Where and How do Cardinals Sleep?
It's Super Cute!

Have you ever observed a cardinal when it is sleeping? If not, then read below to know where and how they sleep!

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David A. Swanson

June 20, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Cardinals sleep in many different places. Their preference on where and how to sleep depends on several factors that are discussed ahead. Different species tend to have different preferences in terms of time, place, and position.

It is a rare sight to see a cardinal sleeping though. Most cardinals have designated areas where they build a safe place for themselves to sleep. However, their sleeping behavior may change with seasons.

Cardinals usually prefer sleeping in high trees, in birdhouses, unoccupied branches, or tree cavities. They look for places that will keep them safe and offer protection to them.

cardinalbird perched

Is Roosting the Same as Sleeping?

There is often confusion about the difference between roosting and sleeping.

Roosting refers to a period of inactivity that is quite similar to sleeping. Birds that are open-nesters, flock together on winter nights to sleep in a communal roost. They usually roost in dense trees or shrubs.

cardinal sitting on a feeder at night

Birds, including cardinals, have periods of quiet sleep and active sleep. In the roosting period, they go through a phase of ‘quiet sleep’, where they open their eyes at intervals.

The peeking consistency depends on the time and place of roosting. During the breeding season, the male cardinal will peek more to be aware to protect their nest and mate.

Interesting Fact

Bachelor male cardinals peek less in the breeding season while roosting as they do not have a nest or a partner to protect.

Where Do Cardinals Prefer To Sleep?

Certain evaluations need to be done for a cardinal to decide where it wants to rest or sleep.

Cardinals prefer to sleep in elevated places such as high above in the trees. Cardinals usually look for places that provide them shelter and a place to cover their heads, keeping them secure from any lurking predators.

cardinal sitting on a branch

In cases of rain, a cardinal rushes towards a sheltered place like a tree cavity and sticks to that place to rest. This is why their sleeping spots may change often depending on the situation.

The reasons why dense shrubs and covered branches are an ideal place for the cardinals is because:

  • They provide complete protection.

  • They are perfect to stay for a long time.

  • They provide safety from harsh weather conditions.

Cardinals always inspect and evaluate the place they plan to sleep in. Some cardinals may mark their territory and come to the same spot every night, while others may prefer to alternate between different spots.

Fun Fact

Male cardinals are very territorial and may defend their place aggressively.

What Are the Reasons for Cardinals to Choose a Particular Spot?

There are various reasons why cardinals may choose one spot over another.

cardinal sitting around a tree

The primary reason for cardinals to choose a specific spot include two main concerns; safety and peace. They want to rest and sleep in places that are considered safe from predators and are quiet.


The main factor that determines their plan to stay is safety. If the cardinals do not feel safe, they will not be able to rest properly.

Cardinal’s main aim is to find a safe spot for themselves. This may include a tree branch, cavity, or even a small birdhouse. If they are at ease, they will rest and spend the night at that particular place.

They mostly prefer places that are not close to the ground. Places near the ground are dangerous for birds such as cardinals because they can get easily be preyed upon.

Interesting Fact

Safety is the topmost priority of a cardinal and is the first factor that they look for while finding a place to sleep.

Good View

high perching spot

Another thing that the cardinals prefer in a place is the viewing angle. The cardinals while resting want a good view to look out for any signs of danger.

If they notice an unrecognizable voice or movement, they will want to look around the place for any potential threats.

If the viewing angle is not good, then the cardinals may be caught or killed by predators. This is what these birds want to avoid while resting.

They want to make sure that their surrounding is safe and that they are prepared for any unexpected danger that might come their way during the night time when they are sleeping.

Peaceful Sleep

The cardinals want to rest and sleep peacefully just like many other birds. Unexpected noises and hassles are very common in the wild, that is why cardinals look for a high quiet spot for them to sleep in.

These high spots not only ensure peaceful sleep but also help provide protection and safety against other creatures.

Did You Know?

A cardinal may fluff up its feathers when sleeping, to cover its body and maintain a certain temperature.

