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Bird. The cardinal is the only red bird in eastern North America with a crest on top of his or her head, which rises when the bird senses danger. Cardinals are not migratory and stay in the same area year-round. They form winter flocks with up to 60-70 birds. They eat many pest insects and disperse seeds. Male cardinals are very territorial and will defend their territories vigorously, sometimes attacking their own reflections or other objects reflected in glass surfaces, mistaking them for another male. They are admired as attractive songbirds and biologists have observed that some cardinal songs are sung with accents.
Scientific Name Lifespan
Cardinalis cardinalis 3-9 years, record 15 years
Omnivore. Mostly seeds and fruit, also insects.
Predators and Threats
Owls, hawks, foxes, cats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and cowbirds; competition for nesting sites from house wrens, catbirds, English sparrows and crows.
Forest edges, parks, thickets, brushy swamps, and residential areas with shrubs and low trees; central northern United States, northeastern US south to the Gulf Coast, and some southwestern states through Mexico.
Watch this video from Avi Birds to learn more about the northern cardinal and see some great close-ups as they go about their activities.