All About Cardinals

Cardinals form flocks in winter in order to find and share food. The seeds, berries, and insects that Cardinals eat actually cause the red color, called pigment, in the male Cardinal’s feathers. If Cardinals eat fewer berries, containing carotenoids, their red feathers will not be as bright.

Both male and female Cardinals sing which is unusual for songbirds. The female Cardinal sings to tell her mate to bring food. Click to listen to the Cardinal’s call.

Read Flap Your Wings by P.D. Eastman or listen to the story being read on YouTube.

Beak to Nest Game

Our food travels from farm to table but birds’ food goes from their beaks to their baby birds called nestlings. Birds’ beaks come in many shapes and sizes and their design depends on what they eat. Hummingbirds’ straw-like beaks are made for sipping nectar while the chisel-like beak of a woodpecker is designed to find and eat insects in trees. The Cardinals’ cone-shaped beaks are designed to crack and eat seeds. Sunflower seeds are their favorite! Play the beak to nest relay game with your flock!

Materials Needed:

  • Masking tape
  • Two medium-size bowls
  • Different sizes and types of kitchen tongs (for salad, for grilling, for the stove)
    10 to 15 small objects such as markers, toys, cards and medium objects such as blocks, socks, and a ping pong ball


After collecting your materials, set up a relay space with the bowls on one side of the room and spread out the objects on the floor. Use masking tape to set up two spots for team participants to stand. Set a timer or play a song while participants collect objects one a time, bring to their team’s bowl, and return to collect more. At the end of the relay count objects in each bowl to see which team has the most objects. Discuss which objects were the most difficult to collect and why.

For older students:

Try a table-top version of Beak to Nest by using two plates, a tweezer, toothpick, plier, small tongs, and smaller objects like sunflower seeds, marshmallow, and dry beans or popcorn kernels. Using a timer see how many objects can be moved from one plate to the other with different tools during a set time.

cardinal coloring book image

Topic: Nature, Birds: Backyard Birds
Age / Level: 1, Primary

All About Cardinals Videos