NORTHERN CARDINAL


Cardinalis cardinalis


Description:

The Northern Cardinal is named after the red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. Cardinals are aggressive and occupy territories year-round. In recent decades, the Northern Cardinal has extended its range by pushing northward into southern Canada. Both sexes are skilled songsters and are vocal throughout the year, unlike some birds who only sing during Spring. Cardinals primarily feed on seeds, although insects are eaten during the breeding season.


Appearance:

General: 8 to 9 inches in length.

Adult Male: Bright red plumage. Slightly duller on back and wings. Pointed crest. Long tail. Large, orange-red, conical bill. Black around base of bill and between the eye and bill.

Adult Female: Brownish-gray upperparts. Buffy underparts. Reddish crest, wings and tail. Large, orange-red, conical bill. Black around base of bill and between the eye and bill. Long tail.

Juvenile: Similar to adult female, but has dark bill and crest.


Habitat:

Thickets, brushy areas, riparian woodlands, parks, and residential areas.


Nesting:

3-4 buffy-white eggs with tannish-brown markings. The eggs have a 12-13 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 9-10 days. The nest is made from twigs and grasses and built in a shrub or brushy tangle. The female often sings from the nest, perhaps informing the male when to bring food back to the nest.


Observed Locations:

  • Tantalus Drive, O'ahu, Hawaii
  • Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
  • 'Iao Needle State Park, Maui, Hawaii





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.