The red cardinal can be found from Canada through the eastern United States, from Maine to Texas. They can be seen in gardens, backyard feeders and swamps as well as the woodlands.
The cardinal is a well-known songbird.
The male red cardinal sings from high location to defend his territory. He will chase off other male birds entering his territory. Both sexes sing in a clear-whistled song pattern. Each member of the opposite sex can determine the sex of the other by song alone.
The male bird, slightly larger than the female bird, is brilliant red with a black face mask over his eyes that extends to his chest.
The male bird, slightly larger than the female bird, is brilliant red with a black face mask over his eyes that extends to his chest making him easy to identify.
The female bird is mostly a grayish brown color with a slight reddish tint on her wings, crest and tail feathers.
Both sexes have bright coral-colored beak that are strong and shaped like a cone. They are truly a beautiful bird.
Merry Beth Ryan, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, can be reached at www.merrybethryanphotography.com, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone (941) 544-5023.
Their diets mainly consist of seeds and grains as well as fruits.
They primarily feed on the ground and find food by hopping through shrubs and trees.
They frequent backyard feeders and can be seen from a distance because of their vibrant color especially the male birds. In winter months when food is scarce they will eat insects and feed their young insects to keep them from starving to death.
The females build nests in well-concealed spots generally. Their nests are cup-shaped and easily identified.
On several occasions I have had cardinal nests in trees around my home and have watched the female bird stay with her eggs day in and day out. The male bird will bring food to the nest.
I have sat for an hour just watching the activity that goes on in and around the nest. Being able to get up close and personal with nature like that is a real blessing.
Several predators look to eat the eggs so there are times the eggs are destroyed or eaten. Cooper's hawks, squirrels and owls are predators that look to feed on the cardinals. Snakes, bluejays, squirrels and chipmunks are other predators that feed on chicks and cardinal eggs.
We recently had a nest close by our Cape Haze house and each morning I would check the eggs. One morning I woke to find the eggs were gone and the nest had fallen out of the tree. I am quite certain a black snake we had spotted got to the eggs before the baby birds were born. Sad, but all part of Mother Nature's food chain.
Red cardinals are readily seen in Florida so have your binoculars and camera to capture great memories of one the prettiest songbirds out there.