What Eats Cardinals?
Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators

Are you here searching for the animals that feed on Cardinals? Read ahead to find it out.

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David A. Swanson

June 06, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Cardinals are one of the most majestic and attractive birds acknowledged by several states because of their beauty and soothing chirps.

Regions, including North America, also use its pictures in their local greeting cards for the sake of aesthetics.

However, along with all the beauty and delicacy, these birds are fragile and vulnerable to larger predator birds. Many animals feed on these red color soulful birds, be it some on-land animal or bird.

Northern cardinals get preyed upon by a bunch of predators that include accipiter hawks, falcons, bald eagles, different kinds of owls, shrikes, golden eagles, and also long-eared owls. Other than these birds, there are cats, foxes, and dogs in predatory mammals. The predatory reptiles include snakes.

a molting cardinal

What Animals Prey on the Cardinals?

Animals like dogs and foxes are less successful at catching cardinals than cats because of lesser flexibility.

There are a bunch of animals that prey on cardinals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles.

The majority of cardinals’ predators belong to the birds’ category, where different types of owls like barred owls, long-eared owls, and various types of hawks are included.

The different types of Hawks that prey on cardinals include a sharp-shinned hawk, Marsh Hawk, and Cooper’s Hawk.

a sharp shinned hawk

However, there are predatory mammals as well that do great harm to the Cardinals.

Mammals like cats are among the most significant threats for cardinals and prey on these red birds early in the morning.

Cats do not attack cardinals while they are in flight, but they directly grab them from their nests. Animals like dogs and foxes also attempt to prey on cardinals.

Eastern Gray Squirrels
Fox Squirrels
Eastern Chipmunks
Sharp-Shinned Hawks
Marsh Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Accipiter Hawk
Barred Owls
Long-Eared Owls
Eastern Screech-Owls
Bald Eagles
Golden Eagles
Loggerhead Shrikes
Northern Shrikes
Blue Jays
Milk Snakes
Coluber Constrictors

Do Reptiles Feed on Cardinals and Their Eggs?

Since cardinals feed on the ground mostly, reptiles also tend to feed on cardinals. Reptiles like snakes can catch cardinals and pray on them.

Not only cardinals, but these reptiles also feed on the eggs of the cardinals and sometimes the offspring as well. Not only certain but different types of snakes feed on cardinals by living near their habitat.

a snake on tree

These snakes can hide in the bushes where cardinals make their nest and can be potential predators for these attractive birds once they get an opportunity.

What Animals Prey on Cardinals Eggs?

Larger mammals like cats and dogs do not prefer eating the eggs of the cardinals because it is an insufficient meal for them. However, small mammals like squirrels, shrikes, and chipmunks love to pray on cardinal eggs.

Not only these mammals but many birds also attack cardinal eggs. Larger birds like hawks and owls love to eat cardinal eggs more often.

Moreover, a wide variety of snakes secretly attack cardinal eggs when the female Cardinal is out of the nest.

Not only do snakes attack Cardinals’ eggs, but there are different smaller birds like blue jays that love to munch on cardinal eggs as well.

a blue jay bird

What are the Identification Features of a Cardinal?

The bright, brilliant red color is the primary identification of a male cardinal with a black face mark and reddish beaks.

However, female cardinals do not possess the bright red color, and they have a greyish brown appearance instead with few tints of red in the tails.

Once you identify a male cardinal, you can quickly identify a female one. They have similar appearances with just different colors; however, the size of the female Cardinal is slightly smaller than the male.

Cardinals possess dark red-colored feet and legs. They are sometimes also known as large songbirds and are famous for singing during their breeding season. These delicate birds have long tails that are pointing down.

a red male cardinal bird

What are Cardinals’ Preferences for Habitat?

Cardinals can be very easy-going about their habitat and territory throughout the year; however, their behavior will become highly territorial once their breeding season starts.

Cardinals love to stay near the ground, and they make their nest only five to six feet above the ground. These birds primarily live in North America’s southeast region.

Now, these birds have also spread westward towards Ohio. They have also spread to Ontario because of their easy-to-adapt nature. They are very adaptable and can live anywhere, including backyards and parks.

