If Cupid’s arrow missed its mark for you, look no further than cardinal courtship for some excellent dating advice for winning over the mate of your dreams.
We’re lucky to be hosting several pairs of Northern Cardinals throughout the year and watching them grow their extended families.
Their courtship behavior works incredibly well for them, so why not apply it to human romance.
Cardinal Courtship for Humans
Tip #1: Be well-groomed and dress sharp.
Big Red, the patriarch of our cardinal flock, is a bright, flaming red, handsome songbird, and it’s thrilling watching him court his mate.
Or, more like, show off to attract a mate.
Cardinal romancing includes courtship and mate-feeding.
But what matters most to female cardinals when choosing their mates is the male’s ornamentation.
That means the appeal of the size of Big Red’s black face mask and the color of his plumage and bill.
Big Red doesn’t have any problems there. His black face mask looks sharp and fabulous, and his plumage and bill have deep, vibrant coloring.
But choosing a mate goes beyond a male’s coloring. It’s all about their attitude.
Tip #2: Stand out in a crowd, impress with your best dance moves, keep other suitors away from your mate and sing to them.
Male cardinals lift up and flap their wings to display their vibrant plumage to female cardinals.
Much like anxious teenagers on a first date, the male cardinal twists, turns, and shifts, showing off his plumage, and starts to sing a song to impress his mate.
Once males begin to court their mate, they become aggressive toward other males solicitous to their lady.
The best way to win over their mate is to sing and sing loudly. These songsters are quite the crooners.
We’ve been hearing cardinals singing throughout the day for a few weeks now, so there’s some serious romancing happening in our backyard.
Cardinal Courtship is All About Pleasing Your Mate
Tip #3: Invite your mate to your home before moving in together to be sure you share the same taste in architecture.
Once they win over their mate, and the female approves of the male’s courtship attempt, the cardinals fly off to a nearby shrub where she welcomes the male to join her company.
Although we can’t know for sure, several courtship attempts may be needed to secure a mate before nesting begins.
Tip #4: Cook for your mate and then feed them.
Mate-feeding occurs when the male cardinal picks up a seed, hops near the female, and touches beaks with the female so she can take the food.
It’s an endearing moment to watch, and the male cardinal will continue mate-feeding the female until she lays eggs and incubates them.
Tip #5: Buy a house big enough for the large family you’ll have together and keep the romance alive by singing to your mate every day.
Cardinals are “socially monogamous,” and pairs stay together throughout the year and may breed for several seasons.
These songbirds must pair up before they can start building their nest, and during nesting season, cardinals have one to two broods each year with two to five eggs in each clutch.
Cardinal Courtship in Our Backyard
We saw our backyard cardinal Big Red romancing his mate this week by feeding her.
Big Red was at the sunflower chip feeder with the other songbirds and then flew to a branch where his mate was waiting.
He fed her several sunflower chips before hopping to a different branch and flying off together.
We feel like match-makers in the romance since we provide Big Red with sunflower chips.
Big Red and Mrs. C have been together several days now, and he always makes sure to feed his lady.
We’ve even spotted Mrs. C with nesting material in her beak, so it’s only a matter of time before we have fledgling cardinals jumping around the yard.
The greatest reward of having birds nesting in your backyard is the arrival of the fledglings in summer and witnessing the continuation of life that gives so many of us irrepressible joy.
It’s exciting to see beautiful bird families all around us. So, celebrate the continuation of life and get out and see birds.
We live in Piedmont NC and have been watching a male and female through the fall and winter. This morning, Ms C flew into our glass door and died on contact. I was so sad. We buried her in a small shoe box at the end of our property line. We have not seen Big Red since. Hence, I found your information and story. So blessed to know Big Red will be searching for another mate soon. 1/6/2023
Hi Delores. I’m so sorry for your loss. We’re glad you found our article helpful. On a positive note, your beautiful male cardinal will find another mate to populate your yard with babies cardinals. Life is good when it’s filled with lots of cardinals!
I’m so glad I found this article because our beloved little female Cardinal just passed when she hit our house . I am worried about her mate and the confusion he must feel. I can’t help but feel guilty for providing them with meals and water very close to our our deck , but I think in the long run we are helping more than hurting. Thank you for sharing your beautiful article .
Ami from New York State
Hi Ami. We’re so sorry to hear this news. It’s so sad when we lose one of our avian friends, but rest assured Mr. Cardinal will find a new mate and you will once again enjoy seeing him romance her and raise their family this summer.
I had a cardinal psir eating on my deck for weeks i sae them several tines a day
They wete feeding each other always together. I haven’t seen them in dsys now do they just leave