Cardinals Have Fascinating Eating Patterns
Cardinals are among the easiest birds to notice with their bright red outfits that always bring a pleasant sight to any area. At times they can look formally dressed when a black mask complements their red coating. The bright-colored designs on a cardinal may even remind you of a brightly uniformed guard outside of a palace. So it’s usually a pleasant view and enjoyable surprise when you see these birds at your feeder.
You can see cardinals year round in the Midwest, East and parts of the Southwest. Cardinals exhibit some interesting feeding patterns. You might see them eating alone, in pairs or in a group with other cardinals. The birds will often gather together in winter months. You can see them searching together for food in trees, on bushes, along the road or in your yard. Cardinals don’t like other birds trying to snatch their food. The blue jay has a tough time dealing with cardinals, which are willing to fight off the aggressive bird when it comes to mealtime.
If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of cardinals during mating season, you can see some fascinating rituals involving sharing of food. The female will depend on the male for supplying her with food when food is available. The female crouches down next to the male and lowers her wings, opening her beak as if to beg for a crumb. The male automatically reacts by filling her waiting beak with a piece of food. These chauvinistic tendencies also transform into aggression if another male happens by. Male cardinals become extremely possessive and protective during the mating season.
Some of the foods cardinals enjoy include apples, baked goods, corn and shelled or chopped peanuts. You can also attract them with feeders that include ground or chopped suet, sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. These birds are attracted to a variety of feeders depending on the foods. Use seeds, fruit, suet or nuts for tray feeders. Seeds work well in hopper feeders while seeds or nuts satisfy them in window feeders. Suet in suet feeders will bring in cardinals as well.
Because of this varied diet, the cardinal can be lured using a number of different types of bird feeder plans; the tray or platform bird feeder, the suet bird feeder, and the hopper bird feeder. My favorite though is the combo bird feeder which is a tray-hopper-suet bird feeder all in one.
You might also attract the attention of a cardinal by whistling back to it. Cardinals enjoy whistling loving sounds that you can sometimes imitate. If you try to repeat a short tune yourself, you might notice the cardinal stopping and looking around to find the source of the sound, possibly believing it is from another bird.