Baby Cardinals

May 6th, 2006

As part gardening I (and my wife joins me in this) try to attract birds to our backyard. My wife likes birds, and I do as well but mostly I appreciate the good they can do for a garden by eating insects and whatnot.

This Spring a family of cardinals made a nest in one of our spruces and they’ve already had their first babies. In the photo (click to enlarge) you’ll notice that there are two hatchlings and two still whole eggs. I don’t know how old these babies are, but considering their siblings are still in eggs I’m guessing a day or two at the most, they might have been born this morning for all I know. Supposedly they leave the nest in as little as 10 days after hatching so these birds have some major growing to do.

Cardinal females do the nesting, but once the young are born it is usually the male that takes over feeding while the female makes a new nest. In this way they can have multiple broods per year. They also do not migrate and so I hope we’ll eventually have more cardinals living in our backyard as this family multiplies.

For more on cardinals try this link.

I also want to apologize for not posting much the last few weeks. There are two reasons for this, the first is that I’ve been busy gardening. However in this time I’ve gathered a bunch of materials and pictures for later posts. The other reason is that I’m working on a large expansion for this site. I realized that many of the things I wish to write about do not fit well with the blog format and so I am going to expand. I hope to have that done by the end of May and a deluge of new content for you.

For now though I’m taking my wife on a well deserved week long vacation. Adios.

78 Responses to “Baby Cardinals”

  1. Hannah Duttera  Says:

    My dad found a baby girl cardinal in the middle of the road a little over a week ago. She can fly but not well and she can’t eat on her own. We’ve given her a paste made of pressed blackberries and chewed up sunflower seeds and she loves it! I don’t know how she ended up in the road but she’s lucky my dad found her. We are planning to set her free when all of her baby down is gone and when she can eat on her own. Hopefully this will be soon.

  2. Dale  Says:

    My wife and I have noticed a cardinal building a next in a rhodendron bush just outside our front window. Because our window is tinted we can watch the birds without them seeing us. What pleasure it has been. Now two babies have hatched and are leaving the nest very cautiously. The parents stay close by as if coaching them what to do next. Sometimes they feed them even after they are on the ground. It’s amazing how these little fellows seem to know how to communicate with each other.

  3. Becky  Says:

    My resident cardinals built a nest and laid one precious egg. A couple of weeks later there were two very, very tiny babies. Twins?
    Is this possible? Sorry to say only one fledged and the other despite all the hard work of Mom and Dad, just seemed to have failure to thrive. It was touching how they watched over him and urged him to eat. They stayed with him even days after died. Has anyone else witnessed twins?

  4. peggy  Says:

    I love cardinals I have a lot in my back yard but have never found a nest I think there was one in a large bush beside my driveway. The eggs were white with red specks on them. Could they be cardinal eggs?

  5. Tanga  Says:

    I am sick. We just found a female cardinal dead under our bird feeder. I am sure a cat killed her. I have seen the cardinal on the ground many times. I wish people had to keep their cats in like we have to keep our dogs in. People that have cats in town are inconsiderate of their neighbors. That cardinal had been here for 3 years.

  6. Ann  Says:

    I have a mother cardinal with 3 eggs in her nest, 2 have hatched, hoping the other hatches any day…look forward to see her feed them.

  7. Mary  Says:

    I have a cardinal nest with now 2 eggs in it. I see the parents near but rarely in the nest. Shouldn’t they be sitting in the nest more?

  8. Susan  Says:

    Where do I find the answer to all these questions?

  9. Christina Ott  Says:

    We’ve got a cardinal nest just outside our kitchen window. It’s in a lilac tree. Noticed the mother sitting on nest on May 28th and on June 7th saw mother and father coming and going feeding the 3 little chicks. We’ve been keeping the bright kitchen light out because we don’t want to scare the parents away. How long will it be before they can fly? Last winter we had six pairs of cardinals in our yard. I managed to get all six males on one picture. Really neat! Hope these little ones make it.

