For the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a pair of Northern Cardinals hanging around the backyard…and yesterday, I noticed a nest in a shrub right near the patio. I’ve been keeping an eye on things ever since, being careful not to get too close. Mama spends most of her time sitting on her eggs, so I don’t know how many there are. I’m a novice birder, so I found a site with lots of helpful information: Nest Watch, and here’s another with info specifically about cardinals: All About Birds. Here are three photos- it’s a bit hard to find mama in her nest, but you can see her red tail feather and her head, especially her eye and beak, if you look carefully. She sits very low in the nest, and I don’t want to get too close so as not to disturb or frighten her.
I’ve learned that mama usually lays 2-5 eggs (called a clutch). She’ll sit on them for about 11-13 days (called the incubation period), and after hatching, the babies will remain in the nest for 7-13 days (called the nestling period). During this time, mama and papa will feed the babies insects. Newly hatched babies must be fed 3-4 times every hour, and by the third day, they eat up to 8 times an hour! You can imagine how hard papa must work to gather enough insects! In fact, the feeding behavior in adult cardinals is so instinctual and intense, they sometimes feed other bird’s nestlings! I’ll keep you posted as things progress.