February is National Bird Feeding Month. To celebrate, each Monday, NPC will post information on some of the more “popular” backyard birds. Thank you to Charlie for writing the posts, and providing the photos.
Northern cardinals are usually the most colorful birds to visit backyard feeders where they feast on sunflower and other seeds. Male cardinals are bright red beneath and brownish red on their backs; females are much more brown which offers better concealment when they incubate their eggs in an open nest in dense shrubbery. Cardinals prefer brushy habitat dominated by shrubs and small trees; that is why they are fairly common in residential neighborhoods containing many shrubs. Males sing loudly in spring and females also occasionally sing. Cardinals are crepuscular meaning that they are most active at dawn or dusk; they are often the last birds to visit a feeder in the evening. As the climate changes and winters get warmer, cardinals have been extending their range northward into northern New England and southern Canada.
Audubon and National Geographic both have some great information on the Northern Cardinal and its range. You can also visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s YouTube channel to hear the Northern Cardinal’s song.