  10. human protector  Says:

    Earlier this year had cardinal try to have baby. They only had one egg but it didn’t hatch. They built another nest right above the old one and tried again. This time I saw three eggs. At the time I noticed two brown spotted egg and one like the other one that didn’t hatch (black spotted) Didn’t think much about it at the time, until the baby hatched. When I finally went to look at the baby, I was shocked at how big it was. Did some investigating and found out it was not a baby cardinal at all. Poor mom and dad cardnial were raising a brown cow bird. I tired chasing it away but it was no use. Poor dad kept feeding it. Mom didn’t care about it, she was busy building another nest. This time she is smarter. This time I think she pushed out a brown spotted egg(another cow bird). I found it broken on the rocks below the bush. Now mom and dad have four baby birds to feed. Today I spent all afternoon chasing away two big female brown cow birds. They are eyeing up the poor little ones, cause they are always chirping. They are loud! only at 3 days old I can hear them when I walk by the bush. Now that they are getting louder the dogs can hear too and are beginning to investigate. Should I be worried about the cow birds? I hate those things.

  11. Samantha  Says:

    This is the 2nd year that a cardinal nest has formed in the same spot as last year. it is right outside my bathroom window. They are about to fledge now and it so amazing to watch them. I hope they are back next year since this is their second time around. Also just wondering if anyone thinks they may be the same birds from last year? Just wondering if they will come back for several years to come 🙂

  12. J.Harrison  Says:

    We found a nest in our front yard yews, right outside my daughter’s window. 3 babies (eyes not open), one unhatched egg. Father and mother were close at hand. But the next day there was a HEAVY rainstorm, and the day after, nest was empty. I couldn’t find anything under the nest or in the bush. Weird thing, assuming predators got them, is that the nest was still in perfect shape. We have skunks in the area, haven’t seen raccoons for over a year, and nobody around here has outdoor cats. We have had crows recovering too, after being wiped out by the bird flu year. We still see cardinals in our yard and in the neighborhood, but it would have been neat to see that little family grow up!

  13. Kim  Says:

    We too had a nest with two babies in our backyard. Babies were doing awesome with mom and dad both feeding. We had a heavy rainstorm and high winds last night. We are devastated to have found them both dead underneath the nest. The poor parents keep coming back and calling for them with food. It is heartbreaking to see.

  14. Thomas Yeager  Says:

    Is it possible for Cardinals to move their babies?

  15. sarah  Says:

    i saw a mother cardinal chirping its head off in my dog’s fenced area, it nested in a giant bush. last year i saw a cardinal nest in that same bush maybe that cardinals babies is now a mama. anyways, i,ve been soo facsinated with cardinals i been reasearching billons of facts about them, i built a nice red bird house nailed in a tree, i bought a fountain and poured water in it and then i took my bird feader and filled it up with bread crumbs,hamster food and carrotts. now i see them every morning… i hope all the cardinals come in my birdhouse.

  16. sarah  Says:

    its been a week already and the baby cardinals already have thier eyes its so cool watching them grow up. both 2 girls. i named them maryssa and goldie… they r sooo cute!!! the mama lets me see them and look at them up close i love the mama she is so cute i took a blanket and threw it over the bush, so it would rain on the babies. i heard and believe that if you touch the babie or nest they wont fly away. it was a myth i do it all the time but dont touch the babies often, they will die if you touch them a lot.

  17. Marina  Says:

    We have a cardinal nest in a sturdy viburnum bush at the south side of the house just outside one of the kitchen windows- braced on both sides by additional bushes, and on the north side by the house itself. I hope this arrangement gives them optimum shelter. My only concern is garter or milk snakes; perhaps the proximity to the house will keep predators to a minimum- we have no neighbors.

  18. sarah  Says:

    i really hope the babies dont fly away. i love watching them everyday after school they are so cute. ive been watching the birdfeeder up in my orange tree i put up, and i see thousands of birds every minute, i guess they like hamster food.

  19. Michelle  Says:

    A cardinal couple has started a family in a bush in our yard. We have enjoyed watching Romeo and Juliet the past few weeks and today the 5 little chicks were born. We set up a sunflower feeder near the nest so she doesn’t have far to fly for food and will keep the dogs away in about a week. Other than that I don’t know what more we can do. Many of the posts here sadden me. I hope they all make it. The odds seem stacked against them. I better not see any loose cats in my yard but we can’t watch them 24/7. They are so tiny and crying in silence for food when we peeked at them when mama flew off for a bit. I am a little stressed to be honest.

  20. tim  Says:

    the mom left it on its on and we didnt know what to do with it and it does not know how to fly.We have been teaching it how to fly and it has been well so far . oh yeah this happend in one hour.crazy!!!!!!!right yeah crazy!!!!!!!!

