The cardinal is sometimes referred to as the 'winter red bird' due to its bright red plumage that stands out during the winter months. It is a year-round resident of North Carolina, and one of the most common birds in gardens, lawns, and forests. On average, cardinals measure between 8.9 and 9 inches long, and research on bands has shown that they can live up to 15 years. Although they are more common in the southeastern United States, they can be found from Canada to the Gulf.
Male cardinals are bright red with black faces, while females are usually tan or light gray with red ridges, black faces, and touches of red on their wings and tails. They are one of the few species of North American birds whose males and females both sing. Cardinals live in family groups and fiercely protect their territory from predators and other cardinals. If you come too close to a cardinal's nest, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an attack! Male cardinals also protect their breeding territory from intruders of their own species.
They also often mistake their reflection in mirrors or glass windows for an intruder and attack it. North Carolina didn't name a state bird until 1943, but a decade earlier it had a different state bird for a few days. The North Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was selected by popular election as the state's official bird on March 4, 1943. Chapter 145, Section 145-2 of the North Carolina General Statutes recognizes the value of this bird to humans as it eats weed seeds and garden insects. The state of North Carolina chose the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as its state bird in 1943 due to its services to the state. In accordance with North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 145, Section 145-2, this colorful songbird was given the title of state bird because it lives in the state all year round.