Fun Redbird Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 08, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Interesting facts about Redbirds for kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

The redbird is also known as the Northern cardinal, red cardinal, and common cardinal. It belongs to the Cardinalidae family and genus Cardinalis. The Northern cardinal is known to have about 19 subspecies. The range for these cardinals includes the eastern United States, Canada, Guatemala. This bird inhabits overgrown fields, forest fringes, wetlands, and grasslands. There are differences between the sexes. Males cardinals are typically bright crimson red in color with a black mask from eyes to the upper throat while the female is a rather dull fawn in color with a hint of grayish brown. The young are also dull and fawn in color. They have a bright coral-colored beak. The down feathers are fluffed during winter. These cardinals feed mostly on fruits, grains, and seeds like blueberry, mulberry, sedges, grasses, buckwheat. The pairs are known to be monogamous but are not always necessary. A formed pair is known to sing together. The nest is built and after around 3-6 days, glossy eggs are laid. Incubation takes about 12-13 days. Fledglings grow after 10-11 days of hatching. Males take care and feed chicks. They live around three years in the wild. These can be seen in flocks during winter. Northern Cardinals are a protected species in the United States and Canada. Northern cardinals are considered attractive because of the red color that they get from their food; people seek help from the bird feeders to draw them to their yards and gardens. Northern Cardinals are state birds of about seven states in the United States of America. It is fascinating to learn about these Northern cardinals and if you are interested, read about great black hawks and Australian magpies too.

Redbird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a redbird?

The redbird is a species of bird.

What class of animal does a redbird belong to?

The redbird belongs to the class of Aves of birds.

How many redbirds are there in the world?

The global population of these birds is estimated to be approximately a hundred million.

Where does a redbird live?

These birds are found in the eastern United States from Maine to Minnesota and also around the Texas-Mexico border. It can be also found in Canada in southern parts of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick. The range of these birds also includes Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.

What is a redbird's habitat?

This bird inhabits heavy shrubby areas like overgrown fields, forest fringes and also wetlands, shrublands, grasslands. These birds prefer high perches or branches for singing.

Who do redbirds live with?

Most of the time these birds can be spotted alone but during winter months they can be seen in flocks.

How long does a redbird live?

Northern cardinals, on average, live for about three years in the wild but it has been recorded that some of this species have lived for about 13-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction of these birds is not necessarily monogamous but usually so. Formed pairs are known to sing together and also perform other courtship rituals, for example, the male collects food and feeds the female. Males are known to also collect nest materials like twigs, grasses, strips of barks and bring them to the female and it is believed they are the ones that build most of the nest. The building of the nest takes about 3-9 days and these nests are not reused. These nests are shaped like a cup and are built in some hidden spots like dense shrubs. After around six days of building the nests, 3-4 glossy eggs are laid. Most of the incubation of eggs is done by the mother and not in pair and males rarely participate in the process and incubation takes about 12-13 days. Fledglings happen after 10-11 days of hatching. Males take care of and feed the chicks.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these birds is Least Concern.

Redbird Fun Facts

What do redbirds look like?

The male cardinal is typically crimson red in color. It has a face mask extending from the eyes to the upper chest which is black in color. This color becomes dark and dull on the wings and the back. The female body coloring is different from that of a male. The female is fawn or tan yellowish in color with slight grayish-brown tones. It has a reddish tone on its wings, crest, and tail feathers. The black-colored face mask is less prominent in females. Males and females both have a beak which is bright coral colored and a raised crest. Chicks look similar to adult females. The down feathers are fluffed up during winters. The male cardinal is slightly larger.


How cute are they?

These birds are considered cute because of their colors.

How do they communicate?

This bird is known to communicate through songs and calls just like other birds. Both a male and female are known to sing. It is known that a Northern cardinal female sings when on the nest and it is sometimes to send a signal to the male to bring food. The most common call of this redbird or Northern cardinal is to warn other members of the predators or intruders.

How big is a redbird?

This bird is a little bit smaller than a bluejay. It is around 8.2-9.4 in (21-24 cm) long.

How fast can a redbird fly?

This bird can fly at around 20-30 mph (32-48 kph). Cardinals are known to be ground feeders and are known to not fly very high, the exact height of flying is unknown but the feeders for these cardinals are known to be placed not more than 5 ft (1.5 m) above the ground.

How much does a redbird weigh?

The weight of this bird is around 0.09 lb (0.043 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby redbird?

A baby redbird is called a chick.

What do they eat?

This bird is known to mainly eat fruits and seeds and sometimes insects, that are mostly fed to chicks or young ones. These fruits and seeds include buckwheat, sedges, grasses, mulberry, blueberry, tulip-tree, corn, dogwood, wild grape and also includes crickets, beetles, flies, cicadas, spiders, butterflies, moths, and centipedes.

Are they poisonous?

These birds are not considered poisonous or harmful.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds cannot be kept as pets in the United States and Canada as this species is protected legally and its sale as caged birds is banned.

Did you know...

It is very uncommon among female North American birds to sing and out of the few, the Northern cardinal females sing. These females usually sing when they are sitting on the nest.

One interesting Northern cardinal fact is that you might often see these cardinals attacking their own reflection in a mirror, window, or any shiny surface where they can see their reflection. This sight is most common during spring and early summer as their aggressive hormones level are up and they are highly territorial during this period and as the hormone level comes down, this behavior comes to an end. Both sexes engage in this behavior.

The Northern cardinal or the redbird is the state bird of these seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.  

The oldest record of this North cardinal is of a female, found in Pennsylvania and it was 15 years and 9 months old.  

The adult female cardinal and a fledgling, that is, a young one of the bird between hatching and being capable of flight look similar.

It is believed that these cardinals get the red color on their feathers through the food they consume which contains carotenoids and if this food that contains these pigments are not enough or are not available, the color of the feathers fades to a brownish color.

You can seek the help of bird feeders to attract or draw these cardinals to your gardens or yard.

This bird was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

There are around 19 subspecies of this bird.

Some believe that if you spot a redbird during a special or personal event like a wedding, birthday, it  symbolizes that some family member or friend who has departed, visited and is there to show you that they are still with you.

Are they predators?

Generally, Northern cardinals or redbirds are not considered predators but they are known to feed on crickets, beetles, centipedes. An example of a predatory bird, or bird of prey, is the common buzzard.

Are they loud?

Both males and females are known to sing. The Northern cardinal song is considered loud and it sounds like two parted whistles, it speeds up and when it is about to end, it sounds like a slow trill. Males are known to sing all year. There are various calls of this bird and the most common Northern cardinal call is a loud, metallic type chip. Some other birds that sing are Northern waterthrushes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these robin and purple finch.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Redbird coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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