The male cardinal is very territorial and protects his breeding space from any male that comes his way. During the mating season, which begins in March, the males are so hot-blooded, that although they breed near birds of other species, they will never allow one of their own kinds to nestle in their territory. A male cardinal can be seen frequently following another from bush to bush, emitting a shrill note of anger, and diving aggressively towards the trespasser. This combative action will continue until the transgressor has been satisfactorily ousted.
Upon his exile, the victor will perch himself up in his favorite tree and begin pouring his heart out in an unmistakable song of cardinal exultation.
Though cardinals are often perceived as vain because they appear to be attracted by mirrors, the attraction is actually more of an expression of his territorial instinct. If put in front of a mirror, the male cardinal can spend hours trying to expel his reflected image that he perceives as an intruder. The unusual crest of this red bird is a visible marker of his emotional state. When calm it lies flat, when excited it lifts tall and peaked.
Both male and female sing all year round. It is though a song that females sing from their nest that informs the male when to bring food. The pair shares some melodic phrases but the female has a more elaborate song, which is unusual in singing birds. The melody is pleasant and it resembles a whistle, but sometimes they make more mechanical “clinks”. As cardinals do not seem to need a lot of sleep, you may hear them singing in the morning well before sunrise.
Cardinals are medium-sized redbirds characterized by a unique crest, a black mask on the face and a short cone-shaped bill. They are known for their vivid red color, however only the male presents itself in the bright colors. The female has grayish shades through her body with duller red wings and tail. Young cardinals are similar to females but rather then orangey or reddish bills they have black or grey ones.
Cardinals do not migrate, and as a result they live their entire lives within one or two kilometer radius of where they were born. In the United Stated of America, the cardinal is the official bird of seven states. These states include: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Unlike most birds, Cardinals appear to actually be benefiting from the growth of cities. With so many city parks offering bird feeders cardinals are thriving. Since the eighteenth century, the cardinal numbers and popularity have been growing steadily.
The Cardinal is a seedeater with a strong bill. They also likes fruits - small berries - and insects. Towards autumn they frequently ascend to the tops of tall trees in search of grapes and berries. Cardinals tend to be as fond of succulent or pulpy fruits as they are of the seeds of corn and grasses. Cardinals are very beneficial as they also eat a variety of weed seeds and insects that that can be injurious to humans.