The Northern Cardinal is probably one of the most beloved birds out there. It even inspired a baseball team to change its name way back in 1900, plus seven states have claimed the Northern Cardinal as their state bird. We especially love to see them after a snowfall, as they lend a rare splash of bright color, warming souls and hopes in the bleak midwinter. Then, in the warmer months, we’re charmed by their sweet song, which is probably how they earned the nickname Virginia nightingale.

If you set out feeders, chances are excellent you are drawing in some Northern Cardinals. Here are a few things to watch for as you enjoy the color and music these birds bring to your yard.  

In the spring, you may rediscover something rare about the females: They sing. Before nesting, you might find one in a tree, exchanging songs and swaying with her mate. Then the male brings her twigs and grasses, all while she spends several days building and shaping the nest. During nesting, she sings some more while her mate brings her food. When paired, Northern Cardinals are loyal to one another.

They are so loyal, in fact, that it’s common to see them during the nesting season attacking their own reflections in windows or car mirrors. This can be an alarming sight to backyard birdwatchers, especially since cardinals aren't quick to back off a fight. In fact, they may return for days to continue sparring with their “rival.” Over time, though, the hormones that come with the spring breeding season return to normal, and the fighting de-escalates. 

Like many other songbird species, Northern Cardinals spend their winters in flocks of fellow cardinals, some as large as 50 to 60 birds as they search for food together. You can catch their attention by filling your feeder with Lyric Cardinal Premium Sunflower & Safflower Wild Bird Mix. This blend contains a variety of sunflower seeds and kernels but also safflower seed which is a cardinal favorite.