Ohio’s Lovely Cardinals

Here in Ohio, anyone can see a beautiful cardinal easily.

Since they are all over the place all year long here in Ohio, just look around and you are bound to see one. Of course, the male cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is the bright red one with the crest and black markings on its head. The female is a tan color but with reddish coloring on the wings.

Sometimes you may see what looks like a cardinal but with no crest. This could be a scarlet tanager which doesn’t have a crest nor black markings on its head. On the other hand, it could also be a juvenile cardinal which has yet to grow its crest!

Ohio's Lovely Cardinals

 

But the missing crest on a cardinal could also be due to molting which sometimes occurs all at once and on its head, therefore it loses its crest until it grows back in. Loss of these feathers could also be caused by lice which usually infest most wild birds. The lice eat away the feathers so when the feathers fall out, the lice die off and new feathers grow back. Lice are usually more of a problem in early fall.

Feeding Cardinals

You can fill your feeders with sunflower and safflower seeds to attract more cardinals. Planting berry-bearing bushes and hedges also helps to feed them naturally. Cardinals do eat insects and spiders and many seeds and berries, but when winter conditions or drought makes it hard for them to get food, supplementing with your feeder is a good idea.

cardinal-in-snow-hypertufa-gardener

The nest is usually fairly close to the ground and the male carries food to the nesting site to feed his mate and the hatchlings. When one brood is raised and off to fly away, the female again goes to nesting and lays another clutch of eggs. A woman’s work is never done!

Interestingly, the cardinal we have here in Ohio doesn’t migrate but stays around its own territory which would usually be where it was born. So the ones you see in your backyard just could be the same ones from last year.

Cardinals or redbirds have a very recognizable song and you can hear it in this video from shutterwi on YouTube.

An uncommon trait for cardinal birds is the fact that both male and female sing.  It is said that her song is telling the male what kind of food to bring back to the nest! Isn’t that like a female…taking charge?  Usually only the male in a species sing, but since he got all the pretty color, it is good she can have a voice too. And these redbirds are long lived, up to 15 years
 
northern-cardinal-female-hypertufa-gardener
Female Northern Cardinal

Cardinals are the state bird in Ohio and also in other states such as Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. I guess we are all fans of that pretty red bird.

How many of these do you see in your gardens and yards? Aren’t they so pretty against snow!

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Kim, The Hypertufa Gardener

Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.

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2 thoughts on “Ohio’s Lovely Cardinals

  • January 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm
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    I would love it if we had cardinals in Colorado, but we don't. I miss them. So I look forward to hearing them when I return to Kansas. Going on a Kansas tour with my daughter at her request this summer. I hope we see plenty of cardinals on our trip. Fingers crossed. Reply
    • January 30, 2019 at 7:25 pm
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      They are so pretty in the snow. I'll bet there are so many birds you have there that I don't, though. Reply

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