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Meet: Northern Cardinal

Bright red flashes announce the northern cardinal. The male--with its bright red plumage-- is the most recognizable. The female is slightly more drab with orangish feathers. The northern cardinal is the state bird of seven different states and almost everyone can recognize this bird on sight.

Because of its bright plumage, the northern cardinal is a winter favorite, but actually it stays around all year. It is often found attacking its own reflection in car mirrors and windows. Male cardinals are fiercely protective of their breeding territory. You will rarely hear the male cardinal sing. Most of the cardinal's song comes from the female. She tells the male about everything from food sources to danger in her song.

Cardinals are easily attracted to your yard birdfeeder, further making them a household favorite in the northern Midwest. They prefer sunflower seeds and if they find a reliable source, they may build a nest nearby. They prefer to build their nests in brush and low shrubs.

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