  21. Gibson Hooten  Says:

    How long does it take a baby cardinal to learn how to completely fly? A Baby cardinal got out of the nest and was on the ground “fly/jumping”. We don’t want to let our dogs out in the fenced back yard until the baby is able to completely fly and is possibly gone. We don’t want to disturb the mother “teaching” the baby how to fly. But we’d like to have some idea how long before we can let our dogs back in the back yard.

  22. Kahree  Says:

    Last year we moved to a new spot in our regular RV park, and ALL spring I had the male attacking every window in my place! I tried the screens, soaping the windows, and shooting it with water to try and deter it. I get that they are territorial. He was back with a vengeance this fall, through the winter, and now there is a nest on the patio table right next to my front door. WHAT DO I DO TO GEDT RID OF THESE BIRDS???? If I smash the eggs in the nest will that keep them from coming back to my place??? I am TOTALLY SERIOUS!!!! I hate the constant window attacks from sunup to sundown, the bird shit all over my deck, the chirping when I’m trying to sleep. After 2 years I am at my wit’s end, and I need it to stop. I don’t want to kill them or the eggs, but I will if someone does not give me a better solution!

  23. Coustana  Says:

    Two years ago a neighborhood cat got into a cardinals nest I’d been observing in our bush by the porch. Killed them all and pulled the nest sideways. The parents left. Well….I discovered this week that a new set of parents (?) are using the same old nest but it is sitting sideways in the crotch of the branches. 3 eggs today. That same cat is lurking around trying to kill my rabbit, and I know he’ll get the nest, esp. since it’s unstable. What should I do? One year wind blew a cardinal’s nest out of another bush so I went to a thrift store, got a little basket, stuffed it with the nest leftovers & put the babies back in. The parents nearly freaked when they came and the babies were “gone” but they could hear them peeping in the basket. They went ahead and sat in the basket until it was time to leave. So cute. My whole point is, first I want to deter the cat…..I use aluminum foil around house plants and it works…..should I stuff the lower bush with it??? Also, I can see the weight of the babies may dump the nest! Should I watch the nest and put it in a little basket when things get iffy? Or should I adjust the nest so it’s more stable?? I know that cat will be waiting like a vulture. HELP!!!

  24. Brooke  Says:

    I also had a nest outside my back door, started with two eggs, dad helped and brought food to the mom and mother also left and came back to feed the babies. I saw two babies, then one day I looked and there was just one baby and an egg! then today just one egg.. the babies didn’t seem old enough to have left but they may have decided to move them since we have dogs in the yard (who are pretty nice, but still…) I wonder why they chose that spot? I was going to say to the woman who said a cat killed a cardinal. Is the cat nice? you could put a collar or ribbon around it’s neck with a little bell. At least when it moves the bell will ring, warning the birds. I keep my cats inside, but you can’t help strays unless you call the pound or bring it to the shelter

  25. Brooke  Says:

    p.s. don’t smash the eggs, if you are that fed up just pick the nest up and move it to a shrub nearby when the parents are watching

  26. lacey  Says:

    There’s a cardinals nest in a small bush in our back yard and its to high for me to see cuz i’m only 9 and i herd peeping just a few minutes ago.When i was outside and i thought i saw 1 of the babys on the ground but there wasn’t .At least nothing bad happend but what do i do the dog next store hates birds and i’m scared that the cardinals will get killed what do i do.

  27. joyce  Says:

    We have a cardinal nest on our patio. There were 3 in the nest. This morning all three fledged from the nest.One hit the concrete of the patio hard and one of the other seemed to be laying on its right side and the other seems to be okay. The father did not come around to feed them just checked on them. We called a wild life rehab and took them to them to get the proper care. The father keeps coming around like he is looking for them. How long will he keep doing this? It is very heart breaking to see him. We watched the mom and dad build the nest,watched the mom sit on the eggs and father feed her while she sat on the eggs. We have seen the whole thing including them fledging. They would not have survived with all the cats around and if the two were hurt. We do feel that we did the right thing. We miss them deeply.We both cried as we were taking them this morning to the wild life rehab. They gave us their patient number to give them if we wanted to call and check on them.

  28. Lorie McQuerry  Says:

    We have a cardinals nest on the side of our house in the bushes. 3 babies hatched. one did not make it. There was a rain/windstorm and now the two that were alive are no longer in the nest. We haven’t found them anywhere on the ground. Could the Mom or Dad Cardinal have moved them??? The parents are still hanging around. What does this mean?

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