Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Christmas Card 2019

The Northern Cardinal tops the charts as the most popular bird in the eastern US—seven states have named it their state bird: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Named for the Catholic church’s senior clergy and their traditional red vestments, cardinals actually have to work to retain their red plumage. Starting each fall after molting (during which time many cardinals go completely bald), the males need a reliable diet of red berries to maintain their plumage; their bodies do not make red pigment naturally. However, seeds comprise the largest part of a cardinal’s diet; their beaks are perfect for cracking hard seeds. During courtship season, the male will woo a female by feeding her seeds beak-to-beak.