What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (2023)

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (1)

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (2)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (3)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (4)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (5)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (6)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (7)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (8)


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.

DAVID SEEDS Roasted and Salted Original Jumbo Sunflower Seeds

Contains (12) 5.25 ounce bags of David original jumbo sunflower seeds

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (10)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (11)

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.

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (12)

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?

What Eats Cardinals? Full List of 24 Cardinal Predators (14)

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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Do barred owls eat cardinals? ›

Barred and long-eared owls are the only owls that have been documented eating cardinals. Cardinals are eaten by several other raptors, but not to the extent that the sharp-shinned, coopers, and marsh hawks do.

Do raccoons eat cardinal eggs? ›

These pesky little bandits are infamous for raiding nests and eating bird eggs. A raccoon's diet is far from particular — it will eat pretty much anything. Because they usually live in tree cavities, bird nests are easy for raccoons to find.

Where are cardinals in the food chain? ›

Where Do Cardinals Fit in the Animal Food Chain? Cardinals play an essential role in the animal food chain as both prey and predators. In their role as prey, cardinals provide an excellent source of protein nutrients to the vast range of organisms that feed on them.

How do cardinals survive predators? ›

Cardinals build their nests in live trees, shrubs, or vine tangles, anywhere up to about 15 feet high. Higher nests, and nests placed in denser tangles, seem to offer some relief from predators.

What animal kills cardinals? ›

Adult northern cardinals are eaten by domestic cats, domestic dogs, Cooper's hawks, loggerhead shrikes, northern shrikes, eastern gray squirrels, long-eared owls and eastern screech-owls. Nestlings and eggs are eaten by snakes, birds and small mammals.

What birds feed cardinals? ›

Bird seeds that have been known to attract Cardinals include black oil sunflower, cracked corn, suet, Nyjer® seed, mealworms, peanuts, safflower, striped sunflower, and sunflower hearts and chips.

Will a squirrel eat a cardinal? ›

Yes, squirrels will eat birds. Squirrels, like many mammals, are opportunistic omnivores.

How long do cardinals live? ›

Some bird pairs stick together for several years or even as long as they both live (on average, a cardinal's lifespan is about three to five years).

What is killing birds in my yard? ›

Four major killers can doom birds in our yards: glass windows, outdoor cats, pesticides, and disease.

What animals eat baby cardinals? ›

Adult northern cardinals are predated by domestic cats, domestic dogs, Cooper's hawks, loggerhead shrikes, northern shrikes, eastern gray squirrels, long-eared owls and eastern screech-owls. Nestlings and eggs are vulnerable to predation by snakes, birds and small mammals.

What is cardinals favorite food? ›

Safflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, and white milo are among a Northern Cardinal's favorite seed options. In addition to large seeds, Cardinals enjoy eating crushed peanuts, cracked corn, and berries. During the winter, small chunks of suet are another great choice.

What bird is highest on the food chain? ›

Bald eagles are apex predators - they sit at the top of the food chain. Nothing hunts or eats them.

How do cardinals survive? ›

Unlike many other species of birds, cardinals do not migrate during the cold winter months. Instead, they stick around and forage for wild berries, nuts and seeds. All while seeking shelter and security in evergreen trees, shrubs, and even overgrown thickets.

Do Blue Jays scare away cardinals? ›

Blue Jays VS Cardinals

Yes, blue jays do scare away cardinals. They may even take it so far as to bully any bird that is smaller than them. They are like the bullies of the playground in the bird world.

What is a flock of cardinals called? ›

A group of cardinals can be called a college, conclave, deeck, radiance, or a Vatican of cardinals.

What animal kills the most birds? ›

The research shows that cats are the No. 1 killer by a long shot, racking in roughly 2.4 billion bird deaths each year, according to median estimates. Buildings take second, with nearly 600 million kills, and cars follow with nearly 200 million deaths.

What bird has the most kills? ›

#1: Southern Cassowary: The World's Most Dangerous Bird

Most of these attacks were the result of humans trying to feed or otherwise interact with these large birds.

Do snakes eat cardinals? ›

Snakes are capable of catching cardinals for food and also capable of consuming the cardinal eggs and offspring. There are many different types of snakes within the natural habitation area of the cardinal that eat birds and could be potential predators to the cardinal if they have the opportunity.

Why have my cardinals disappeared? ›

About 40% of adult cardinals die each year. Most die during the winter in February and March when food supplies are low. Death may not be due to starvation but a weakened immune system or being forced to search for food in more open areas where birds of prey and other predators can kill them.

What is a cardinals favorite bird feeder? ›

Studies have shown that cardinals prefer ground and platform feeders. A hopper feeder with adequate perches, or a large tube feeder with a tray underneath, can provide a similar experience. Suet feeders are a great cold-weather option for feeding cardinals.

Are cardinals afraid of other birds? ›

As I mentioned, cardinals are known to be territorial birds and may see another bird as a threat. Any time you see a cardinal, or any bird, pecking or tapping on a window he has most likely seen his own reflection and is challenging himself!

