Discover Your Nature

Spotting Kentucky’s State Bird

Whether it’s hot or cold, spring or fall, Kentucky’s state bird is always around. The Northern Cardinal can be found in just about the whole Eastern half of the United States, but Kentucky and six other states are fortunate enough to have it as our state bird. The cardinal is absolutely gorgeous and does not migrate. Both females and males sing. The male cardinals are bright red in color while the females are more dull in color. Males also are very territorial and sometimes even attack their own reflection. If you are just beginning to birdwatch or feed birds, the cardinal is a great bird to try to attract. In fact it is seen at 98% of feeders in the area.

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Photo by: Tim Griffith

How can I bring cardinals to my own yard?

1.) Put black oil sunflower seed and safflower seed in your feeders to attract cardinals. It’s their favorite!

2.) Use large hoppers, large tube feeders, and trays to hold seed. Cardinals also are ground feeders so if some falls out no worries.

3.) Cardinals prefer to feed in the early morning and late evening. Make sure your cardinals have food available at their favorite times and this is optimal time for you to watch.

4.) Cardinals also enjoy eating white millet, fruit, nuts, and suet from feeders.

5.) Leave undergrowth around your yards and cardinals may even nest there. They build cup nests in branches of trees,vines, shrubs, etc. Some common plants that they build nests in include dogwood, honeysuckle, red cedar, spruce, pines, rose bushes, blackberry brambles, elms, and sugar maples.

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Photo from: Wild Birds Unlimited(Evansville,IN)

Where can I find Northern Cardinals in Henderson?

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Photo by: Heather Lee

Northern Cardinals tend to hang out in dense forests, fields, and shrubs. When singing they choose obvious places such as tops of trees and high perches. There is a plethora of parks and outdoor attractions where you may spot a cardinal.

John James Audubon State Park

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Over 8 miles of trails wind through the nature preserve including 10 different trails with opportunities to see cardinals, and other amazing wildlife.

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Sloughs Wildlife Management Area


If you’d rather spy birds from your canoe or kayak, these wetlands are your perfect paradise. Because of it’s dense vegetation, cardinals thrive. The Sloughs also has observation platforms that give ideal vantage points to view the wildlife.


Sandy Lee Watkins Park

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Photo by: Sarah Vittur

Along the 3 stocked fishing lakes, grows shrubs and tons of low vegetation that would make suitable nesting areas for cardinals. Sandy Watkins park is still developing, but there are walking and biking trails available to the public. It also is a hidden treasure for picnics if you’d rather birdwatch while sitting still.


Canoe Creek Trail


This developing trail is currently 4.2 miles and is growing. It has new signage throughout the trail describing plants and animals that live among the trail.  It is pet-friendly and also permits mountain biking. Although walking is probably the best way to spot a cardinal.


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Photo by: Chuck Summers

The best times to go hiking or searching for cardinals is during dawn and dusk. Cardinals are most active during this time. Also listen to their bird call before heading out so you can use your ears in addition to your eyes to locate the stunning state bird.

To learn more about Henderson’s outdoor attractions click here.

We would like to thank Wild Birds Unlimited in Evansville, IN for the resources and information provided to help make this blog possible.