Northern cardinals are known for their beautiful plumage and sweet songs. Have you ever observed a female cardinal incubating her eggs in the nest? The eggs take 11 to 13 days to hatch once the mother cardinal starts incubating them.
Now, the question is, do cardinals abandon their babies? The short answer is no. Cardinals don’t abandon their babies because they’re very protective of their broods during the breeding season. Even though the mother cardinal starts making another nest, the father still feeds the babies for several weeks until they leave the nest.
In this article, we’re going to talk about a few more related queries you might now be wondering about. Once you finish reading here, we would suggest you take a look at “what eats cardinals“.
Related Blog: Are Cardinals Born Red? Read here
Why Cardinals Might Abandon Their Babies
No parents abandon their babies, and neither do cardinals. However, there might be some reasons why cardinals need to leave their babies behind. Abandonment could be either permanent or temporary. If it’s temporary, the cardinals will come back.
- Baby cardinals are being attacked by predators, and the parents won’t be able to protect their broods.
- Young cardinals may have any physical defect that prevents them from flying or feeding themselves properly.
- Parent cardinals need to leave the area due to stormy weather. Therefore, they cannot feed their offspring any longer.
Do Cardinals Abandon Their Eggs?
Cardinals don’t abandon their eggs rather are very protective of them. They don’t allow predators, like cats, dogs, squirrels, birds of prey, raptors, and even humans. If you try to get too close to a cardinal nest during the breeding season, both parents will attack you.
However, some reasons are out there why cardinals might abandon their eggs. If any potential predator disturbs the mother and forces her to leave the area, then the eggs will be abandoned. Sometimes, there might be too many eggs in the nest, and one of them doesn’t hatch.
Will Cardinals Abandon Their Eggs If You Touch Them?
Cardinals don’t abandon their eggs even if you touch them during the absence of the parents. What happens if you touch the eggs in front of them? At first, cardinals won’t allow you to touch the eggs. Both of the parents might attack you.
Secondly, they don’t abandon the eggs even if you’re able to touch the eggs in front of them. If something like this happens, the mother will be more likely to stay in the area because she knows someone is watching over the babies.
“If you see a female cardinal incubating her eggs, please stay back at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from it. Don’t make loud noises near the nest. Cardinals can be frightened and leave the area before hatching.”
How Long Do Baby Cardinals Stay with Their Parents?
Baby cardinals typically stay with their parents for 25 to 56 days after hatching. As you know, baby cardinals take 11 to 13 days to be hatched. The parents feed the babies until they fledge at around 10 weeks old.
All the babies aren’t capable of flying away at the same time. The parents teach the babies how to fly. Once the chicks learn how to fly, their relationship with their parents is over. Both father and mother are busy building the next nest.
What Should You Do If You Find An Abandoned Baby Cardinal?
If you find an abandoned fledgling cardinal, leave it alone. The parents might be nearby. If the bird is in danger, you can place it in a nearby tree, bush, or shrub. If possible, bring the baby cardinal back to its nest.
A guy found an abandoned baby cardinal on the ground in his backyard. Here is the threat he posted on birdforum.com around 15 years ago.
If you find an abandoned nestling cardinal, bring it to a vet or a bird rehabilitator as soon as possible. If you don’t find any rehabilitator, call your local vet. Hopefully, he/she can tell you a list of rehabbers in your area. Keep in mind that keeping baby cardinals without permission is illegal.
Cardinals don’t leave their babies behind, and neither do they carelessly let them fall from the nest. If cardinals are forced to leave the nest behind, then the babies or eggs will be abandoned. Call a professional rehab if you find an abandoned baby cardinal.
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