Adult northern cardinals are eaten by Felis silvestris, Canis familiaris, Accipiter cooperii, Lanius ludovicianus, Lanius excubitor, Sciurus carolinensis, Asio otus and Otus asio. Nestlings and eggs are eaten by snakes, birds and small mammals. Predators of eggs and nestlings include Lampropeltis doliata, Coluber constrictor, Elaphe obsoleta, Cyanocitta cristata, Sciurus niger, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus and Tamias striatus. Molothrus ater also take cardinal eggs from the nest and sometimes eat them.
When a predator comes near a cardinal nest, both male and female northern cardinals give an alarm call that is a short, chipping note. They also fly toward the predator to try to scare it away. Northern cardinals do not mob predators like other songbirds do. Females incubate the eggs and their brown coloration camouflages them while they sit on the nest so that predators cannot find them in the brush. An incubating bright red male can easily be spotted by predators who are searching for a nest.
- Domestic cats (Felis_silvestris)
- Domestic dogs (Canis_lupus_familiaris)
- Cooper's hawks (Accipiter_cooperii)
- Loggerhead shrikes (Lanius_ludovicianus)
- Northern shrikes (Lanius_excubitor)
- Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus_carolinensis)
- Long-eared owls (Asio_otus)
- Eastern screech owls (Otus_asio)
- Milk snakes (Lampropeltis_doliata)
- Black racers (Coluber_constrictor)
- Pilot black snakes (Elaphe_obsoleta)
- Blue jays (Cyanocitta_cristata)
- Fox squirrels (Sciurus_niger)
- Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus)
- Eastern chipmunks (Tamias_striatus)
- Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus_ater)
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