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.
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Interesting facts about cardinals nesting

Hi ...hopefully you can answer this ....I have a female cardinal that has nested by my back doorway and she is pretty well concealed in a small cedar tree. I saw her yesterday morning but was away most of the day and today I haven't seen her all day. I tried to look into the nest but it was too deep to see if there were any eggs. Would she just build a nest and then just disappear like that ?

I have tried to be careful and not disturb her.....she was tapping at one window for many days and I just read that she thinks it is another Cardinal, would that make her leave ?

Thanks for reading this as I would like to know why as it was such a thrill to have her build a nest it would be a shame if she did not return.
I think you just need to wait. If all goes as planned Northern Cardinals usually raise two broods a year, one beginning around March/April and the second in June/July. If a nest gets destroyed or if a mate is killed the nesting has to start over and can be delayed. However it is normal to see a lot of activity in the beginning and then nothing.

The nest building process begins with a cardinal’s search of a variety of trees and vines that would offer protection and concealment. Once a site has been selected the female first builds a platform using stiff, six inch long twigs. After the framework is done, a nice soft layer of leaves are applied to line the nest. Finally the female finishes her nest by adding a layer of fine grapevines or fine weed stems topped with very fine rootlets, grass stems or weed stems. She usually likes to build in the morning and the nest construction can take 3 to 6 days. The male cardinal may bring the female some twigs but the female usually builds the nest all alone while the male patrols the area.

Now during the egg laying time you may see her less frequently. The female cardinal lays an average of 3 eggs but she doesn’t sit on the eggs to incubate them until the last egg is laid so they will all hatch within 24 hours. Once her clutch is complete the female is the only one to sit on the nest and the male brings her food quietly. The eggs hatch after two weeks and activity will pick up again as both parents feed the chicks a diet that consists of many insects. The chicks begin leaving the nest 10 days after hatching and the parents will show their brood the way to water and continue to feed and teach the chicks for 25 to 56 more days.

Thank you so much for replying to my email and such a nice informative answer to my questions. 
Well to my delight the female Cardinal has returned and she is now sitting on her nest. I can see her through my kitchen window and I try to stay away from looking at her too much but I like seeing her there and of course like to know that all is well.

Related Articles:
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

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