Cardinal Corner strives to give you the latest information to make your backyard birding experiences the absolute best. Questions about attracting American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds? We give the latest information about squirrel proofing your bird feeders.
Please contact us at Cardinal Corner if you have any problems or questions at 651-455-6556 or 651-459-3880 during regular business hours or email us at email@example.com. Our knowledgeable staff can answer your wild bird questions. Our information below may answer some of your questions.
The Northern Cardinal is probably the most wanted bird in all backyards. Cardinals never came this far north to Minnesota but the statement " Feed them and they will come" rang true. This is all made possible by backyard bird feeding. The cardinal is a year round non-migratory resident who resides from the Dakota, Southern Ontario, Nova Scotia, south to the Gulf Coast and from southern Texas through Arizona and south to Mexico.
In January, Cardinals start to sing from the tree tops to establish their breeding territory. They will defend their territory during breeding time – even if they see themselves in a mirror or a window they will try fight themselves to the point of exhaustion. Some will die. Cover that area so they can no longer see their reflection. Both the male and female sing, (which is unusual for birds), for most of the year.. It is believed that cardinals mate for life but are known to be “unfaithful”- for breeding is their most important job. Mates are chosen for choosing the best breeding territory which is usually found to be the safest and also for his “looks”. The “best looking” cardinals are chosen first. The redder the better along with a beautiful crest.
Female cardinals begin building their nests in early April with a little help from the males – usually successfully raising 2-3 broods. Their nests are located between 3 to 20 feet above in dense thickets, trees and thick shrubs. With their nests built so low, there are many predators such as cats and hawks. Cardinals never nest in bird houses. It takes from 3-9 days to build a loose cup- like nest and after a 6 day rest, 2-5 gray- blue, spotted, dotted with blotches of grays, browns, and purple eggs appear. Incubation starts after the last egg is laid and hatch in 12-13 days. The female is on the nest most of the time with the male taking over the feeding so the female can start another nest. He will feed her several times a day. The male will bring food to the young the first few days. The male is near so he can sing to her and watch for nearby predators.
Cardinals usually molt in August and September in Minnesota. Cardinals are not around much during this time and will cease their singing. If you see a black headed, “ugly” looking cardinal, mites have attacked their head feathers. They will grow back but are unsightly until then. Cardinals are one of the birds that use “anting” as a way to rid their feathers of lice and mites and to sooth the skin during molting. They allow ants to climb or will rub through their feathers. Then the ants are finished their feather appear wet.
If cardinals live through the first year – they can live a long life. The max life span is 15 years – 9 months. Keep a close eye on your cardinals for their behavior change from day to day and from season to season.
As with any backyard bird species, you must provide food, water and shelter. Select a feeder that allows cardinals enough space to perch and eat. Bird feeders equipped with short perches will not accommodate cardinals. Offer a tube feeder with a tray, or an open platform (a fly-through) feeder will enable cardinals to feed in your yard. They are considered ground feeders but have adapted to bird feeders. Bird feeders are most successful in attracting cardinals when placed 8-10’ from trees or other shelter. Cardinal’s two favorite seeds are black sunflower and safflower but will eat peanuts, millet, and cracked corn. Cardinals are usually the first bird to feed in the morning and the last to feed at night, because they are ground feeders and with their bright color, feeding at these times are safer. When cardinals are not at your feeders they eat at least 51 different kinds of insects and 33 kinds of blossoms, seeds and fruits. Offer mealworms. Cardinals need a place to roost in the winter and to nest in the summer. They prefer dense shrubs and coniferous trees such as pines, dense thickets and small deciduous trees. Using the nest between 3’ to 12’ off the ground with under 10’ being most popular. They usually nest fairly close to the ground which is why cats are a huge problem for cardinals. In the winter, you may see as many of 10–12 cardinals dotting the trees, but during nesting season they claim their territories and will not allow too many others in. Toward the end of January, Cardinals will start to sing from the tops of the tallest trees. Whistle their glorious song back to them and they will begin their serenade. – they are a great source of protein.
Providing a reliable source of open water during all seasons is every bit as attractive to cardinals as food. A variety of heated bird baths are available or heating elements work well in any bird bath. Try putting a stick in the bottom of the bath jutting up over the edge of the bath for extra security.
Cardinals need a place to roost in the winter and to nest in the summer. They prefer dense shrubs and coniferous trees such as pines, dense thickets and small deciduous trees. Using the nest between 3’ to 12’ off the ground with under 10’ being most popular. They usually nest fairly close to the ground which is why cats are a huge problem for cardinals. In the winter, you may see as many of 10–12 cardinals dotting the trees, but during nesting season they claim their territories and will not allow too many others in. Toward the end of January, Cardinals will start to sing from the tops of the tallest trees. Whistle their glorious song back to them and they will begin their serenade.
A small sampling of bird feeders for cardinals.
Any Tube Bird Feeders with large perches and trays
All Feeders with trays
Hopper Bird Feeders
Fly-Thru Bird Feeders
Arundale Sky Café bird feeder
"The Cardinal Feeder" bird feeder
Wild Bill’s Feeder Bowl type bird feeders
Ground feeding trays
Bird Stuff Color Dome bird feeder
NoNo Cardinal Feeders
Brome Squirrel Buster Plus
Droll Yankee Dorothy Feeder
Droll Yankee Covered Platform feeder
LINKS to other interesting websites
University Of Minnesota Extension service - Honey Bees
Hummingbird Migration Map
Purple Martin Society
U of M Raptor Center
National Audubon Society
The Cornell University of Ornithology
The Wild Bird Feeding Institute
Organization for Bat Conservation
North American Butterfly Association
Journey North - Migration
Local Nature centers
Dodge Nature Center
Carpenter Nature Center
Friends in the wild bird store business: