Many birds may look alike to you. Sometimes it is hard to tell one kind of bird from another. The cardinal is one bird, however, that is never difficult to recognize, for there is no other bird colored like the cardinal.
The father cardinal has a bright red coat of feathers with a red crest or peak on top of his head. He looks like he has a black mask over most of his face. The mother bird is not dressed as brightly. Her feathers are brownish with only a touch of red on her crest, wings, and tail feathers.
You may know cardinals by their nickname, “redbird.” “Cheer-cheer-cheer!” they seem to call in merry whistling notes.
Once cardinals move into an area, they will seldom ever leave. They will stay in that area all year long. Even in the North, they stay through the cold, snowy winter. Can you imagine what a beautiful sight it is to see a bright red cardinal against the white snow?
Because cardinals do not mind the hardships of winter, you may have already guessed that they are very brave birds. Father cardinals will fight any bird that dares come into their territory, even another cardinal. Then how the feathers fly!
Building a Nest
When nesting time comes in the spring, the mother bird flies around to find a good, safe place for her nest. She carefully looks over many bushes, shrubs, and small trees before she chooses a place. Then she begins building. The father will hardly ever help, but he will keep her company and sing her pretty songs.
It may take as long as five days fo the mother cardinal to build her nest. She makes it out of twigs, stems, dried leaves, and pieces of bark. To finish the nest, she lines the inside with soft, dried grass.
After waiting a few days, the mother cardinal begins to lay eggs. She will lay one egg each day until she has three or four eggs in her nest. Only after she has finished laying her eggs will she begin to sit on them.
Wile she is sitting on the eggs, the father will fly back and forth bringing seeds, berries, and insects for her to eat. When she does leave the nest to get a drink, the father carefully guards the nest. There are many animals that like to eat bird eggs.
In only twelve days the baby redbirds begin to chip their way through the shells. When they first hatch, cardinals have no feathers at all and their eyes are tightly closed. But by the time they are ten days old, their bodies are covered with soft brown feathers. And they are always begging for something to eat!
Published in: Pets