Red birds, Common cardinals, Virginia nightingales, Cardinal grosbeaks, Cardinal-birds, Cardinal red-birds, Virginia redbirds, Crested redbirds, Top-knot redbirds
The Northern cardinal is a medium-sized very popular songbird of North America. Seven eastern states have it as their official state bird. The male is perhaps most responsible for their popularity, being the perfect combination of conspicuousness, familiarity, and style, featuring a very appealing shade of red. The brown females even have a sharp crest and red accents. These birds do not migrate and they do not molt to a dull plumage, so in the winter snow, they still look stunning. In summer, one of the earliest sounds in the morning is their sweet whistling.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
Seed predation, often referred to as granivory, is a type of plant-animal interaction in which granivores (seed predators) feed on the seeds of pla...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Serial monogamy is a mating system in which a pair bonds only for one breeding season.
Flocking birds are those that tend to gather to forage or travel collectively. Avian flocks are typically associated with migration. Flocking also ...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Northern cardinals are common throughout central and eastern North America, and south from Florida and Mexico down to Belize and Guatemala. This species has also been introduced to Bermuda, California, and Hawaii. They inhabit woodland edges, streamside thickets, wetlands, shrublands, gardens, and vegetation near houses in suburban and urban areas.
This species is not migratory but is a year-round resident within its range. During the day, these birds are active, especially in the morning and evening. In winter they feed in large flocks of as many as 60 to 70, mainly in open thickets on the ground, but they also forage in bushes and trees. In winter, most will roost and flock together. Males are very territorial and will defend their territory from other males. If they see their own reflection, they may attempt to fight this intruder. These birds primarily use physical displays and vocalizations to communicate. Both male and female cardinals sing, with beautiful, loud whistled phrases, sounding like "whacheer whacheer" and "whoit whoit whoit". They sing for courtship and to defend territories. "Chips" is their contact call or alarm. They also use many visual displays for signaling alarm, including "tail-flicks" and lifting and lowering their crest.
Northern cardinals are serially monogamous and pairs remain together for only one breeding season, rarely more. During the season, males and females engage in courtship displays, swaying from side to side with necks outstretched, crests erect, while singing softly. They may offer the other bird seed, touching beaks briefly as they do so. Northern cardinals breed from March to September. They usually have two broods per year, one starting around March and the other from late May to July. The nest is built by the female within a dense tangle of twigs or vines in a shrub or small tree. Eggs are greenish or bluish and spotted with brown, numbering 1 to 5. Incubation is for around 11 to 13 days, and just by the female, though the male feeds her. She broods her altricial chicks for the first two days, both parents feeding them. Chicks start to fledge when they are about 7 to 13 days old and are fed for about a month after leaving the nest. They then join a flock of juveniles. They are reproductively mature when they are one year old.
Over the past 200 years, this species has increased in geographic range and number. However, habitat loss at the edge of their range, in southeastern California, may lead to the loss of the cardinal population in this area.
According to the Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan-Museum of Zoology) resource, the total population size of the Northern cardinal is around 100 million individuals. According to the All About Birds resource, the total breeding population size of the species is 120 million birds. Overall, currently, Northern cardinals are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today remain stable.
As these birds eat lots of seeds and fruit, they may act as seed dispersers for some plants. They also may influence the composition of the plant community through their seed-eating. They also sometimes raise Brown-headed cowbird chicks from eggs that have been laid in their nests, helping populations of these birds.