Though the photos below are of the northern cardinal, with the distinctive bright red color and a well-known crest, cardinals as a larger family come in many colors and include buntings and grosbeaks. Cardinals are unique to the Western Hemisphere. The northern cardinal inhabits the east and especially the southeast though they’ve been making their way north, even into Canada, for decades. They also live in the desert southwest which includes my home state of Arizona. I admit, however, that I‘ve only seen them twice in the nearly thirties years I’ve lived in the Valley of the Sun, otherwise known as the Phoenix metro area. The male, northern Cardinal is a handsome bird and looks striking against the snow.

Here’s a 2-minute video featuring four different calls of the northern cardinal. This is an excellent 3-minute video of cardinals caring for 2 hatchlings, with lots of info on these songbirds. Warning: It does not have a happy ending, just the reality that 60% if most songbird eggs and fledglings don’t survive the harsh reality of life. 

FunFacts about Cardinals: (Source) (Source)  

  • Basic Information, quote: Cardinals, in the family Cardinalidae, are passerine birds found in North and South America. They are also known as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings. The South American cardinals in the genus Paroaria are placed in the Tanager family Thraupidae. Contrariwise, DNA analysis of the genera Piranga (which includes the scarlet tanager, summer tanager, and western tanager), Chlorothraupis, and Habia showed their closer relationship to the cardinal family. They have been reassigned to that family by the American Ornithological Society. (Source)
  • Cardinals are strong, seed-eating birds, with tough bills.
  • Cardinals are not endangered.
  • Cardinals come in a variety of colors, though the best known is the red cardinal.
  • Some cardinals are known as ‘buntings’, like the orange-breasted bunting.
  • Some cardinals are known as ‘grosbeaks’.
  • The northern cardinal is the state bird of seven eastern U.S. states and can be found in abundance in the east and southeast.
  • They prefer dense bushes for nesting.
  • The northern cardinal is not generally found west of the Great Plains.
  • The northern cardinal does live in the desert southwest.
  • Cardinals will eat seeds, insects and berries.
  • Early in the breeding season, males will often feed the females.
  • Females build the nests in a cup shape made of twigs, weeds, grass, bark strips, leaves, rootlets, lined with fine grass or hair.
  • A clutch generally consists of anywhere from 2-5 eggs and will repeat 2-3 times each year.
  • Fledglings leave the nest within 9-11 days after hatching.
  • Both parents feed the chicks.

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(Unless otherwise designated, today’s photos are from Pixabay ~ Pixabay is a free site, so feel free to share, pin and enjoy these wonderful photos. Any photo designated as coming from Deposit Photos has been purchased and is subject to copyright law.)    

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To be entered into the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment about Cardinals. Do you often see them where you live? Which photo did you like best?

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37 thoughts on “Cardinals

  1. They are beautiful birds and I love seeing them. We had a friend visit from England last year and he was enthralled with them. There truly is nothing prettier than seeing one in the snow!!

  2. The 4th and 8th photos are my favorites. The cardinal is Indiana’s state bird so they are quite plentiful in my neck of the woods. I love seeing them in the winter when we have snow. Though there is a bit of a rivalry between the blue jays and cardinals on my property. They seem to duke it out in the spring and whichever wins is the one we see more of that year.

  3. Cardinals are such nice looking birds! I’m terrible at bird identification, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any in the wild. I’d like to see some of the non-red birds in the cardinal family, though.

  4. I have loved cardinals ever since I saw my first one. At that time I lived in New Jersey and there were cardinals around especially during the winter. I live in New Mexico and I am only able to see cardinals in pictures. These photos are beautiful and they remind me of my Grandmother who loved cardinals very, very much.

  5. I was about 10 or so and we had a big snowfall, around 2+ feet. I walked outside and it was really quite and I could hear the heavy snow falling on the tree branches. Everything was muffled and I felt like the world was wrapped in cotton. Then, in swooped 5 or 6 cardinals and landed about 4 feet away from me. The bright red against the snow was as startling as it was beautiful. I stood there for a long time and listened to the snow falling and the cardinals and the world around me. It was a magical moment that I will always remember.

