Species of the Week: The Northern Cardinal

Photo by Adam Kalab

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Most brightly-coloured birds have migrated south by this time of year, but the Cardinal stays here year-round and the male’s bright red plumage dramatically stands out in a winter forest. The female’s plumage is slightly drabber, but she still sports brilliant red highlights on her wings and crest and a bright red beak. Their loud whistling calls are a common sound on spring and summer mornings. Females will also sing while sitting on the nest, which is rare in North American songbirds. Cardinals are one species that has benefited from human expansion, as they use forest edge habitats that can be found at the edge of farmlands and suburban areas. Since they are seed-eaters, cardinals are common visitors to bird feeders and seem to have a preference for black oil sunflower seeds. Cardinals are very territorial and attack any perceived intruders – including their own reflections. During the breeding season, when hormone levels are high, both males and females may spend hours attacking their own reflection in windows, car mirrors, and other reflective surfaces. Treating windows to make them less reflective is one way you can help protect cardinals and other birds.

This entry was posted in Friends of Murphys Point, Murphys Point, Murphys Point Provincial Park, Species of the Week. Bookmark the permalink.

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