Did you know that the Cardinal is the state bird of many different states such as West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia? In 1949 students in West Virgnia voted on the Cardinal as our state bird. It is surprising that while officially named the Northern Cardinal, at one time it was considered a southern bird. A hundred years ago it was rare to see a Cardinal north of Philadelphia.
Even though the male is bright red, the female is a buff color with splashes of red in the wings, tail, and crest. Against green trees or white snow, the male Cardinal makes a brilliant flash of red. The loud, clear whistle, sounding like "what cheer, what cheer", or the rolling carol ending in "wheat, wheat, wheat", is sung in summer and even on sunny winter days. The Cardinal's warning call is a loud metallic "chip". Unlike most female birds, the female Cardinal sings too.
Cardinals tend to build their nests in low bushes. They seen to enjoy living close to houses, if there are shrubs and thickets nearby. The nests are made of twigs, strips of bark, and lined with grass. Cardinals lay two to four eggs which are bluish-white speckled with brown. They hatch in twelve days. Young Cardinals leave the nest before they can fly properly and the male Cardinal cares for them while the female prepares for the next family.
Cardinals do not migrate. They tend to be homebodies, staying clsoe to the area where they were hatched, and even staying with the same mate year-round. The Cardinal diet consists of weed seeds, berries, and a great variety of insects and larvae. They are constant visitors to feeding stations.
...Erica, Matt, Melissa, and Sheroba: 8th grade, MJHS