When did you take this photo?
The day after a tremendous ice storm on 12/11/08.
Note broken birch tops.
Where did you take this photo?
In my backyard, Milford, New Hampshire.
I know this is not a good picture of the bird, but more the quantity of cardinals that showed up at the feeders.
It is fragmented habitat, old farmland and wild crab apple trees.
There were no less than six pairs present.
How do you attract northern cardinals to your backyard?
Black oil sunflower seed, fruit, and raisins are these birds' favorite foods. Cardinals like a space where they don't have to compete with other birds that congregate in aggressive flocks. They love to feed on the ground so I place large platters on the snow after storms.
Generally I only have one or two pairs but often have fallouts just before, during or after a storm. They are territorial but seem to prefer to eat rather than fight each other off in bad weather or when food might be scarce.
Tips and Tricks
- Get a good camera. Unlike my bluebirds, which allow me to get amazingly close before flying off, cardinals are more apprehensive. Unfortunately, they are often seen at "low light" times of the day; the earliest to feed in the morning and last to feed at night, often in the shadows.
Melissa Mayntz, Birding / Wild Birds Guide, says:
It is interesting how birds' behavior can change when food sources are scarce and the weather is poor. A lot of bird species that would normally be territorial can become much more cooperative after a storm, when they'd rather fill their empty stomachs than expend precious energy arguing with other birds. Of course, many birds also gather in mixed flocks in the winter specifically to forage together, when more eyes can locate food more easily.
See the complete northern cardinal profile.