A favorite of many, the
Northern Cardinal is the state bird of 7 states. A common bird of the eastern
and southeastern U.S., the Northern Cardinal has expanded its range westward and
northward in the past
few decades, possibly due to availability of sunflower seeds and other items at
residential feeders. South Dakota currently lies at the northwestern edge of its
Habitat: Wide variety of semi-open
habitats with nearby thickets for nesting, including woodland edges and
clearings, shelterbelts, parks, and residential areas.
Diet: Wide variety of items, including seeds, buds, flowers,
waste grain, fruits and berries, and insects.
Behavior: Primarily feeds on the ground, or while
moving through low brush and undergrowth. Will also readily adapt to
using feeders. Males can be very aggressive when defending nesting
Nesting: May through August. The nest of a
Northern Cardinal is a cup of grasses, twigs, weeds, strips of bark, and other
plant materialo, lined with finer bits of plants. The female usually lays
3 or 4 eggs, and she alone incubates them, although the male will bring her food
during the incubation period. When the eggs hatch, both parents help to
feed them. The young fledge after about 12 days.
Migration: Permanent Resident
Pyrrhuloxia of the southwestern U.S.
is similar. No similar species in South Dakota.
Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower seeds,
safflower seeds, and various other seeds.
Parks and Wildlife - Northern Cardinal
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Northern Cardinal photos.