A Rare Treat: A Cardinal’s Nest At Eye Level

Right outside my front door is a Judd Viburnum that has been home to many robin’s nests throughout the years

Judd Viburnum

This year, we saw some busy birds flying in and out, so of course I had to investigate.  I assumed it was a robin as before, but a quick peak at the eggs and nest materials, it was clearly not a robin.

cardinal eggs

cardinal eggs

cardinal nest

So what were they?  House sparrow?  Maybe, eggs look similar, but not in a typical location.  Cardinal?  Never saw a cardinal nest before but definitely fits.
Location–dense shrubs
Height–4-6 ft from the ground
Material–thin twigs, stems, bark, vines,  dead leaves, rags, paper, and other fine material (no mud like in a robin’s nest)
Eggs–glossy white or pale green and have gray, brown, or reddish speckling throughout, which is usually more dense along the larger end.

Looks like I have a cardinal nesting nearby!

Within four days of seeing the eggs, the babies had hatched.  They were very noisy and hungry, and I saw momma cardinal coming and going very frequently with food no doubt.

cardinal hatchlings

I checked back three days later and their eyes were open and they were still very noisy.  Not sure how many there were.  I could see three for sure, but hard to tell if there was a couple more hidden in there somewhere.

cardinal hatchlings

Another three days and they were growing nicely and starting to be a lot more interactive with their mother’s calls.  In this shot, the babies had been chirping, the mom saw me from a nearby tree and gave a sharp chirp.  Everyone huddled down and got really quiet.

cardinal hatchlings

The next day, when I went to peak at them  there were none left in the nest and this one little guy in a bush nearby trying to stay dry in a rain shower.

cardinal fledgling

Mom and Dad weren’t far away in the maple tree keeping an eye on them.  By that evening, they were all gone.

female cardinal

I could still hear the babies chirping in the yard for a few more days as the parents kept an eye on them until they’re ready to be completely on their own.

4 responses to “A Rare Treat: A Cardinal’s Nest At Eye Level

  1. Stephi, that’s fun you got to follow the cardinal family. Nice pictures. I like the size of your Judd Viburnum. Is that the natural size or do you have to keep it pruned a lot?

    • We do prune the judd viburnum each year. It’s about a 20 yr old shrub, so at this point we just give it a little haircut and take off the new growth after its done flowering. I think it’s one of the easier viburnums to prune. It also has one of the best smelling flowers around.

  2. Very cool! I had a cardinals nest in some Trumpet Vine at eye level one year. There were eggs but then everybody disappeared. I hope nothing bad happened.

    • How odd they all disappeared. It is pretty quick from egg to fledgling, but you would have seen something. Nests always strike me as very vulnerable.

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