Do Cardinals Abandon Their Babies And Eggs?

Do Cardinals Abandon Their Babies And Eggs

Cardinals are known to be very protective of their mates, nests, eggs, and babies. Although they are lovely-looking songbirds, they become highly territorial and aggressive during their breeding season. Northern Cardinals are so caring towards their offspring that they’d fight other birds to keep them safe. Justifying their reputation as the ‘Angry Birds’, male cardinals become aggressive if anyone approaches their broods. In this article, we’ll discuss whether they ever abandon their babies or eggs. Let’s find out!

Do Cardinals Abandon Their Babies?

No, they don’t. Cardinals do not abandon their nests with babies in them. They’re rather protective of their offspring and they become very territorial throughout their breeding season. While the female cardinal may leave the babies to build a new nest, the male cardinal will continue to care for the babies and feed them until they are ready to fly and forage.

Do Cardinals Abandon Their Babies

However, there might be some exceptional situations where the parent cardinals may turn their back on the babies. In the following section, we’ll discover when and why cardinals may abandon their babies and eggs.

The Reasons Cardinals May Abandon Their Babies

Birds usually don’t abandon their babies, especially Northern Cardinals. They care and protect their offspring in any situation. But there may come a time when the cardinal has no other choice other than to leave the nest with babies still inside. However, depending on the situation, they can leave for a temporary period or permanently. Below we’ll look into some of the reasons why cardinals might abandon their babies:

  1. If the nest is under attack by large birds of prey or other predators which they won’t be able to defend then they might flee from the area. In this situation, the babies are most likely to be abandoned by their parents.
  2. If the babies are unable to fly or have any kind of disability that prevents them from leaving the nest, both male and female cardinals will abandon the babies after a few weeks.
  3. If the weather gets too rough or a storm is on the way, the parents might leave in order to protect themselves. So, the babies may get abandoned due to a weather situation.

Read: Are Cardinals Born Red? Born Red Or Turned Red!

Do Cardinals Move Their Babies?

Although cardinals do not move the fledglings from the nest, however, they do teach them how to hop around and fly. The male cardinal will teach the baby cardinals how to survive on their own and obtain food once they have left the nest. While the female builds a new nest for the season’s following brood, the male cardinal may take custody of the fledglings at this time. It would seem that the mother looks after the babies until they’re strong enough to leave the nest and then the father provides some training and care.

Do Cardinals Abandon Their Eggs?

No, they don’t abandon their eggs. They become highly territorial and protective during their breeding season. So, they’re more likely to defend their nests and eggs against any intruder. They’ll protect their eggs against predators, raptors, and even humans. If someone gets too close to a cardinal nest with eggs in it, the parent cardinals will most likely launch an attack. But they won’t abandon their eggs even if someone touches them.

cardinals egg

However, there are some rare situations when cardinals might abandon their eggs. The eggs will be abandoned if a possible predator disturbs the mother and drives her away. Furthermore, if there are too many eggs, the ones which didn’t hatch may be left behind.

How Long Do Cardinal Babies Stay In the Nest?

Cardinal babies grow up very quickly and are usually out of the nest in 9 to 11 days. This indicates that the offspring are on their own in less than 4 weeks from the time the mother cardinal lays her eggs. But the babies are usually unable to fly for the first day or two after they fledge. They’re still extremely young and can’t fly for another two weeks or so. A baby cardinal is light brown with a short brown crest; the crest distinguishes a baby cardinal from other similar young birds that do not have the crest.

How Long Do Cardinal Babies Stay With Their Parents?

Normally, it takes the babies 11 to 13 days of incubation to hatch. After hatching, baby cardinals usually spend 40 to 50 days with their parents. The parents keep feeding the babies until they are able to leave the nest and then the male cardinal takes care of them. The father teaches the babies how to fly and find food. But not all the babies learn to fly at the same time; some take longer than the others. However, once they are able to fly, they become independent and their relationship with their parents comes to an end. While the young cardinals start exploring, the parents are building a new nest.

That’s All, Folks!

Cardinals are one of the most protective birds when it comes to their babies. They become very territorial during their breeding season, so it’s unlikely for them to ever abandon their eggs or babies. Northern Cardinals don’t leave their babies behind, rather they protect them from any kind of danger. But there may be some situations when the cardinals may be forced to leave their nest, only in such exceptional cases they might abandon their chicks or eggs. So, unless they have no other choice, they’ll never turn their back on their babies.


Hyeat is the founder of Birds Indeed, a blog dedicated to all things avian. With a passion for birds and a deep understanding of their behavior, Hyeat shares their knowledge and experiences with readers. Join Hyeat on their journey to learn more about the diverse and beautiful world of birds.

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