The Northern Cardinal is a perennial favorite of backyard birders because of its bright red colors, joyful songs and year-round presence. While those in its range might have become accustomed to these prominent birds, the birds should be marveled every day for so many reasons. Here are 10 interesting facts about Northern Cardinals you probably didn’t know.
1. Unlike many other songbirds in North America, both the male and female cardinals can sing. Usually, only a male songbird is capable of singing.
2. On a related note, when a female cardinal sings from the nest, it usually means she’s telling the male she needs more food.
3. The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, which is more than any other bird.
4. It is also the mascot of prominent sports teams and schools, including the St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals, University of Louisville and many more.
5. During the courtship process, male Northern Cardinals are known to exhibit affection toward females by feeding her beak-to-beak, like this picture from one of our Facebook fans. The tender display of affection is a sight to behold.
6. The bird is named for the red plumage of the male, which was said to look similar to a Catholic cardinal’s red vestments.
8. During the spring, you might see a male Northern Cardinal attacking a window. It’s actually attacking his reflection in the glass because he will fiercely defend his breeding territory from intruding males.
9. When a male cardinal is attacking his reflection, it’s due to an increase in hormone levels that are so strong, it could cause the cardinal to fight his reflection for several hours.
10. The Northern Cardinal has been introduced farther west in places like Southern California and even Hawaii. Although the small population in California has been present for some time, it is in danger of disappearing due to habitat loss.