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Northern Cardinal

About Northern Cardinal

Plump, starling-sized bird with heavy, cone-shaped bill, tail, pointed crest on head, and longish tail. Male is red with front of face and throat black. Legs brown; bill pinkish; eyes brown. Female has greenish-brown upperparts tinged with red on crest, wings and tail; underparts pinkish-brown, face and throat and throat pattern fainter, dusky gray.

They breed in the spring. The female builds a cup nest of twigs, stems, grasses, bark, rootlets and vines mixed with other plant material and debris, such as paper; lined with fine grasses, rootlets, lichen or hair. They have 2-5 grayish, bluish or greenish-white eggs, spotted, speckled and blotched with brown and pale purple or gray. The male will feed the female during this time.

This bird is named for the red robes worn by the Roman Catholic Cardinals. This bird is a familiar vistor to surburban birdfeeders and city parks.

It is quite wary of humans, and is a fierce defender of its territory and can also be very aggressive to other birds during competition for food.

The female will sing after her mate has established the nesting territory but before she lays her eggs. This serves to bond the pair and synchronize their reproductive state.