Northern Cardinal Calls & Songs (w/ 4 audio clips!)

You probably recognize their beautiful appearance, but can you recognize a Northern Cardinal’s song and sounds?

northern cardinal calls and song

Below you’ll learn the TWO most common calls that cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) make!

Sound #1: The song

Both male and female cardinals sing in spring and early summer, with males singing more frequently throughout the year. Both sexes produce 2 to 3-second songs comprised of a string of two-part whistles that often speed up, ending in a slow trill.

Phonetically, the song may sound like “cheer, cheer, cheer” or “birdie, birdie, birdie.” Male and female pairs may perform these songs in duets, especially during courtship and territory formation.

As seen below, males are commonly seen singing from a high perch at the tops of trees!

Lastly, the songs of a Northern Cardinal vary depending on the individual bird and location. For example, listen to the clip below, which sounds quite different than the audio clips above.

Sound #2: The “chip” call

If you listen closely, the most likely sound you will hear from a Northern Cardinal is a loud, metallic “chip.” Both sexes often use this call to help locate their mate. The sound is also used when carrying food to the nest, when females are approaching the nest, encouraging nestlings to leave the nest, to ward off intruders, and when predators are near.

Many times, the “chip” call is heard before the cardinal is able to be seen. Northern Cardinals favor brushy habitats and are often buried inside of a thicket while making this sound.

Have you heard the calls and sounds of a Northern Cardinal before?

If so, please let us know below!

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