Northern Cardinal

Northern CardinalCardinalis cardinalis

Cardinals are one of those birds that tend to leave an impression on people. Stunning colours, present year round and easily attracted to bird feeders are qualities which make cardinals a favourite with many birders.


Cardinals are medium sized songbird with a crest on their head. Males are bright red with a black mask whereas females are primarily brown with some dull red on the wings, the tail and the top of their crest. Adult males and females have a large orange bill; this distinguishes them from juveniles, which resemble females but have a light brown to black bill.


Cardinals consume a variety of seeds which they can easily open with their large powerful bill. In addition they also consume small fruits and insects when available.

Where to find them

Northern cardinals are often found in suburban areas, as they are frequently associated with younger deciduous, scrubby areas and field edges that often occur as a result of disturbances. Look for cardinals in areas with dense tangles of vegetation, cedar hedges and around any bird feeders.


Northern cardinals are early nesters with nesting often beginning in April. Nests are cup shaped and formed of twigs, grass and leaves. Cardinals will usually have 1 or two broods per breeding season, each nest generally has 2-3 eggs these are white/light tan covered in brown markings.

How to attract

Birdfeeders are an effective way of attracting cardinals with their powerful bill they can deal with most types of seed, black oil sunflower and safflower are favourites. In addition planting fruit bearing shrubs and providing cover can increase the attractiveness of a yard.

Female Northern CardinalFemale Northern Cardinal