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10 Fun Facts About Cardinals You Didn’t Know

The Northern Cardinal is a perennial favorite of backyard birders because of its bright red colors, joyful songs and year-round presence. While those in its range might have become accustomed to these prominent birds, the birds should be marveled every day for so many reasons. Here are 10 interesting facts about Northern Cardinals you probably didn’t know.

1. Unlike many other songbirds in North America, both the male and female cardinals can sing. Usually, only a male songbird is capable of singing.

2. On a related note, when a female cardinal sings from the nest, it usually means she’s telling the male she needs more food.

3. The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, which is more than any other bird.

4. It is also the mascot of prominent sports teams and schools, including the St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, University of Louisville and many more.

5. During the courtship process, male Northern Cardinals are known to exhibit affection toward females by feeding her beak-to-beak, like this picture from one of our Facebook fans. The tender display of affection is a sight to behold.

6. The bird is named for the red plumage of the male, which was said to look similar to a Catholic cardinal’s red vestments.

Female Northern Cardinal7. The oldest Northern Cardinal ever recorded was 15 years and 9 months old.

8. During the spring, you might see a male Northern Cardinal attacking a window. It’s actually attacking his reflection in the glass because he will fiercely defend his breeding territory from intruding males.

9. When a male cardinal is attacking his reflection, it’s due to an increase in hormone levels that are so strong, it could cause the cardinal to fight his reflection for several hours.

10. The Northern Cardinal has been introduced farther west in places like Southern California and even Hawaii. Although the small population in California has been present for some time, it is in danger of disappearing due to habitat loss.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

114 Comments

  1. Does anybody have or sell red cardinals on the northern of California?

  2. I know this might be a strange question , but can cardinals be gay . I ask because a few moths ago I notice two female constantly together . Then one after sometime I notice 3 together always coming to my seed . I noticed the one would get the seed fly back and give to each one . So I thought maybe just the mom raising her young . I would think that now it is to September they would have separated . Not sure if something happened to one of the three , but now I am seeing just two females together , coming in together , and flying off together

  3. Cardinals do not mate for life they mate for the season then mate again for the next season – there have also been incidents of cardinals have two mates and feeding to females and babies during mating season, perhaps when there is more females to males in an area – nature is wonderful to continue the species isn’t it?

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