What birds are squirrels afraid of? ›

The Dalen Scarecrow Horned Owl works to keep squirrels at bay because the lifelike bird is a predator that squirrels work to avoid. This hand-painted owl stands 16 inches tall so that it is close in size to a real owl out in the wild. This owl is easy to place.

What will keep squirrels away but not birds? ›

Peppers have “capsaicin” which squirrels hate, so it's a natural squirrel deterrent. Or, make a pepper spray; you can mix dried pepper with apple cider vinegar. Note: Birds can't taste capsaicin, so add some cayenne pepper to those bird feeders to deter squirrels.

Will raccoons eat birds? ›

Raccoons occasionally kill poultry and leave distinctive signs. The heads of adult birds are usually bitten off and left some distance from the body. The crop and breast may be torn and chewed, the entrails sometimes eaten, and bits of flesh left near water.

Do cardinals recognize humans? ›

A friendly relationship exists between cardinals and humans. Cardinals often visit human backyards. They can even recognize human voices. Despite the presence of humans, cardinals spend a lot of time on their nesting sites without any hesitation.

How many babies do cardinals have? ›

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-5 eggs
Number of Broods:1-2 broods
Egg Length:0.9-1.1 in (2.2-2.7 cm)
Egg Width:0.7-0.8 in (1.7-2 cm)
Incubation Period:11-13 days
3 more rows

What does it mean when cardinals feed each other? ›

Cardinals engage in a behavior called courtship feeding, in which males fetch seeds and feed them to female mates. It is a delicate act by a typically assertive bird, and it's easy to understand why humans interpret such a gesture as motivated by love and affection.

What kills birds but doesn't eat them? ›

If birds are dead but not eaten and have parts still intact, a weasel may have attacked the flock. Often the chickens' bodies are bloodied. Also, you might notice that internal organs have been eaten. If birds are dead and not eaten but are missing their heads, the predator may be a raccoon, a hawk, or an owl.

What animal kills birds at night? ›

Bird Predators: Bats

This means that most of their hunting activity is done at night. Their eyesight is well adjusted for detecting prey and hunting them. They hunt for fish, lizards, frogs, and birds. Noctule bats are a species of bats that attack songbirds in flight and eat their catch in the air.

How do I protect my backyard birds from predators? ›

Natural cover is ideal for protecting birds from attacks by hawks and other predators. Think brush piles, dense trees, and shrubbery within 8 feet of your bird feeder. The idea is that a bird will be able to hide when feeling threatened.

Do crows eat baby cardinals? ›

Now, let's be clear, crows will absolutely kill and eat eggs, nestlings and even adult birds if they can get their hands on one.

Do cardinals stay in the same area? ›

Cardinals generally stay in the same area, which helps get a jump-start on nesting, with some laying eggs by February. For their first nests in early spring, cardinals often choose the protection of evergreens.

Do Dad cardinals feed their babies? ›

Both male and female care for the nestlings, but the male contributes more food. When the babies fledge, the male will feed and care for them while the female goes off to start a new nest to raise another brood.

Do cardinals like bananas? ›

Birds that eat bananas: northern cardinal, gray catbird, Canada jay, scarlet tanager. Serving suggestion: Remove the peel and cut in half lengthwise.

What time of day do cardinals feed? ›

Cardinals are not shy about taking food from a feeder. They're usually the first birds at the feeder in the morning and the last ones to feed at dusk. Because cardinals eat so early in the morning and so late at dusk, they seem to have plenty of time for singing during the midday while other birds are feeding.

Do cardinals have a favorite tree? ›

Native trees and shrubs are always a good bet when you want to attract local birds. Some of the cardinals' favorite trees include mulberry, serviceberry, flowering dogwood, crabapple, and spruce. Shrubs at the top of their feeding list include staghorn sumac, red-osier dogwood, gray dogwood, and viburnum species.

What animal has no known predators? ›

Animals with no natural predators are called apex predators, because they sit at the top (or apex) of the food chain. The list is indefinite, but it includes lions, grizzly bears, crocodiles, giant constrictor snakes, wolves, sharks, electric eels, giant jellyfish, killer whales, polar bears, and arguably, humans.

What is the fastest bird on food? ›

The peregrine falcon is best known for its diving speed during flight—which can reach more than 300 km (186 miles) per hour—making it not only the world's fastest bird but also the world's fastest animal.

What is the largest meat eating bird? ›

The Andean condor is the largest living bird of prey. The Eurasian black vulture is the largest Old World bird of prey.

What do cardinals do when their mate dies? ›

What Happens When A Cardinal Loses their Mate? Although birds like cardinals do mate for life, to a certain extent, when one of their lives ends, they will seek out a new mate. On average, around 60% of cardinals survive every year, which sadly means around 40% of all cardinals die every year.

Where do cardinals shelter in winter? ›

More often, they spend winter nights roosting with other goldfinches in coniferous trees. Northern Cardinals: As with Blue Jays, cardinals will roost with others of their own kind in dense, evergreen vegetation on winter nights. Nuthatches: Most nuthatches will seek out old, unused woodpecker holes for a night's rest.

