Male Vs. Female Cardinal – What Are the Differences?

It’s not always easy to tell male and female cardinals apart. Even experts have a hard time doing so! But some subtle differences between the two sexes can help you tell them apart. Let’s take a closer look at male and female cardinals and see what sets them apart!

What Does a Female and Male Cardinal Look Like?

cardinal birds

Cardinals are one of the most popular backyard birds in North America, and it’s easy to see why. They are incredibly beautiful birds, with male cardinals being a vibrant red color and female cardinals being a more subdued reddish-brown. But did you know that there are some big differences between male and female cardinals? Let’s take a closer look:

1. Male cardinals are much bigger than female cardinals. Male cardinals can be up to 25% larger than their female counterparts!

2. Male cardinals also have much brighter plumage than female cardinals. The male cardinal’s red feathers are so bright that they often look like they’re glowing.

3. Male and female cardinals have different calls. The male cardinal’s call is a loud, sharp “chek-a-dee” while the female cardinal’s call is a softer “chirp.”

4. Male cardinals are more aggressive than female cardinals. This is likely because they need to be extra vigilant in protecting their territory from other male cardinals.

Do Cardinals Mate for Life?

cardinal birds

The answer is yes, cardinals do mate for life. They are one of the few bird species that typically form long-term, monogamous relationships. This means that they will typically find one mate and stay with them until one of them dies.

There are a few reasons why cardinals mate for life. One reason is that they have a strong parental instinct. Both the male and female cardinal work together to build a nest and raise their young. They are also both very protective of their territory and will work together to defend it from other birds.

Another reason why cardinals mate for life is because they form strong bonds with their mates. Cardinals are known to be very social creatures and they enjoy spending time with their partner. They often preen each other and share food. These strong bonds help to keep them together for the long term.

So, if you’re ever wondering if birds mate for life, the answer is yes, at least when it comes to cardinals!

How Rare Is It to See a Female Cardinal?

cardinal birds

It is not rare to see a female cardinal. Cardinals are found in woodlands, gardens, and backyards across North America. The brightly colored males are more conspicuous, but the females are just as common. Cardinals are year-round residents in most of their range and do not migrate.

Singing Ability and Behavior of male and female cardinal

cardinal birds

It is well known that male cardinals are much more vocal than females. But did you know that there are also some key differences in the singing ability and behavior of male and female cardinals? Here are some interesting facts:

  • Male cardinals have been found to sing nearly twice as many different songs as females.
  • Male cardinals also sing for significantly longer periods each day than females.
  • Females typically only sing during the breeding season, whereas male cardinals will sing year-round.
  • Some studies have found that male cardinals learn their songs from other males, while females do not seem to follow this trend.
  • Male cardinals are also more likely to sing when they are alone, whereas females only sing in the presence of other birds.

The Role in Harvesting Food for the Nest


Cardinals are also interesting in that they have very specific roles when it comes to collecting food. Males and females will often work together in pairs to forage for food, with the male usually taking the lead. However, it is the female cardinal that is responsible for feeding the young. This is because males generally leave the nest shortly after the chicks are born, while females will stay to care for them until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Interestingly, recent studies have shown that female cardinals remember the location of food sources better than males. This means that they can lead the way to these sources when necessary, and also helps to explain why females are so important in feeding the young.

How Do Male and Female Cardinals Make Their Nests?

cardinal birds

Cardinals are one of the few bird species in which the male and female work together to build their nest. The male will gather materials such as twigs and leaves, while the female weaves them together into a cup-shaped structure. Once the nest is complete, the female will lay her eggs inside and both parents will take turns incubating them.

While most bird species have the male taking the lead in nest building, cardinals are unique in that both sexes play an equally important role. This is likely because females are much smaller than their mates, and would be unable to build a nest on their own. By working together, both parents can ensure that their offspring have a warm and safe place to hatch and grow.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, cardinals are one of the few bird species that mate for life and work together to build their nest. They are also interesting in that they have very specific roles when it comes to collecting food. Male cardinals are usually responsible for gathering materials for the nest, while females are typically in charge of feeding the young. Cardinals are found in woodlands, gardens, and backyards across North America and are year-round residents in most of their range.

Dale Garrett

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing his 15 years of my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at for assistance.