Red birds are a completely red bird with a substantial crest; around bill, eyes and throat a black narrow border. The red bird is a songbird that lives up to its name, too! Both sexes sing to mark their territory. Within the group of songbirds, they fall under the ‘cardinal-like’.
The first discoverers of this bird, called it “Virginian nightingale” because of its beautiful loud song, which it also plays at night. It needs a spacious enclosure and during the mating season it leaves neither conspecifics nor other birds alone.
The beautiful female is easy to recognize because it is almost entirely brown in color, the beak of the female is dark brown. Let’s take a look about the care for red birds.
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Extraordinary behaviour of red birds
Red birds live year-round in fixed pairs that always stay close together. The male is bright red in color and the female is gray-brown with red highlights on her bill and wings. Cardinals are not migratory birds and maintain their territory throughout the year. This territory is fiercely defended against conspecifics.
This is one of the few species of songbirds, where the singing of the male and female is indistinguishable to the human ear. In many species of songbirds, only the males sing, or the song of the males is more complex.
These little red birds with the crazy crest get their name from the attire of Catholic cardinals: lots of red, and with a mitre like St. Nicholas.
A pair of cardinals sometimes stays together for years. But “separations” do occur, and even a bird whose partner dies will look for a new partner.
As a diet, a good seed mixture should be put together. Furthermore, provide a well composed egg food/forage and preferably germ seed. To meet the need for animal protein in the diet, it is best to add an insect/universal food (e.g. 50 egg food, 50% universal food). Give them a good food.
Especially during the period when the birds have young, it is important that they have access to animal protein. In addition to providing a well composed egg food/universal food, extra animal protein should be provided in the form of, for example, mealworms, ant eggs, buffalo worms.
Some daily fruits and vegetables are also eagerly eaten by these birds. In addition to the above food, it is necessary that the birds have daily access to fresh, fresh bath and drinking water, and bird minerals (grit) and stomach gravel should not be missing.
Red cardinals are nest stayers that, however, develop very quickly. They leave the nest when they are only ten days old and not yet fully well feathered. The parents continue to care for the offspring for about three to four weeks longer, until the young are independent. This is mainly done by the male. This is because the female is soon busy incubating the next clutch. This efficient division of labor allows red cardinals to raise four clutches per year.
For successful breeding, it is wise to keep the birds separately by pairs in a flight. They build a bowl-shaped nest that is built only by the female. They use sisal, coconut fiber, dried grass stalks, feathers and moss as building material for the nest. In a densely vegetated aviary, they like to build their nest in bushes. Semi-open nesting boxes are also accepted.
If they build a free-standing nest, it is wise to reinforce it with, for example, a basket or rope nest. The female lays an average of 2 to 4 blue-green, brown speckled eggs. The incubation period is between 12 – 13 days. The eggs are incubated only by the female. The young are fed by both parents, mainly insects. They leave the nest as early as 8 to 9 days of age. At about 5 weeks of age they are independent. A pair of red cardinals can raise several eggs per year.
In the wild
Red cardinals are nest stayers that, however, develop very quickly. They leave the nest when they are only ten days old and not yet fully well feathered. The parents continue to care for the offspring for about three to four weeks longer, until the young are independent.
This is mainly done by the male. This is because the female is soon busy incubating the next clutch. This efficient division of labor allows red cardinals to raise four clutches per year.
Threat and protection
The red cardinal is not in danger of extinction. This beautiful singer used to like to be captured in the United States to keep as a pet, but this was banned more than 100 years ago. The red cardinal is a welcome guest at many feeders in America.
But it cannot live off seeds and nuts year-round: to raise its young, it needs insects! So where insect populations are shrinking significantly, this bird is also facing a problem.