The Northern Cardinal is one of the most easily recognized birds. It inhabits the entire eastern half of the United States, and is covered in bright red plumage that is easily noticed. Though it is easy to pick out of a crowd, how much do you actually know about the famous crimson bird? Check out these 10 fascinating facts about the Northern Cardinal!

  1. The Northern Cardinal is the state bird in seven states in the country - Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  2. There are many species of songbird in which the females do not sing - the Northern Cardinal is one exception. She uses her song to alert her mate of when she needs food or defense while sitting in her nest.
  3. Northern Cardinals have been seen “anting”, where they cover their bodies in either live or dead ants. While scientists aren’t positive why they do this, it is speculated that they use secretions from the bugs to help get rid of lice and other parasites that may inhabit their feathers.
  4. Sometimes, a lack of pigmentation in their feathers can result in yellow, green, or bi-colored cardinals.
  5. Commonly highly territorial (so much so that they will attack their reflection during mating season), the Northern Cardinal will forego their defensive tactics during the winter and congregate in flocks. This ensures more success in locating food sources.
  6. In some areas, the Northern Cardinal is referred to as the “Winter Redbird”, because they are so noticeable against a white, snowy backdrop.
  7. Northern Cardinals are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916 - meaning they can’t be hunted, taken, captured, killed, or sold in the United States.
  8. Cardinals are monogamous birds, meaning they mate for life! The only exception is if one member of the pair dies - the remaining bird will quickly find a new mate.
  9. Cardinals were named after the Catholic Bishops of Europe, as the bright red plumage of the bird matched the red cloaks the bishops would wear.
  10. Cardinals LOVE seeds! Fill your feeder with Lyric Cardinal Mix and watch the bright colored birds pop in for a treat!