    Ga will occasionally have several feet of snow but it is not the norm.

    • Joyce,
      What a wonderful experience to have had. I love it when nature serves up a momentary miracle that only we get to enjoy for a few moments. But what memories these make for us. Thanks for sharing.

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  6. My parents use to do a lot of bird watching (before they got too old). They would have all kinds of birds come around. It wasn’t until after my brother passed away the a par of Cardinals starts coming around. They would go under the patio and sit on top of a shelf mom has, the birds would just look at them and start singing/talking. My mom would always say that that was my brother coming and talking to them. They are beautiful birds.

    • Sheryl,
      It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  7. I live in Maryland, so the bright red Cardinals are native here. When I hear it is going to snow, I fill all my bird feeders. The contrast of the white snow and the red male birds is breath-taking. when you see that bright flash of red for the male, you can search the nearby bushes and usually spot his brownish female. BLACK OIL SUNFLOWER SEEDS is one of their favorite foods.

    • Susan,
      Knowing we had cardinals in the Desert Southwest, and also learning about sunflower seeds as a preferred food, I bought a big bag. Boy did the pigeons LOVE them, haha.

      I’ve only seen the two cardinals in my decades here. But what a sight they were!

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  8. One of my all-time favorite birds since red is my second favorite color. I especially love to use cardinals in my Christmas decorations.

  9. I love cardinals! When we lived in Virginia, I always knew spring was finally on its way when I saw a cardinal. It was a special sight when I got to see both the male and female too. So pretty! The photo of the gorgeous red cardinal sitting on a holly twig really shows off his beautiful color. Thanks for sharing.

    Fort Myers, Florida

  10. Such a striking bird! I’ve only seen a cardinal once. He was visiting the seed feeder at my grandma’s apartment complex in Minnesota while I was visiting her. Even though it was high summer, his red plumage stood out against all the green leaves like a live flame. Gorgeous!

  11. We see them all the time. We even have yellow Cardinals show up from time to time. We thought they were some other bird but investigated and found that there are yellow cardinals and we have them :).

    PS. My hubs always says they’re trying to convert me to Catholicism :).

  12. Cardinals are abundant here. I had a “pet” cardinal. She would come and peck on my window and fly away if I tried to get her picture.Unfortunately, the neighbors took down the trees between our properties, and the cardinal lost her home as a result. I don’t know where she relocated. I do miss her, even though I was always worried she’s poke a chip into my windows.

    denise from maryland

  13. I love the second to last one with its head cocked as if to say “what? Why you staring at me?”

    we used to see them all the time in Minnesota. And we always joke about my niece and her husband who’s last name is Cardinal as well as my dad’s best friend who was also a Cardinal. (different families)

    Casa Grande, AZ

  14. We have oodles of cardinals in North Carolina. The red males are beautiful but even the female cardinals are beautiful in their own right. One of the best sites I ever saw was a blue jay and a cardinal sitting side-by-side in a dogwood tree that was in bloom with the pretty white blossoms.

  15. The cardinal is the state bird of West Virginia. I see them all the time flying around the house. Their bright red color always catches the eye. They are very beautiful birds.
    Crawford, West Virginia

  16. Wonderful looking birds, their beautiful red colour is so striking, we don’t have these birds here, but hey we have so many other equally striking no …. maybe even more striking or gorgeous birds here LOL
    Hugz Belinda
    Smithfield, South Australia,. Australia!

    • Yes, Belinda! No complaining from you about no cardinals in Australia, lol! Holy Moly, you’ve got some amazing birds in your part of the world!

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  17. I love Cardinals. I spend a lot of time drawing and painting them. They come to my yard a lot. There is a saying if you see a Cardinal that you will have good luck. I read somewhere that they get their name from the red robes the Cardinals wear in the Catholic Church.

  18. Beautiful pictures of the Cardinals. I haven’t seen them since I was a kid living in Ohio. I miss seeing them living in Montana. I also miss seeing blue jays and humming birds. We have humming birds but they are rarely seen. Our big thing is watching chick-a-dee’s feeding in our bird feeder and taking a bath in our bird bath.

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