Do cardinals ever reuse a nest? ›

Northern cardinals don't usually reuse the same nest twice. Cardinals build new nests every year — and more than once in a single year. Next, learn about what foods cardinals eat and how to attract them.

Why do cardinals chirp so much? ›

Cardinals make this call when warning off intruders to their territory, when predators are near, as females approach their nests, and by both sexes as they carry food to the nest or when trying to get nestlings to leave the nest.

Can a cardinal and a blue jay mate? ›

But whatever color a blue jay/cardinal mix might be, Marilyn's answer was that the birds "belong to different species, so they won't crossbreed." She is right about blue jays and cardinals--no crossbred specimens are known.

Which bird is the toughest? ›

What is the strongest bird? But, unbelievably, pound for pound, the crown for strongest bird goes to the black wheatear.

What is a cardinal spirit animal? ›

Cardinal as your spirit animal means you have confident, active, and seize opportunities that come your way. We do not choose our spirit animals, but rather, they choose us. Does the cardinal keep appearing in real life, dreams, or visions? It may be your spirit animal!

What are the three types of cardinals? ›

The three ranks of cardinals are cardinal bishop, cardinal deacon, and cardinal priest. Only six cardinals hold the title of cardinal bishop. Each cardinal bishop holds jurisdiction over a church in a suburb of Rome. These cardinals work in departments of the Roman Curia, the central administration of the church.

Do cardinals sleep with their babies? ›

Do Cardinals Sleep Alone Or In Groups? In general, cardinals are fairly solitary birds except during mating season. During the breeding season, you'll often find a breeding pair sleeping together. In addition, a mother bird will sleep with her babies because she has to keep them warm.

What kind of birds do Barred Owls eat? ›

Barred owls eat small birds like house sparrows, grouse, and wrens, as well as salamanders, insects, turtles, frogs, snakes, chickens, and fish. They particularly like cliff swallows which are one of the few birds they actively hunt instead of taking when the opportunity arises.

Do Barred Owls eat smaller birds? ›

Barred Owls are generalists and opportunistic predators. Small mammals and rabbits make up most of their diet, but they also eat birds up to the size of grouse, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

What are Barred Owls enemies? ›

Barred owls are preyed on by raccoons and weasels as eggs and nestlings. Adults are sometimes killed by great horned owls, northern goshawks, hit by cars, and captured in traps set for mammals.

What owl is the biggest? ›

The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in North America. It is sometimes called the cat owl. This widespread bird of prey lives in mountains, grasslands, conifer forests, deserts, chapparals, and many other habitats in North and South America. Its scientific name is Bubo virginianus (Genus and species).

Why does a barred owl scream? ›

These owls also have a few other typical calls which rise in pitch and volume until reaching a final "wack-oh!" or "woo-HOO!" The former of these is a spring vocalization used to help find a mate. Barred Owls will often vocalize together in courtship season.

What are barred owls scared of? ›

Try noisemakers, alarms, horns or whistles. If you annoy the owl enough, the owl will go away.

Will a barred owl eat a crow? ›

Owls will eat crows but generally do not. Owls, despite having sharp hooked talons and meat tearing beaks, have feathers modified to be quiet in flight to aid them in homing in on food, live prey.

What animals do owls eat the most? ›

Their main prey is the field vole, but they also prey on bank voles, shrews, mice, rats and small birds. It is actually not that uncommon for some barn owl chicks to eat each other when in the nest! Barn owls have exceptional hearing.

Will owls eat baby birds? ›

Owls eat both baby and adult birds. Great horned owls, for example, often feed on the hatchlings of other large birds like crows, ravens, ospreys, and hawks.

Will a fake owl keep small birds away? ›

Yes, fake owls tend to deter large birds, such as hawks and other owls, but they can deter small birds as well.

Can owls carry away small dogs? ›

Most dogs (and cats) are large enough to be safe from hawks and owls. Even very small dogs may be too heavy for a hawk or owl to carry, although it's still possible that large raptors might attack them.

Do owls eat small dogs? ›

The answer is yes, Great Horned Owls do on rare occasions attempt to catch and kill small cats and very small dogs. They are not always successful in attempts to kill them, but pets can wind up with significant injuries if they survive an attack.

What do owls defend themselves with? ›

The owl uses its talons to snatch, squeeze, and kill prey animals. It also uses talons to defend itself against predators, such as hawks, other owls, badgers, and raccoons. Many owls have feathered legs and feet for warmth. Snowy Owls, for example, who live in the cold Arctic, have heavily feathered legs and feet.

What birds do owls fight? ›

It is true! Owls Vs crows is a fight that seems impossible because these two animals are not even active at the same time. Owls are nocturnal, while crows are diurnal and awake during the day. However, these two birds have a feud that seems built into their very DNA.

What critters are afraid of owls? ›

Wising Up to Owls

They tried owls because so many birds and small mammals, like rabbits, are frightened of the winged predator—and a frightened rabbit should be, in theory, less inclined to nibble on lettuce in a garden overshadowed by an owl.


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