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Cardinals, Colorful Birds with a Song of Cheer in Sedona Arizona

A northern cardinal is spotted singing on a juniper tree near the Scenic Byway webcam in Sedona, Arizona.A northern cardinal is spotted singing "cheer, cheer, cheer" on a juniper tree near the Scenic Byway webcam in Sedona, Arizona.

From our Red Rock Sedona Scenic Byway webcam, viewers who turn up their computer's speakers are treated to a variety of melodic bird songs, making the experience even more fun than just our daily visual show of sunrise over the red rocks.  One bird that is clearly heard on a regular basis is the northern cardinal, that crimson-crested bird that always puts on a great show at the birdfeeder, eagerly cracking sunflower and millet seeds. It's hard to think of a prettier sight: a bright red bird at the feeder framed by a backdrop of mqjestic red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.

The northern cardinal can be found in most parts of United States east of the Rocky Mountains. It is also found in parts of Arizona (mostly southern), California and New Mexico.

The male cardinal has a distinctive song and can be heard calling with tones that sound like "Cheer, Cheer, Cheer."  The female cardinal also sings, contrary to most other species of female songbirds.

Cardinals are omnivores and dine on a variety of seeds, grains, and fruits. They especially love big, juicy caterpillars and have been observed bringing them down to the ground and pecking at them until their meal is more easily swallowed!

For those interested in natural history facts, the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is the northernmost of three birds in the genus Cardinalis. Although in Arizona its range is limited to mostly southern parts of the state, Sedona is within its range and cardinals are commonly seen at birdfeeders all around town.

They also like to nest in the shrubbery and thick vines around Sedona homes, usually within 3 to 8 feet off the ground (typically twice a year, usually in March and again from May to July). The male cardinal is often seen feeding seeds to the female cardinal during courtship. Their twig and bark nests are soft and cuplike inside and they usually lay four eggs which hatch in twelve days. Baby cardinals develop fast, leaving the nest after eleven days and flying within twenty.

One last interesting note: The red feathers of male cardinals are actually the result of what they eat! Foods with carotenoid pigments (usually red and yellow foods high in vitamin A) are metabolized to create the characteristic red color everyone recognizes. However, the resulting feather color may actually be a very different hue from the ingested pigment.


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