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Northern Cardinal

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Northern Cardinals are large, unmistakable songbirds that wear their colorful plumage throughout the year. Male cardinals are fire engine red, with a reddish bill and black face. Females are pale brown overall but with warm reddish tinges in the wings, tail, and crest.

Northern Cardinal
CARDINALIS CARDINALIS
• Length: 8.75 inches
• Wingspan: 12 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Northern Cardinals.
Where they are, and when.

Northern Cardinals are widespread in low shrubs and trees on forest edges, woodlots, parks and backyards. They often travel in pairs or small flocks. And as bright as they are, you’ll often hear their piercing chirps before you see them. Unlike most other birds, the female cardinal sings as well.

Because they eat mainly seeds and fruit, they are regular visitors to backyard bird feeders and will supplement their diet with beetles, crickets, flies and other insects. When foraging, they typically fly back and forth between the ground and low branches.

Northern Cardinals build their cupped nests in layers, with twigs on the outside and a smooth bed of grass and pine needles on the inside. Nests are usually wedged into the fork of a small tree or branch. Cardinals fiercely defend their breeding territory in spring – so much so that a male cardinal may spend hours doing battle with its own reflection in a window.

January 30, 2013

A small colony of Cardinals appears to make its home along the Spillway Trail in Brazos Bend, just before the bridge. About seven or eight were flying back and forth across the path between the trees on either side, singing wildly. I’ve seen them the last three or four times I’ve passed by, along with a few nests nearby.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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