Cardinal Birdsong

Cardinal Birdsong: How Do They Sound and Meaning of Their Song

Have you ever heard Cardinal birdsong? If not, then you have missed an incredible sound of nature. These birds, especially the male ones, can sing beautiful and complex songs. They are known as one of the best-singing North American birds.

However, it is not just the sound or song quality that makes them special. They can make a variety of sounds, and each of them has a distinct meaning. There are a number of interesting facts about cardinal birdsong. Read along to learn about them.

What Does Cardinal Birdsong Sound Like?

Cardinal birds sing in a distinctive and melodious voice which makes them one of the best singing birds. The song pattern is beautiful but complex. Besides, both male and female birds have different patterns.

Their songs are often described as “what-cheer, cheer, cheer” or “birdy, birdy, birdy.” in addition, they also make sounds close to “chip” or “tut” calls to communicate with other birds in their group.

What Does Cardinal Birdsong Sound Like
What Does Cardinal Birdsong Sound Like?

Male Cardinal Birdsong

Between male and female Cardinal birds, male birds are known to be the better singers. You can identify their distinctiveness as their songs are more elaborate, complex, and louder. You can hear them singing from a distance a series of clear, whistled notes.

The male cardinals usually sing for three primary reasons:

  • To establish and defend their territory
  • To attract female cardinals, and
  • To warn other birds about possible dangers

Female Cardinal Birdsong

Female cardinals are also great singing birds. Their songs are equally beautiful but are not as complex as male birdsong. Their songs consist of a series of simple, high-pitched notes. They usually sing for the following purposes:

  • To establish and defend their territory
  • To signal their readiness to mate
  • In response to the songs of male cardinals

Why Do the Cardinals Sing?

For you, birds can be natural singers. But that does not mean that they always sing to entertain you. Instead, there are several reasons behind their singing. The same goes for cardinal bird songs. Primarily, they make a sound to communicate. They make different sounds to deliver different messages.

Coordination of Behavior

One of the primary reasons for cardinal birdsong is to deliver messages to its partner and offspring. Before leaving the nest for food, the male bird sings to let its family know that food is on the way. Also, it is a message for the female bird that now she is on guard of their territory.

The male Cardinal will keep singing when it returns with food. It gives a message from a distance that food is ready. And the female Cardinal gets ready to feed their offspring.

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Nonetheless, a male bird sometimes will sing while returning from an outside trip. It may have no connection with food. So, singing is an important way for a male cardinal to coordinate behavior in daily life.

Cardinals Mating Call

The cardinal mating call is one of the finest natural phenomena to witness. If you happen to get a chance, do not miss it. Lille most animals, the male and female cardinals sing to attract their mates. But what makes them unique and beautiful is their mating.

To establish a strong bond between themselves, both male and female cardinals keep singing to each other during mating. One bird will start a song, and the other will finish the song. Usually, the male begins, but sometimes, the female also starts the song.

They keep repeating the song a few times. Then the song is changed. One bird will change the song and start a new one, and the other will match and finish the phrase. It is a wonderful way of communicating with each other.

Forming Territory

When male and female cardinals choose each other as mates, they look for a place where they can raise their children. It is called territorial formation. During this time, the couple keeps singing back and forth to each other. It is their way of communication.

While forming their territory, they look for places where it is easy to make a nest and has a good source of food, vegetation, and cover. Through making different sounds, they inform each other regarding the condition of different spots before choosing a place as their territory.

Rival Cardinal Birdsong

Birds do not always sing to attract their mate. Sometimes, they sing to warn an intruder or to fight with another bird to defend their territory. During this time, the song pattern slightly changes as they are no longer singing for romance. It is an irony of nature that their quarrel also sounds like music to us.

Warning Each Other

Cardinals are social beings. When one bird senses any danger, it will send signals to other birds, especially to its mate. Their warning sound is often described as a “chip” or “tik” sound. These sounds are typically shorter and sharper than the Cardinal’s regular song.

Female cardinals can understand the warning sound immediately and respond appropriately. They get alarmed to protect their children. If they are already in the trees, they may move to a different location or remain still and silent to avoid attracting attention.

To Attract Parents’ Attention

Of course, little young birds cannot defend or feed themselves. They have to draw the attention of their parents for any sort of help. When they are hungry and need food, they call their parents. Also, if they are scared of intruders, they call their parents for help.

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To draw attention, they make different sounds, including small peeps, whines, rasps, wheezes, and chirps. Begging calls are usually louder than typical sounds.

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Spiritual Meaning of Cardinal Birdsong

Cardinals are related to spirituality, especially the yellow ones. Yellow Cardinals have much spiritual significance. You can learn about their spiritual significance then read this article: yellow cardinal spiritual meaning. As Cardinals are associated with spirituality, their songs also have spiritual significance.

In Christianity

You must have seen that male cardinals are strikingly red. In Christianity, they are considered the spiritual symbol of the blood of Christ. The bright red color of the male Cardinal is thought to represent the blood shed on the cross.

So, the Cardinal’s song of Cardinal is believed to represent the voice of a loved one who has passed away. Many also believe that it is a message from the divine and the deceased for the living ones.

In Native American Cultures

Cardinals are an important part of American culture. They are seen as a symbol of love, warmth, and vitality. Their song is thought to represent the call of the spirit world. Some tribes believe that the Cardinal’s presence can bring good luck and blessing, and so their song is the early signal of good news.

Yellow Cardinal’s Song

Yellow cardinals are widely regarded as a symbol of growth, positivity, and happiness. They are rare, and so their song has a spiritual significance too. Some people consider their song to be a call to be positive and confident about the future.


Cardinal birdsong is beautiful and soothing that cardinals use to communicate with each other. Besides, it has a spiritual significance for humans. The unique melodies and rhythms of the Cardinal’s song have inspired songs, poems, and works of art throughout history. If you ever get the opportunity to hear them live, don’t miss the chance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do male cardinals sing more than females?

Male cardinals use singing more than female cardinals, as singing is a part of their territorial coordination, mating, and defense.

Can cardinals mimic other bird songs or sounds?

No. Cardinals are not known for having a mimic ability. However, they can include the sound of other creatures in their song. For example, you can hear them, including the call of a hawk or a car alarm in their song.

How often do the cardinals sing?

Cardinals, especially red cardinals, are known as singing birds. Their singing count varies depending on various factors. But on average, a male cardinal sings 200 to 600 times in an hour!

Do cardinals sing at night?

It is unlikely for cardinals to sing at night as they are diurnal birds which means they are more active during the day and take rest at night.