Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Indiana State Bird - Northern Cardinal

[caption id="attachment_3500" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Indiana State Bird - Northern Cardinal"]Indiana State Bird - Northern Cardinal[/caption]

Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis Family - Cardinalidae

The Northern Cardinal will sometimes visit a bird feeder in fairly large numbers. I counted a dozen male northern cardinals one snowy January day around the flower garden in front of the house. There were a like number of females, though they are not as visible. The Virginia nightingale, as they are sometimes referred to, are seed eaters, so they enjoy the sunflower seeds offered in our feeder. In the spring, the male will pick one of the tallest trees to sit in the top of and sing. The song bird defends his territory in this way. Answering cardinals can be heard at varying distances throughout the forest. The northern cardinal is the Indiana State Bird.

The cardinal eats a varied diet. Fruit, seeds and waste vegetation makes up the bulk of its food, but it will also feast on insects and small animals also. Because of their eating habits the redbird makes a nice visitor to the garden.



The cardinal eats a varied diet. Fruit, seeds and waste vegetation makes up the bulk of its food, but it will also feast on insects and small animals also. Because of their eating habits the redbird makes a nice visitor to the garden.

Virginia nightingales were once popular cage birds until Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 banned the sale of the brightly colored redbirds. Cardinals are very common in the eastern portion of the United States and it is the only crested song bird in North America.

During the spring mating season the male cardinal will chase off other males which invade his territory. The female builds a nest in a low bush, preferable close to a water supply. The male redbird will feed the female while she roosts on the eggs, and both sexes feed the young until they fledge. At this time the male will chase off any male offspring.

Northern cardinals generally don’t migrate unless the weather turns really nasty in the winter. So the redbird will add color to your garden year round and will treat your ears to its song for most of it. Cardinals are present here in our State of Indiana are present year round.

Habitat for the Virginia nightingale is not hard to provide. Shrubby plants like forsythia, barberry, holly, and box will provide the northern cardinal with both nesting spots and shelter from inclement weather. A fountain, garden pond, or bird bath is a good water source. And a bird feeder well stocked with sunflower seeds will encourage the redbirds to visit the garden frequently. The State Bird of Indiana is a colorful welcome visitor to any garden.

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