The female cardinal lays an average of 3 eggs. Incubation begins when the last egg is laid, and is performed solely by the female while the male brings her food. The eggs hatch after two weeks and both parents feed the chicks a diet that consists of mainly insects. The chicks begin leaving the nest 10 days after hatching but the parents continue to feed the chicks for 25 to 56 days.
Young Northern Cardinals have ashy brown feathers and black bills rather than the orange-red of the adults. They change gradually to their adult coloration three to four months after hatching.
Parents teach their young to forage for food and other survival techniques for a couple months. Then they drive them away from their natal territory to form connections with other juveniles for potential breeding the next spring. Young cardinals don’t have a set territory and can move around together freely in search of food and shelter. 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.
Cardinals are often the first to visit a feeder in the morning and the last to stop by and grab a bite at night. You can listen for their “chip, chip, chip” calls to each other just before the sun rise and sets.
- Northern Cardinal Fun Facts http://bit.ly/twE6NV
- How the Northern Cardinal bird was named http://bit.ly/tSKZYs
- Cardinal Bird Feeders Made in the USA: http://bit.ly/qXJPFM
- How to Attract Cardinals: http://bit.ly/pjh7mO
- What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/rAArXw
- What are the different types of cardinal birds? http://goo.gl/CUI43