Winter in the northland can be very long and cold. To add insult to injury it is the time of year that the days are shortest. The sunlight we do get it not nearly as intense as during the summer. One bright spot we do have is the visit of the northern cardinal. These beautiful birds brighten the landscape with their brilliant color. Add some snow and the the contrast is spectacular.
The northern cardinal can be found mainly in the eastern US from the upper midwest to Texas and up to Maine and the the eastern Canadian Provinces. These birds are seed eaters and are a favorite visitor to the bird feeder for many. Sunflower seeds are a cardinal favorite if you are hoping to attract cardinals to your bird feeder.
Cardinals mate for life. Part of the courtship you may see at your feeder is the male feeding the female. This is a useful skill as feeding the female will be the male’s role after the eggs are incubating.
In the cardinal world it is the female who does the nest building. It is the male’s job to collect twigs and leaves etc for the building materials. The females are quite skilled at taking twigs and sticks and bending them by biting them with their beaks and using their body as a form. When the twig is the right shape she weaves it into her nest. Cardinal nests are identifiable by this style of construction.
Cardinals are very popular birds. They are the mascot for several professional as well as college sports teams. The cardinal is also the state bird of seven states.
If you are shopping for bird seed for your feeder, remember that sunflower and safflower seeds are their favorite. Keep your feeder full and hopefully you will have the opportunity to observe these beautiful birds all winter.