What Does a Cardinal Song Sound Like?

Northern cardinals are one of the few birds with male and female singers. Learn what a cardinal song sounds like and how cardinals communicate.

Both Male and Female Cardinals Sing

275764966 1 Patrick Morse Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Patrick Morse
Male northern cardinal singing

Did you know? Both male and female cardinals sing! Northern cardinals are one of the few species whose female also sings. A pair might even share cardinal song phrases, using them to communicate at nesting time.

Experts believe the cardinal song duet strengthens their bond. Listen for pure, repetitive whistling from cardinal pairs. Females sometimes call while on the nest. Males bring food to the females as they care for baby cardinals to ensure nesting success.

Do northern cardinals mate for life?

Birds & Blooms readers enjoy hearing and seeing cardinals in the backyard.

cardinal songCourtesy Marilyn Diaz

“My father passed away recently, and his favorite bird was the northern cardinal. Now this handsome cardinal (above) visits me often, singing his lovely song, and I believe it is a hello from my father,” writes reader Marilyn Diaz.

Find out if cardinal sightings have special meaning.

Hear Cardinal Songs

Listen to the cardinal’s song in the audio clip below.

Bird songs courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn about the differences in male and female cardinal songs by watching this video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Next, check out the best bird feeders and birdseed for cardinals.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.