The female builds a nest of small twigs and grasses in a shrub or brushy tangle. From 3
to 4 eggs, incubated by the female, hatch in just under two weeks. Both parents tend the
young. Two, three or four broods may be raised in a breeding season. The male will tend
the brood while the female starts the next brood.
The Bird Banding Lab web site reports that between 1955 and 1997, a total of 356,639 Northern Cardinals were banded. Of these,
10,787 have been recovered, a recovery rate of 3.02%. Banding studies show that Cardinals
can live up to 15 years in the wild. Cardinals are nomadic, and the Cardinals that visit
your backyard feeder may not be the same individuals from week to week.
If you should recover a banded bird, please report the band number to the Bird Banding
Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Even though Northern Cardinal nests are frequently parasitized by Cowbirds, their
populations are increasing, and their range is expanding northward and westward. There can
be little doubt that the popularity of backyard bird feeding is contributing to the
population and range increases of this species.
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