Baby Cardinals (Facts You Didn’t Know)

Cardinals are beautiful red birds that are located in North America. They’re easy to recognize with their bright bodies, black-mask face, and crested head. Every year, these birds mate during the spring and summer and baby cardinals hatch.

Baby cardinals are naked when they hatch. They quickly develop and are ready to leave the nest within 11 days. These birds still stay close to their parents for the first 2 months of life as they become stronger. They don’t turn fully red until they’ve reached 6 months.

Cardinals are fascinating birds. Every cardinal begins as a hatchling before developing into a bright red bird. The first few months of their life prepares them to become an adult.

What Months Do Cardinals Have Babies?

The cardinal mating season takes place between March and September. During this season, cardinals usually raise 2 to 3 broods. They will have the first brood in March. The second brood is usually born around July and the third is closer to the end of the season.

Once the eggs have been laid by the female cardinal, they will take an average of 11 to 13 days to hatch. Typically, the first brood of the season takes longer to hatch than the second. Since the temperature is cooler in March, it takes longer for the first brood of eggs to incubate.

After mating, cardinals will lay 2 to 5 eggs (an average of 3 eggs). When the eggs hatch, the cardinals will take care of their first brood until they’re ready to leave the nest. When the baby cardinals leave the nest, the male and female will mate for the second time.

Cardinals are monogamous birds. The male and female will stick together for several breeding seasons. They work together during this season to build a nest and take care of their hatchlings.

Baby cardinals
Male cardinal feeding his chicks

How Long Do Baby Cardinals Stay In The Nest?

Baby cardinals will remain in the nest for 9 to 11 days before they fledge. When these birds are first born, they are unable to take care of themselves. Their eyes are closed for the first 2 to 3 days after hatching. 

They rely on the male and female cardinals to keep them safe in the nest until they’re ready to fly. During this time, the cardinals will provide food and shelter for their hatchlings. Baby cardinals are at a higher risk of being taken by a predator (such as cats or snakes). 

Cardinals are very protective of their nest during mating seasons. While these birds are calm most of the year, during this time they can be aggressive. They are even known to become aggressive towards the hatchlings if they sense a threat nearby. 

In most situations, adult cardinals are very protective of their hatchlings and nest. This is to keep the hatchlings safe and prevent them from falling out of the nest. If a predator does threaten the territory and a baby bird falls from the nest, the adult cardinals will abandon it.

When Do Baby Cardinals Fly?

Most baby cardinals will fly 7 to 13 days after hatching. At this time, they’ve developed and are ready to leave the nest. However, they aren’t 100% ready to be away from their mother and father yet.

It’s common for baby cardinals to stay in an area close to their original nest. They will still continue to return to get fed for up to 2 months after leaving. 

During the early weeks, the little birds are getting used to flying. They aren’t quite strong enough to take off far from the nest. On average, it takes 4 weeks for a young cardinal to keep up with the older cardinals when flying.

How Long Does It Take Baby Cardinals To Turn Red?

Cardinals are identified by their bright red color. However, they don’t start out this way. When baby cardinals are hatched, they’re completely naked. It takes approximately 6 months for them to turn red.

After hatching, these birds will have translucent skin, which them appear yellowish. They will also have a fine grey down protecting the feather tracks.

Baby cardinals are very small. When they hatch, they weigh approximately 3-3.5 grams. As they grow and develop their features, they become a greyish-brown shade. During the winter season, they will shed these feathers. 

New feathers will begin to grow in that are a reddish-brown shade. Once the cardinal has matured to approximately 6 or 7 months, the feathers will become red. Typically, the tail feathers go red first. 

What To Feed A Baby Cardinal

As mentioned above, baby cardinals rely on their parents for food for approximately 2 months after hatching. Even when they are strong enough to get their own food, these cardinals will still travel with their parents.

The best things to feed baby cardinals are insects and invertebrates. This is because insects are rich in protein. Most baby cardinals will have a diet of caterpillars and larvae. Beetles are also a great choice for hatchlings. 

Cardinals will also feed their babies berries, seeds, and plants. However, hatchlings can’t always eat the same foods as adult birds. This is because their stomachs aren’t developed enough to digest tough foods. 

If a mother cardinal can only scavenge tough foods, she will break them up in her mouth and then regurgitate them to the baby. There is a yellow gape on the baby cardinal’s mouth which helps the adult bird feed them. 

Baby cardinals are known to let their parents know when they’re hungry. They will chirp and flutter their wings to alert their parents.

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