About 90% of northern cardinals' diet consists of weed seeds, grains, insects, fruits, and sunflower seeds. They prefer seeds that are easily husked, but are less selective during winter when food is scarce. According to one observer, a cardinal was seen feeding on a dead black-capped chickadee on a cold snowy day. Northern cardinals also eat some insects and feed their young almost exclusively insects. (Halkin and Linville, 1999; Searles, 1989)
Animal Foods: Carrion; Insects
Plant Foods: Seeds, grains, and nuts; Fruit
- Searles, R. 1989. Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Passenger Pigeon, 51: 236.