North Carolina Mountain Birds: Northern Cardinal

Cardinal at the Inn, Winter 2011

We can always count on the Northern Cardinal to add some pep to a winter day, with cheerful chirping and colorful plumage, so we’re giving this spunky bird the February spot in our 12 Months of Birding at the Inn series.

The Northern Cardinal doesn’t migrate and is therefore a year-round resident at the Inn on Mill Creek. And if you live in the eastern United States, chances are likely that cardinals visit your backyard, too. They are a welcome sight in the wintertime, that’s for sure! Even the other birds seems to think so…

Female cardinal hanging out with other birds at the Inn

Male Northern Cardinals are bright red and the females are brown with
red accents. The males and females have reddish-orange beaks and black
highlights on their faces. Our favorite thing about cardinals is that
they look like they have mohawks.

Northern Cardinal at the Inn, Spring

Cardinals tend to lay low, hiding out in shrubs at the Inn around the birdfeeders. They love sunflower seeds and will hop around under the feeders picking up every last one. One year, we got to watch a father cardinal teaching his brood how to find seeds. One of the youngsters did not want to learn and just kept chirping until dad finally gave up and fed the young one himself.

Apologies for the blurry shot – we took it through the Great Room window

When you’re staying at the Inn on Mill Creek, watch for Northern Cardinals around the feeders in the morning and also in the late afternoons/early evenings. They are a real treat to watch!

Male Northern Cardinal at the Inn, August 2012

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