KIDS: The Northern Cardinal

{Spotlight Page Header} In the Spotlight
{Picture of a Male Northern Cardinal on a Feeder}
Male Northern Cardinal on a Platform Feeder
Photo by Suzanne Grella
The Northern Cardinal
If You Were My Favorite Bird

You would be a bright cherry red.
You would eat many seeds but your favorite would be sunflower seeds.
You would live in the bushes around the edge of my backyard.
You would sing to your girlfriend, “cheer, cheer, cheer or birdie, birdie, birdie”.
If you were my favorite bird your name would be The Northern Cardinal.
{Picture of a Female Northern Cardinal on a Feeder}
Female Northern Cardinal
Photo by Suzanne Grella
When I was a little girl the cardinal was my favorite. I liked how the cheery bright red color looked against the white snows of winter. I called it the Christmas bird.  Some people call it the Red Bird and an 8-year old I met called it a Red-Jay.  The cardinal is smaller than the Blue-Jay another bright bird that has the same shape.
The boy cardinal is the bright red one. The girl’s plumage or feathers are more of a light brown color with little bits of red.  When the girl cardinal sings from the nest, she may be telling the boy she is hungry.  She can’t leave the nest while she is protecting the baby birds. I think she is a smart bird.
Cardinals like to eat seeds, grains, fruits, insects, lizards and snails and will look on the ground for food.  They sort of hop instead of walk and I think it’s fun to look for their tiny tracks in the fresh snow.
Cardinals don’t migrate which means they stay here in Connecticut all winter long and can gather in big flocks of up to 70 birds.  You don’t see them because they stay hidden in the bushy areas of the woods.  I think they are smart birds! 
{Picture of a Male Northern Cardinal}
Male Northern Cardinal
Photo by Suzanne Grella
If you have a feeder hung in your yard, they will visit it often.  You can put a shallow tin pie pan of fresh water out during the winter on the ground and they will come to drink.
The bright red boy cardinal defends their home.  Sometimes it will spend long hours fighting his reflection he sees in large glass windows or doors.  He also defends his nest by using his bright color to catch the attention of any predators and tries to get them to follow him and move away from the nest.  I think he is pretty smart.
I think my favorite bird is still the Northern Cardinal!
{Picture of a Female Northern Cardinal}
Female Northern Cardinal on Railing
Photo by Suzanne Grella

1. The cardinal is the only red bird with a crest in the entire United States.
2. The cardinal is the state bird of 7 states?  No other bird can claim this honor.  They are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
{Drawing of The State of Illinois with a Cardinal}        {Drawing of the State of INdiana with a Cardinal}  
{Drawing of the State of Kentucky with a Cardinal}
{Drawing of the State of North Carolina with a Cardinal}
  {Drawing of the State of Ohio with a Cardinal}     {Drawing of the State of Virginia with a Cardinal}

{Drawing of the State of West Virginia with a Cardinal}

Plumage – the feathers that cover a bird’s body.
Migrate – to move from one living area to another for food or a change in weather.
Crest – a tuft of feathers on top of a bird’s head.
Predator – an animal that attacks, kills or eats another animal for food.
{Picture of Ranger Kirsten}
You may ask Ranger Kirsten a nature question through her email
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Content Last Modified on 12/14/2010 12:50:44 PM