Easy Movements

Birds are always prone to danger and threat in the wild. Cardinals try to secure spots from where they can quickly act if they sense danger. The place where they sleep should be easy to escape without getting trapped.

The main aim is to find a place that will hide the existence of the cardinal or a place that is high enough to make it difficult for most predators to reach.

This is why cardinals carefully evaluate the places before settling down in them. These factors are how they strategize their safety.

Did You Know?

Quick reactions are essential for a bird to keep themselves safe

How Do Changing Seasons Affect the Cardinal’s Sleeping Spots?

Weather and seasonal changes may affect the sleeping spots of cardinals in certain ways. Read below to find out.

cardinal sitting on a bark of a tree

The factors that cardinals look for while choosing the perfect place are all discussed above. The changing weather or season is also regarded as an important factor that determines where a cardinal will sleep.

The breeding season or harsh weather conditions need to be accounted for when searching for a place to sleep.


During the breeding season, territorial birds like cardinals become defensive about their space and prefer to sleep in their territory and nest. As soon as the breeding period ends, these birds move to another nest or territory.

To learn about the aggressive nature of cardinals, read this post to find out more about them.

Are Cardinals Aggressive? Humans & Other Birds, Beware!

The beautiful North-American birds are pretty eye-catching, but they are known for being wild. Read on to learn more about a cardinal’s nature.

Fun Fact

Cardinals in cold seasons tuck their bills and feet into their feathers.

Weather Conditions

male female cardinal in snow

When faced with harsh weather conditions such as heavy rains or strong winds, cardinals tend to switch places and go for what is convenient at that moment.

They usually try to find instant shelter in unoccupied birdhouses, dense shrubs, chimneys, sheltered roofs, or even tree cavities. They might temporarily reside in those places until the weather gets back to normal.

Fun Fact

In winters, cardinals bill breathes out warm air from their body which keeps them insulated from the extreme cold.

How Can You Help Cardinals in Finding the Place They Are Looking for?

If you are looking to help cardinals in finding a safe space to sleep, here is what you can do.

a cardinal enjoying nature

Wondering how you can contribute to helping cardinals find their sleeping and resting spots? Here are some tips and tricks you can follow to keep them safe and healthy.

Some cardinals may find your backyard attractive and may plan to settle in. If you are interested to welcome these beautiful birds then here is what you can do.

Hang the Perky Pet Cardinal feeder in your yard and fill them up with seeds and nuts that are loved by cardinals.

Perky-Pet C00322 Red Cardinal Bird Feeder

Circular perch and mesh surface provides a large feeding area

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Cardinals prefer to munch on sunflower seeds, millet, Nyjer, and suet seeds. These nutrient-rich food sources will make them permanent residents in your backyard.

Plant dense shrubs in your yard or hang birdhouses in a safe place to make your backyard bird-friendly. If cardinals find sheltered areas in your yard, they may settle in.

You can also add roosting boxes and birdbaths in your yard to make it a comfortable and welcoming place for the cardinals.

Turn off excessive lightings in your yard at night. Wild birds like cardinals follow the natural light and dark cycle to plan their day. Bright lighting in the yard may disrupt their routine.

Hang birdhouses, feeders, and roosting boxes at a good enough height so that they are safe from on-ground predators such as stray cats and dogs.

a cardinal looking out

You can learn more about what kind of places cardinals prefer to make your yard more attractive. Once cardinals visit your yard, you can click pictures, watch, and admire their breath-taking beauty.

Keep Reading!

When you study cardinals, you may find many interesting facts and useful information. Cardinals do not have a specific place to sleep or rest. They may switch places according to the factors discussed above.

Their sleeping position and place depend on various external factors such as weather conditions, changing seasons, safety, etc. To learn more about cardinals and their enchanting beauty, you can read this post.

42 Amazing Cardinal Facts You Probably Didn't Know!

Have you spotted another enchanting Cardinal in your backyard today? Read this post to explore astounding facts about Cardinals. You'll be surprised!

David A. Swanson Picture

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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