Cardinals Bring On the Color

Cardinals Bring On the Color Featured Image

What a beautiful contrast the crimson red Northern Cardinal gives against pure white fresh snow.  Can you think of anything more enjoyable to put you in the holiday spirit?  No wonder it is often referred to as the winter holiday bird.

A Holiday Icon

How many images of the Northern Cardinal do you use as holiday decoration? Is one of your favorite ornaments a Cardinal?  What about the tablecloth, outside doormat, holiday wreath, gift wrapping paper?  Notice in November and December every time you see the image of a Cardinal as you do your holiday shopping.

While the Cardinal may best be known for its flash of color in garden and woodland, have you ever found one of its feathers on the ground? Blue Jays and Robins shed their feathers like so much fall foliage, but Cardinals just might be the greatest protectors of the princely robes in the feathered kingdom.

As one of the most recognized songbirds in North America, Cardinals also could be known for their virtues; they are monogamous and remain together throughout the year.  They aid in pest control, feeding on such insects as potato beetles, cotton boll weevils and the cucumber beetle. And they may be economically valuable because of their weed seed consumption, eating at least one hundred kinds in the wild.

At you feeder, Cardinals prefer black oil sunflower or safflower seeds.  They roll the seed around with their tongue until it is sideways in their strong, cone-shaped bill.  Then they crack it open and eject the hull before swallowing.  Cardinals approach the feeder with an attitude, as if aware of their royal heritage.  They do not suffer the chatter of neighboring Sparrows nor the infighting of house finches but dine with their mate in majestic splendor.

During the winter the mail Cardinal trys to dominate at the feeder, but this mate usually ignores him and goes right on eating.  In the spring, however, male Cardinals have the delightful habit of feeding hulled seeds to the female as part of their courtship.  It often occurs at feeders and is endearing to watch.  He hops over to her, tilts his head sideways and places the tidbit in her bill.

Year round you’ll have the most success attracting Cardinals by providing seed in a feeder with a large flat perching area.  A ground feeder or a hanging tray feeder filled with black oil sunflower and perhaps a little safflower and or peanuts is sure to be a Cardinal favorite. Keep your Cardinals healthy by using a feeder like the Songbird Essentials Tray Feeder that includes an easy “take out and clean” metal mesh bottom.  If you own a tube feeder you’ll want to attach a seed tray or a seed hoop to give Cardinals a flat spot to land and feed.  Another way to attract Cardinals (and other desired songbirds) is to provide heated water in a birdbath or saucer.  My favorite is a tilt and clean heated bath from Allied Precision that makes cleaning as easy as “tilting and dumping” off the side of the deck rail.

Cardinals are non-migratory and early in life will choose a year “round territory”, often not far from their parents.  In summer, they are spread evenly about, each par in a separate territory.  But in winter they are likely to gather into flocks, visiting feeders at one time, especially where the birds are numerous.  Winter flocks ma contain 30 or more birds.

They live generally in areas where there are both trees and berry-producing shrubs.  This includes forest edges, old fields and suburban neighborhoods. Plants in your yard best suited for Cardinal food and shelter include blue spruce, dogwood, wild cherry, elderberry and viburnum.  Red cedar is another favorite!

Males are bright red, crested and have a black throat and face.  Females are a duller reddish brown.  Adults of both sexes have a bright red bill, but the bills of juveniles are brown.  Want to add brilliant holiday color to your landscape?  Follow our Cardinal tips and you’ll enjoy colorful Cardinal Holiday cheer out your windows!  Enjoy! the below poem sums it up best.

Poetic Joy

The Cardinal in My Tree

By: Mrs. Dennis Getz (Demotte, IN)

Pretty little red bird singing in my tree, I wish that I could tell you of the joy you bring to me.  I know that God has sent you by my window to be near, to lift my broken spirits and to brighten them with cheer.  Thank you, God, for red birds and all the gifts You give, to tell us of Your glory and remind us that You Live!

Bird Man Mel

“Bird Man Mel”  Toellner is the owner of Songbird Station, the largest seller of backyard nature products in North America, and Songbird Essentials, the fastest growing line of wild bird products for the past four years in a row! As you can see from this article, birding is a passion, and not just a business with Mel.

King of the Region

The Cardinal is the state bird of seven states:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.



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