About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Northern Cardinals Flock in the Fall

We have a lot of bluebirds here in Charlotte however this time of year it seems we are swarmed with Cardinals. ~ Donna Charlotte/Waxhaw, NC 

I so love it when people tell me their observations about what’s going on in their yard. I'm sure many people are very jealous. Northern Cardinals are the most sought after birds in the mid-Michigan bird feeding community.

Of course what you’re seeing foreshadows a change in seasons. By late summer, nesting is over and Northern Cardinals relax their defense of their territory boundaries. The birds sing less and flocks of cardinals begin to form. The Cardinals don’t migrate but can expand their range while foraging for food.

Young cardinals don’t have a set territory and can move around together freely in search of food. Older cardinals can join these young flocks for a time but drop out once it leaves their normal range.

These ever changing flocks can consist of about four to twenty birds depending on the area, time of year, weather, and available resources.

Southern states will see larger flocks, of course, because the population is higher in the Southeast. Flock size also increases in December and January when temperatures decline or there is snow on the ground. More birds can find food easier and look out for predators.

About 40% of adult cardinals die each year. Most die during the winter in February and March when food supplies are low. Death may not be due to starvation but a weakened immune system or being forced to search for food in more open areas where birds of prey and other predators can kill them.

Cardinal populations with access to a feeding station may be in better condition and more likely to survive the winter than cardinals without access.  The Northern Cardinal is often the first bird to visit a feeder in the morning and the last to stop by and grab a bite at night.

Cardinals prefer to feed on the ground so if you can "raise the ground" by feeding cardinals on tray feeders, hopper feeders or any feeder that gives them a comfortable feeding position they'll be happy. Their favorite food is oil sunflower, nuts, safflower and fruit. WildBirds Unlimited has a wide variety of cardinal friendly feeders.

The bright red plumage of the Northern Cardinals is a magnificent sight against the snowy backdrop in winter. Winter??? Did I say winter? Yes the signs are clear that that time is near, so put out a feeder now to enjoy the beauty.


Related Articles:
Cardinal Bird Feeders Made in the USA: http://bit.ly/qXJPFM
How to Attract Cardinals: http://bit.ly/pjh7mO

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