Cardinals, the females songs are longer and sound more complex. Experts believe it helps males find the nest to return with food.
Male and female Cardinals alike will attack their own reflection in a window, car mirror or any reflective surface, thinking it is an intruder. They may do this for hours, non-stop. This happens most frequently in spring and early summer, when they are most obsessed with defending their territory.