Cardinals, with their vibrant red plumage and melodious songs, have captured the hearts of bird enthusiasts across North America. These beautiful birds are found in a variety of habitats, from backyards to forests. In this article, we will take a closer look at these fascinating creatures and discover 15 fun facts about cardinals that you may not have known before.
- Cardinals belong to the family Cardinalidae, which includes over 50 species of birds, such as grosbeaks, buntings, and saltators.
- The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is the most well-known species and is found in North America, from southeastern Canada to Mexico.
- The Northern Cardinal is the official state bird of seven US states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
- The name “cardinal” comes from the Latin word “cardinalis,” which means “principal” or “chief.” This is likely due to the bird’s vibrant red color, which is reminiscent of the red robes worn by Catholic cardinals.
- Male cardinals are known for their brilliant red plumage, while females are more subdued, with a combination of grayish-brown and red. Both sexes have a crest on their head, a black face mask, and a red-orange bill.
- Cardinals do not migrate, and as a result, they can be seen throughout the year in their range. This makes them a favorite bird to spot during the winter months when most other birds have migrated south.
- These birds are primarily granivorous, which means they mostly eat seeds. However, they also consume fruits, insects, and occasionally small invertebrates, depending on food availability.
- Cardinals have a strong, cone-shaped bill that is perfect for cracking open seeds. They are known to visit backyard bird feeders, especially those filled with sunflower seeds and safflower seeds.
- The Northern Cardinal is a monogamous species, and pairs often stay together throughout the year. During courtship, males perform a display called “mate feeding,” where they offer food to the female.
- Cardinals are known for their beautiful songs, which are sung by both males and females. Each song is unique to the individual bird and is used to communicate with other cardinals and defend their territory.
- Female cardinals are one of the few female songbirds in North America that sing, and their song is typically softer and more complex than the male’s.
- The average lifespan of a cardinal in the wild is 3-4 years, although some individuals have been known to live up to 15 years.
- Cardinals are territorial birds and can become aggressive during the breeding season. Males have been known to attack their own reflection in windows or car mirrors, mistakenly thinking it’s a rival male.
- The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was 15 years and 9 months old, found in Pennsylvania.
- In addition to the Northern Cardinal, there are two other species of cardinals found in North America: the Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) and the Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus).
Cardinals are truly captivating birds that have charmed people for centuries with their bright colors and melodic songs. The 15 fun facts highlighted in this article offer just a glimpse into the fascinating world of these beautiful creatures. Next time you spot a cardinal in your backyard or local park, take a moment to appreciate the wonder and complexity of these amazing birds.