Fun Facts About Our Feathered Friends, Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinal, Male In Tree.
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Northern Cardinal is one of the most-recognized visitors to bird feeders across North America. These delightful songbirds featured raised crests on their heads and orangish-red bills. The males are a vibrant red except for a black area on their faces, while females are light brown, with reddish highlights and dark colorations around their eyes and beak. These birds are medium-sized, averaging about 8 inches.

People across a wide range of North America are able to watch and enjoy cardinals right in their own backyards, thanks to the fact that the birds are found throughout the eastern and central regions of America year-round. If you enjoy watching cardinals, you’ll love these fun facts about them.

• They do not migrate! Unlike many other birds, northern cardinals do not migrate and live near thickets and shrubbery that they can hide and nest in.

• Cardinals are so well-liked that they’ve been named the official bird of seven U.S. states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

• They got their name from the males’ bright red plumage, which reminded European settlers of the rich red vestments of Catholic cardinals. The bird’s crest also reminded some of the headwear worn by other religious officials.

• Both males and females are songbirds, although the females usually have more elaborate songs than males. Cardinals’ songs vary according to their geographic location.

• One cardinal may have more than two dozen song variations, and different geographic populations often have quite different songs.

• Cardinals mate for life. Mated pairs are often seen feeding together, and the males sometimes feed the females seeds in a gesture that looks like a kiss.

• Cardinals are popular mascots for sports teams. Pro teams include the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, and there are a variety of college and universities who call themselves Cardinals.