Cardinals are about 7-9 inches long. They have fat, cone-shaped beaks. They are crested. They have long tails. Their legs and feet are dark red.
The male cardinal is bright red. He has a reddish-orange beak and a black face.
The female cardinal is brownish-gray on top and tan underneath. She has a reddish crest, wings, and tail. She has a reddish-orange beak. Females are a little smaller than males.
What do cardinals do?
Cardinals like to live in forests, fields, gardens and swamps, but they also live in cities. Cardinals live in the eastern parts of the United States and Mexico.
Cardinals do not migrate.
Cardinals have a loud, clear whistled song. It sounds like "cheer cheer cheer" or "purty purty purty". They like to sing from a high tree top or a post.
Cardinals eat seeds, leaf buds, flowers, corn, grasses, berries and fruit. In the summer, they also eat insects.
Cardinals use dust to take a bath.
Cardinals hop; they do not walk.
Mating and babies
When cardinals find a mate, they spread their tail, droop their wings, and lean to the left and then the right.
Cardinals nest 2 or 3 times a year. The female builds a cup-shaped nest of small twigs and roots. She uses grasses and hair inside the nest. She builds the nest in a bush.
The female lays 3-4 eggs. The eggs are about 1 inch long. They are grayish with brown, purple or gray spots. The female sits on the eggs. The eggs hatch in 12-13 days.
Both parents take care of the babies. Sometimes the male takes card of the first brood while the female sits on the new clutch of eggs.
The cardinal is the state bird of Illinois and 6 other states.
If a male cardinal sees its reflection in glass, it will spend hours fighting the imaginary bird. Sometimes they will even attack small red things they think are other males.
Male cardinals are not as brightly colored in the winter.