It's time for today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

It's time for today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

It's time for today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

I recently got an email from a regular #BenInNature reader asking where all the northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) had gone. While I'm not sure where her specific cardinals ran off to, they're definitely out there somewhere! In fact, cardinals can be found year-round in the eastern 2/3s of the U.S., and their range extends through much of Mexico.

Male northern cardinals are one of the easiest Virginia birds to identify; nothing else in the Commonwealth looks anything like them. The females are a light yellowish-brown color but largely resemble the males otherwise.

Up to 90 percent of a cardinal's diet consists of seeds, grains, and fruit, although they will also eat insects. Cardinals are pretty easy to draw to your birdfeeder; they'll eat a wide variety of seeds, but they're particularly fond of safflower seed.

The northern cardinal also holds the distinction of being the state bird for the most states! Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio all consider the northern cardinal their state bird. "Cardinal" or some variation is also the name of three movies, three bands, a TV show, three towns, and no less than 17 sports teams. Clearly, the cardinal's greatest talent is marketing!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

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