Northern Cardinal

Virginia State Bird


Northern cardinal pair

Northern cardinal pair; photo by Ilona L on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).

Official State Bird of Virginia

Virginia designated the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as official state bird in 1950. One of America's favorite backyard birds; the northern cardinal is the official bird symbol of seven states. All State Birds

Northern Cardinal Facts

Northern cardinals are distinctive in appearance and song - they're known for their "cheer cheer cheer," "whit-chew whit-chew" and "purty purty purty" whistles. Both the male and female sing (few female songbird species sing in North America).

Male cardinals are a brilliant scarlet red, females a buffy-brown with reddish wings - both have a jet-black mask, pronounced crest, and heavy bill. The cardinal sings nearly year-round, and the male aggressively defends his 4-acre territory (male cardinals have been seen attacking small red objects mistaken as other males).

Northern cardinals breed 2-3 times each season. The female builds the nest and tends the hatchlings for about 10 days while the male brings food. The male then takes over the care of this first brood while the female moves on to a new nest and lays a second clutch of eggs.



Northern cardinal photo © James Ownby: My View of Nature.

Female northern cardinal; photo © Brian Jorg / CritterZoneAnimal - Wildlife - Nature Stock Photography (all rights reserved; used by permission).

Female northern cardinal


Birding by Ear: Northern Cardinal Song