Cardinals are some of the most beautiful wild birds in the world. Known for their vibrant red hues and unique symbolism, Cardinals evoke a powerful representation of family. In fact, many people say that a cardinal sighting means a lost loved one is watching over you. These loyal creatures are also known for symbolizing love and luck, but there is much more for bird-lovers to learn about cardinals beyond their positive omens.
While many birders are familiar with these vibrant red beauties, they may be surprised to learn that there are 19 cardinal subspecies. Some of the most common cardinal varieties include:
- The Northern Cardinal, which lives between southeastern Canada all the way south to Louisiana. This bird is so popular that it is the state bird for a whopping 7 US states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia.
The male Northern Cardinal is instantly recognizable for its completely red hue. Female Northern Cardinals, on the other hand, have tan feathers with a red wash across the chest that varies based on the individual bird. Additionally, males have red beaks and females have orange beaks.
- The Florida Cardinal, which lives in Florida and Georgia.
- The Grey-tailed Cardinal, which lives in Oklahoma, Texas, and throughout eastern and central Mexico.
- The Cozumel Northern Cardinal, which lives in the Cozumel Islands in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
- The Red-Crested Cardinal, also known as the Brazilian Cardinal, which lives in Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Cardinals are shy animals that often take flight at first sight, so it may be hard to find them standing still. If you’re looking to watch them or encourage them to venture into your backyard, it may be a good idea to find out what they like to eat and where they hang out.
What do Cardinals Eat?
Like most wild birds, cardinals are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. The cardinal diet primarily consists of seeds, fruit, buds, and insects. Cardinals also like to eat suet, especially in the winter when insects are scarce. These birds are good about eating birdseed out of bird feeders and tend to enjoy grains as well. We recommend oats, buckwheat, millet, and breadcrumbs.
Cardinals are Non-Migratory Birds
Cardinals’ loyalty extends far beyond family; these wild birds are also loyal to where they grew up and don’t migrate south for the winter. In fact, most cardinals live within a mile of where they were born. To keep your baby cardinals nearby, we suggest using a hopper bird feeder and nesting shelves.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of learning about cardinals. Discover more about the Cardinalidae by observing them in their own habitats. Wherever you live, help cardinals stay well-fed by feeding them with Valley Farms®!