How Long Do Baby Cardinals
Stay in the Nest? Explained!

The most vital phase of a cardinal's lifecycle is when the hatchling learns to go beyond the horizons of its nests and explores the world for itself.

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Iñigo Navarro

May 30, 2021


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What’s This Post About?

A great deal of nurturing is required during the growing stages of a bird’s life. Birds tend to leave once they are fully grown. But during their growth period, they stay with their parent birds.

Northern cardinals are amongst the most welcomed backyard songbirds which are thought to be a good omen. Like a hummingbird, cardinals are most likely to build their nests in quiet secluded places like dense shrubs and heavy thickets.

Having distinct features and characteristics, cardinals are monogamous birds that tend to stay with a single mate throughout their lives or until one loses the other. Their mating season begins in May and lasts till the end of August.

From the time of mating till the time the fledglings are ready to leave the nest, the cardinal bird family tends to stay together. But how long does a baby cardinal stay in the nest?

Baby cardinals are ready to leave the nest in 7-13 days after the incubation period that lasts for 11 to 13 days. They stay with their parent cardinals for 20 days till they are finally ready to explore the world for themselves.

a juvenile cardinal

How Long Do Baby Cardinals Stay In The Nest?

The lifespan of a cardinal bird involves various stages that begin when a female cardinal lays eggs. Usually, the female cardinal lays 3 to 4 eggs which are incubated for 11-13 days. The incubation period is the second stage of a cardinal’s lifespan.

During the incubation, the female cardinal stays with the eggs in her nest, while the male cardinal fetches the food for the female cardinal to feed it while it remains in her incubation mode.

a baby cardinal

How Long Does It Take For Cardinal Eggs To Hatch?

Cardinal pair is most likely to stay together throughout if you see a loner, then the mate of that loner is somewhere nearby.

The eggs take 11 to 13 days to get hatched. The female cardinal stays on the eggs until the eggs begin to hatch. Once the eggs are hatched, the male cardinal ensures the feeding of both the mother and the young ones.

Fun Fact

Cardinals do not reuse the old nest for the next breeding session.

What Happens During The Incubation Period?

If you want to see a sign of blessings, see if a cardinal catches your sight.

During incubation, the female cardinal stays on the eggs to ensure that adequate heat is provided to the eggs. Once the incubation is completed, the female cardinal along with the father cardinal feeds the nestlings.

The mother cardinal does not leave the nest even after the eggs have been concocted. It is, therefore, the male parent cardinal that takes the responsibility of feeding the mother as well the hatchlings.

a baby cardinal in nest

What Stage Arrives After Incubation?

A cardinal is thought to be a representative of a lost loved one. If one can be seen around you then perhaps it's an omen.

Once incubated, the nestlings are taken care of by their parent cardinals. This is the duration when the nestlings require immense care and nurturing. It is known as the nestling phase of a cardinal’s life cycle.

During the phase of nestling, the young ones are nurtured and fed by both parents. This phase is likely to last for 13 to 14 days.

When Are Nestlings Ready To Fly?

The symbol of loyalty, a cardinal stays with its mate forever.

Nestlings are most likely to be able to fetch food for themselves after 20 days of incubation. By this time, the young ones should have learned to take flight and go beyond the frontiers of the nest.

a young cardinal

Fun Fact

When the nestlings have learned how to fly, they are taken care of by the male parent.

How Long Are Young Cardinals Likely To Stay With Their Parent Cardinals?

Since cardinals are monogamous and are often thought of as a symbol of togetherness and loyalty. Therefore, they are likely to stay close to their parents even after attaining adolescence that is their juvenile phase that extends for a year after which they engage with other juveniles of the flock.

A cardinal family is likely to stay together for a year. They may not stay in the same nest the next breeding season but they flock together when fall arrives.

Fun Fact

Male cardinals are extremely territorial and tend to drive away any male cardinal that they see around their mate.

Warning

If you have a domestic cat, then keep it leashed or it will prey on the cardinals.

What’s More About A Cardinal’s Lifecycle?

a baby cardinal out of nest

Cardinals are amongst the various birds which do not migrate and are most likely to be seen in the backyards of most homes.

Although these birds are quite shy and just like a hummingbird, they tend to dwell in secluded places which are surrounded by dense thickets.

However, unlike the mean and antisocial hummingbird, cardinals are quite friendly to humans. They are easy to make friends with through genuine affection.

Cardinals have a distinct lifespan that ranges from 3 years to 15 years. Their lifecycle comprises various stages which involve:

  • Laying eggs
  • Incubation phase
  • Nestling period
  • Learning to beyond the nest
  • The juvenile phase
  • Adulthood or maturity phase

Amongst the above-mentioned phases of a cardinal’s lifecycle, the most essential stage is the nestling period. It is the time when the baby cardinals require an immense amount of nurturing which lasts no longer than 13 days.

Keep Reading!

Nestlings take 7 to 13 days to stay in the nest under the care of their parent cardinals. By the 20th day of their nurturing and learning, the young ones can go beyond the horizons of their nest and join the other juveniles to flock with.

However, the juveniles tend to stay no farther from the nest built by their parents. If you want to learn to capture these redheaded beautiful songbirds in your camera and are not aware of how to do it the right way then read my post on backyard bird watching essential gear for beginners.

Backyard Bird Watching Essential Gear for Beginners - Fantastic & Amazing Guide

Are you interested in knowing what could make your bird-watching experience enthralling? Read on to find out about the essential gear you need to own.

Iñigo Navarro Picture

By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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