We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
8402 Old Sauk Road
Madison, WI 53562
Phone: (608) 664-1414
Fax: (608) 664-1416
Email: Send Message
Mon - Fri: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Location: We are located just West of the Beltline exit to Old Sauk Road about 1.5 blocks, just west one store after the Walgreens on your right, at the intersection of Old Sauk Road and Junction Road.
- The Northern Cardinal is actually one of seven species in the world with the name Cardinal. Although it is a bird that historically called the Southern U.S. its home, the modifier Northern is appropriate because all of the other six species are located in South America.
- The Cardinal name was derived from the Cardinals (the rank above Bishop) of the Roman Catholic Church who wear red robes and hats.
- Both male and female cardinals can sing. Mated pairs will often sing duets together.
- During the breeding season, male cardinals may sing 200 or more songs per hour in the early morning hours.
- The size of the cardinal’s breeding territory varies with habitat quality and population density but generally ranges from two to ten acres
- The Northern Cardinal is socially monogamous with its mate, but not always faithful. DNA studies have shown that between 9–35% of nestlings has a biological parent different from the original mated pair that raises them.
- The female Northern Cardinal constructs the nest, incubates the eggs and brood’s the young by herself. The male’s role is to provide her food and protect the nest.
- Both male and female Northern Cardinals help raise their nestlings with the male providing more of their food than the female.
- Northern Cardinals have a very low nesting success rate with only 15–37% of their nests succeeding in fledging young. The impacts of predators and egg destruction by Brown-headed Cowbirds are the major causes of nest failure.
- Young Northern Cardinals have black bills rather than the orange-red of the adults. It gradually changes to the adult color three to four months after hatching.
- The red color of the Cardinal’s feathers is the result of pigments called carotenoids. This pigment is obtained mostly from eating fruits and insects and is deposited in their feathers as they molt.
- In an Ohio study conducted during the fall molting period of the Northern Cardinal, over 75% of their diet consisted of fruits and insects. These foods are the primary sources for the carotenoids pigments that impart the bright red color into their newly developing plumage.
- Due to their preference for feeding on carotenoid rich fruits and insects during their fall molting period, you may witness a reduction of North Cardinals at your feeders. Seeds are a very poor source of carontenoids and are only occasionally eaten while they are molting.
- Research studies have shown that male Northern Cardinals with brighter levels of red plumage provide better parental care for their young and successfully fledge a higher percent of them. This probably correlates to the fact that they also select and maintain breeding territories that have the greatest amount and diversity of food sources.
- Because Cardinals are mainly ground feeders, deep snow may severely affect their ability to feed. Winter-feeding probably helps Cardinals in their northern range to survive deep snow conditions.
- While birdfeeding may have played a small role in the northward expansion of the Cardinal’s range during the past 60 years, the steady increase in global temperatures during the last half of the 20th century is probably a more important factor. Studies show that the northern edge of the Cardinal’s range is limited to areas with an average January temperature of at least 5º F. As this temperature gradient has moved north so have the Cardinals.
- Another important factor in the cardinal’s northward expansion is the change in land-use practices in the Northeast. The loss of the dense forest to agriculture and suburban uses has greatly expanded the amount of suitable habitat for cardinals.
- The ability for cardinals to digest food varies with the temperature; studies have shown that digestion efficiency rates are 16% higher at 77º F than at 32º F. This suggests that cardinals must consume substantially more food during cold weather, especially when it’s below freezing.
- The eating habits of Northern Cardinals changes between plant and animal foods during the year. Studies have revealed that up to 80% of their winter diet consists of vegetable material which drops to a low of 35% by the middle of summer. The summer availability of insects (beetles, grasshoppers, crickets) is the prime reason for this fluctuation.
- While Northern Cardinals will use many types of feeders, cardinals prefer foraging on the ground instead of being perched high on feeders. One study in North Carolina revealed that Cardinals spent 77% of their time foraging on the ground.
- Northern Cardinals will visit feeders at any time of day but are typically the most numerous at dusk or dawn and are often the first and last birds at the feeders.
- The oldest recaptured banded Northern Cardinal was still alive at 15 years and 9 months old.
- The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.