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Home Backyard Bird Guide America's Top Backyard Birds America's Top Backyard Birds - Eastern North America Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal

Bird Food Preferences

Black-oil sunflower and striped sunflower

Bird Feeder Preferences

Hopper and platform

Plants to Attract

Woody Plants: Blackberry, dogwood, grape, hackberry, mulberry, sumac, and tulip; Non-woody Plants: Bristle grass, knotweed, panic grass, sedge, smartweed, and vervain


Northern Cardinals are found throughout the eastern and central United States. They are also found in areas of Mexico and Central America.  Cardinals have expanded northward, which is most likely due to urban sprawl.  Northern Cardinals can be seen in brushy habitat including forest edges, hedgerows, and backyards.

Cardinals are about nine inches in length and weigh around 1.6 ounces.  The male is red all over while the female is primarily brown with red accents.  Adult Northern Cardinals have black faces, red crests, and reddish-orange bills.

The male and female Northern Cardinals pick the nest site one to two weeks before the building process.  The female builds the nest by bending and shaping twigs into a cup with her feet.  She covers the twigs with leaves and lines the nest with bark and grass.  Nests are placed on branches of trees or shrubs that are 1 to 15 feet high.

Similar Species

California Towhee, Phainopepla, Pyrrhuloxia, Scarlet Tanager, and Summer Tanager


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