Cardinals prefer to build their habitats in regions with shrubs and vines. Since they prefer to stay near to the ground, only a few feet above, they pick those branches of trees that are low lying to remain close to the ground.

a male cardinal bird


If you are interested in attracting cardinals to your backyard, you must remember that cardinals have a wondrous love for seeds and especially larger-sized seeds. Although cardinals are omnivores, they prefer eating seeds more than any other food.

You can explore the DAVID SEEDS Roasted And Salted Original Jumbo Sunflower Seeds.

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What are the Misconceptions About Cardinals?

There are a lot of misconceptions about cardinals. A few most common misconceptions include that many people think these birds migrate in the winter months.

Cardinals stay in the same area and do not migrate. However, cardinals prefer to remain as a flock in the winter season around or inside bushes.

There is a high chance that each flock contains more than 70 cardinals at a time inside a bush.

Because of all the fame and popularity, many people also believe that cardinals can be found in abundance. However, urban development has caused a steep decrease in their numbers.

Did You Know?

Angry Birds is a famous game, which built this misconception that cardinals are aggressive and angry. On the contrary, cardinals are delightful and friendly birds until it's not their breeding season. These brilliant red-colored birds are only aggressive when they have to protect their territory throughout the nesting season.

What is the Ecological Role of Cardinals?

Just like humans, cardinals are also omnivores and can be found eating both animal and plant material.

They are highly essential for the ecosystem because cardinals are seed dispersals that allow seeds of various plants to get appropriately scattered in the environment.

Assuming that you already know seeds are one of the top favorite foods of cardinals, you can realize how important they can be for seed scattering.

What are Cardinals’ Nesting Habits?

Female cardinals might sit on the eggs when they are laid for a short period to leave and look for food. Until female cardinals do not lay the final egg, they will keep on visiting the nest.

If you see cardinals in your garden and want to enjoy seeing them nest as well, you might have to wait until their breeding season, which starts from early March and can last up to late September.

In their breeding season, the female Cardinal can lay up to five eggs with dark marks on the eggs’ overall off-white appearance. Cardinals do not prefer birdhouses.

The prime location that they search for making the nest must have a dense shrubbery environment around. The nest can be as near as one foot above the ground.

female cardinal incubating eggs

The female Cardinal takes up the responsibility of making the nest while the male counterpart guards her. They make their nests with different bark strips, rootlets, paper, vine leaves, and a bunch of twigs.

Fun Fact

Although cardinals do not use birdhouses because they feel unsafe inside them, they might use any abandoned bird feeder because it provides the required cover.

Do Cardinals Feed Hatchlings Once They Start Flying?

Once the first pair of hatchlings start flying, the female Cardinal prepares the nest for the second batch of the brood. The priority is to make a new nest nearby.

They will not use the previous one; however, the male Cardinal will entertain the last brood. The Cardinal also feeds those hatchlings that have flown away.

After about ten days of hatching, these cardinal hatchlings will fly away.

The mother cardinals get busy making the new nest; the male Cardinal, on the contrary, will feed the baby cardinals for about two weeks. The male Cardinal will protect these babies and the territory as well.


You might think you would be helping cardinals by removing their old nest. However, nearby old nests will make it easier for cardinals to decide other nesting locations even though they will not reuse the old nest.

a baby cardinal in the nest

Keep Reading!

Once you start hosting cardinals in your backyard, you may get concerned about them and would want to eliminate every hazard that can cause harm to them.

The most common problem that cardinals have to face is their predators, and there are many of them out there.

When it comes to mammals, few domestic animals like cats and dogs love to prey on cardinals.

Other than these domestic mammals, foxes, eastern grey squirrels, and rodents also feast on cardinals. Some chipmunks may also try to attack and eat cardinals.

The majority of the predators include marsh hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, long-eared owl, bald Eagles, Golden Eagle, Falcon, and blue jays.

Here’s an interesting post on whether cardinals move their babies from the nests or not. Read on to find out more.

Do Cardinals Move Their Babies? Find Out!

Wondering why the nest is empty when you just saw cardinal eggs yesterday? They aren’t moved by the parent generally – Could it be an attack?

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David 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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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David 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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