Northern Cardinal
(Cardinalis cardinalis)


Picture of bird
© Tony Battiste
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Primarily a species of the eastern and southern United States, the Northern Cardinal reaches Canada mainly in Ontario's Carolinian region but has expanded to eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey show that populations have increased greatly since 1970 and continue to increase in both number and breeding range. These increases are probably the result of bird feeding and warmer winters (McLaren 2007).


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLarge IncreaseHigh

Population estimate

Canada500,000 to 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation of world population

CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

The Northern Cardinal has benefited from changes brought to the landscape since the settlement period in North America. With the conversion of forests to agriculture and suburban areas, nesting habitat has increased and bird feeding operations have ensured an adequate supply of food in areas that would otherwise have not been suitable (Halkin and Linville 1999, Erskine 1992). Winter temperatures have also warmed. Despite its obvious success, the Northern Cardinal is a frequent host of Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism; nesting success is generally low (Halkin and Linville 1999).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type