Cardinals are usually monogamous, although in some cases some males may mate with multiple females. The nesting time depends on the region. The southern subspecies will nest in February and the northern subspecies will start in April. The ground is still covered with snow when the subspecies breeding in Iowa build their nests. Subspecies in Belize were also found to begin nesting in mid June. In West Virginia, the nest is built in April and lasts until October.
Some of the Cardinals have marriages that last years or months. When nesting, the territory intersects. Males sometimes bring nesting materials to females to build nests. The female will use her beak to separate the branches, use her body to bend the branches and use her feet to form a cup. The adult birds in the front nest will become the assistant of their parents and help build the nest.
The bird’s nest has four layers. The bottom layer is rough branches covered with leaves and surrounded by bark. Finally, it is covered with grass, stems, small roots and needles. It usually takes 3-9 days to complete the bird’s nest. The bird’s nest is 5-8 cm high, 10 cm wide and 8 cm inner diameter. They only use the nest once. Female birds nest in the jungle or in trees 1-3 meters away. Eggs will be laid 1-6 days after the completion of the nest. The female bird lays 3-4 eggs at a time. The egg is about 2 cm in size. The color of the egg is white, green, blue or brown, with lavender, gray or brown spots. Generally, the female bird is responsible for hatching eggs, and the male bird rarely or only hatches for a very short time. The incubation period is 11-13 days. The chicks will change feathers at the age of 10-11. Flying after 19 days, completely independent at 40 days of age. They give birth 2-3 times a year. When the female produces or hatches another baby, the male is responsible for feeding the last baby. The average life span of wild Cardinals is 16 years old.
There will be brown Oriole or copper Oriole of the genus oriole in the nest.
Protection status of cardinal in North America
It is listed in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) 2013 red list of endangered species ver 3.1 – no danger (LC).
North American Cardinals are abundant in Maine to Texas in the eastern United States, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in Canada. Their distribution extends to the border between the United States and Mexico and to the tevantepec isthmus of Guatemala and Belize in the north through Mexico in the south. They were introduced to Bermuda in the 1700s. They have also been introduced to Southern California and Hawaii. Its natural habitats include woodlands, gardens, jungles and swamps. They are resident birds, but they also migrate due to extreme weather and food supply.
On January 6, 2002, a handsome cardinal played in the hands of staff in the wellsman Forest Nature Reserve, Indiana, USA. The staff carefully observed and recorded the living habits of each bird here for further study in the future.
The cardinal is listed as safe by the International Union for conservation of nature. It is estimated that the global distribution area is 5.8 million square kilometers, and the global number is 100 million, which remains stable. Because of their bright colors and unique songs, they have been used as pets. In the United States, they are protected by the migration Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and are prohibited from being sold as caged birds. They are also protected in Canada.