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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Luckily we have Cardinals almost everywhere now

Northern Cardinals (female, male)
Several decades ago Cardinals were very, very rare in north Texas. In the 1800s the Northern Cardinal (its full name) lived in North America only as far north as southern New York, and west only to wooded portions of the Great Plains.

Times change!!   In the 21st Century, the Cardinal is almost everywhere in this country (except chunks west of the Rocky Mountains). This is largely due to their adaptability, and the large number of people who feed birds and provide habitat (you're probably one), so Cardinals can survive hot summers and freezing winters. Today their range extends into southern Canada, and from the Rockies east to the Atlantic coast. And north Texas!

Cardinals live naturally only in forest edges. However, as man cleared millions of small areas for homesites, more and more 'forest edge' was created. We even grew and stored lots of Cardinal-food such as corn and wheat.

Cardinals are easy to attract to your yard. All you'll need are well-stocked feeders and the appropriate habitat - some dense vegetation including trees. Adult Cardinals will escort their fledglings to the vicinity of a birdfeeder. Then the parents will bring seeds to the fledglings from the feeder. The fledglings soon catch on, and will visit the feeders themselves. This "teaching  by example" often happens at backyard birdbaths too - throughout the year.

Black oil sunflower seeds are their favorite, but they'll often eat other seeds. They actually like suet too, especially if it contains sunflower seeds.