Cardinals often nest around houses. Fruiting ornamental shrubs provide nourishment and dense nesting habitat.
The cardinal's appearance is not the only thing that demands attention. It sings a loud song.
In 1882, J.M. Wheaton reported seeing more than one hundred cardinals during a one-hour period in central portions of Ohio. During this period, some people trapped cardinals and sold them to people as pets.
Cardinals are an edge animal, living in shrubs and thickets, along the edges where woodlands meet fields, and in urban and suburban yards. In the 1700s, Ohio was 95% forested with very little appropriate habitat for cardinals. As forests were cleared, the habitat became more suitable for cardinals.
The female cardinal usually lays four eggs. The eggs take about 12 days to hatch. Cardinals usually build cup-shaped nests in small trees, bushes, shrubs and thick vines that are no more than three to eight feet off the ground.
Cardinals usually raise two broods of young a year. They mate in March and again from May to July.
A study has shown that northern cardinals eat a wide variety of foods. These include 51 kinds of beetles, four types of grasshoppers, termites, ants, flies, dragonflies and 12 kinds of homoptera which includes leaf hoppers, cicadas and aphids.
The brighter red cardinal males prefer territories in thick vegetation. They feed at faster rates and are more successful in reproducing.
The bright red cardinal males are easily spotted. However, female cardinals are brown with a dusty red crest.
In 1933, the Indiana General Assembly chose the cardinal to be the state bird of Indiana. Also known as the redbird, the cardinal is the state bird of seven states: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.