Cardinal family (Cardinalidae)
Medium-sized songbird, 8” long. Crest on head. Male (right in image) – all bright red with black face mask surrounding bill. Female (left in image) – buffy below; grayish brown above; reddish bill, wings, and tail; pale gray to black face mask.
Forest edges. Open areas.
Loosely constructed nest placed in dense shrubs, usually less than 10 feet above the ground. Eggs are grayish white to buffy white to greenish white, speckled or spotted with gray to brown marks. Clutch size – 2 to 3 eggs.
Song is a series of clear repeated whistles that vary, like “whoit whoit whoit, cheer cheer cheer”. All notes are very rich. Call is a metallic “chip”.
Cardinalis, Latin for “important” from cardo, Latin for “the hinge of a door”; literally something upon which an object or an idea hinged or depended. A cardinal is an important church official with a red hat and robe, hence the name of the bird with red plumage.
In the Nature Park:
Year-round resident. State bird of Indiana. Common in forests, along the trails, and in the vicinity of the buildings at the Nature Park. We have seen Northern Cardinal nests in small shrubs and trees in open areas along the trails and along forest edges.