Cardinals perform various activities as courtship rituals before and during the breeding season. For instance, they sing and dance to attract mates. However, some birders believe that cardinals can kiss each other during the mating period. What do you think? Do cardinals kiss?
No, they don’t kiss. If cardinals don’t kiss, then why do people talk about witnessing cardinals kissing, right? Well, it’s basically an act of feeding. A male cardinal feeds seeds to his potential mate with his beak, which looks like these two birds are kissing.
So, why does the male bird carry out such an activity? If you want the answer, we recommend reading this blog post thoroughly. Let’s begin.
Related blog about cardinals behavior:
Why Do Cardinals Kiss?
As you know, cardinals kiss each other during the mating season. It’s basically a way for the male cardinal to display courtship behavior to convince his mate that he is ready to take responsibility and can feed and protect his would-be family.
This act of feeding doesn’t correlate to affection; it determines that the male cardinal is unimpeachable, reliable, and can take responsibility. By performing this act, the male bird will tell her mate to save all her energy to focus on reproduction.
FYI, female cardinals lose a significant amount of energy during reproduction. Hence, she needs a capable mate who can bring her food, take care of the family and, more importantly, protect the chicks.
Thus, the male cardinal approaches the female with seeds and begins feeding her to tell her that she can rely on him and he can feed her and their offspring when they hatch. This is how a poor single male cardinal flirts with his mate.
What Is Courtship Feeding?
At first glance, the courtship feeding looks like a kiss, but in reality, it’s just an act of feeding, and a way for the male cardinal to show off his dominance and look for a mate that he can keep for a prolonged period.
The courtship feeding or cardinal’s kiss doesn’t refer to love, affection, or care as kissing is for us humans. Instead, this act tells the female cardinal how reliable and capable the male cardinal can be.
While performing this act, a male cardinal will carry seeds or other bird food inside his beak and present food to the female. Later, he transfers the food from his mouth to his mate, which looks like both birdies are kissing each other.
When Does Cardinal Kissing Occur?
Cardinal kissing activity or courtship feeding occurs right before the breeding season begins. As you know, the mating season starts in March; cardinal kissing will happen before then.
However, the timeline of cardinal kissing isn’t always the same, and it can vary from cardinal to cardinal. FYI, some cardinals start the courtship ritual in late May and July, which means their breeding season begins later than usual.
What Other Activities Are Involved In Courtship Ritual Than Kissing?
Male cardinals need to face a lot of competition while attracting their mates. Hence, every male cardinal tries his best to lure the mate and convince her to copulate. And while doing so, he offers food to the female bird, which is one of several ways of the courtship ritual.
Alongside offering food, male cardinals sing melodic songs to attract females. A male cardinal also turns and twists his body while singing. In short, he sings and dances simultaneously to lure his mate.
While the male bird is dancing and singing, the female cardinal looks at his plumage. The female bird gets attracted if she finds out that the male bird has vibrant red-colored plumage. Female cardinals consider male cardinals with bright red feathers strong, protective, and ideal mates.
Misapprehension About the Cardinal’s Kiss:
Below, we have shared some common misinterpretations concerning cardinal kissing. So, let’s read them.
Many believe that a cardinal’s kiss is the renewal of the loyalty vow between male and female cardinals. Every year the male cardinal carries out this courtship ritual to please his mate and give assurance regarding food and safety.
When birders watch a male cardinal feeding the same female cardinal for several years, they misinterpret this behavior as a loyalty vow. But in reality, a cardinal’s kiss is kind of a job in the reproduction process; it’s not a loyalty vow.
Expression Of Love:
Another common mistake many bird watchers make while watching cardinals kissing each other is that they assume this is how they express love.
Since cardinals’ kissing takes place in springtime and very close to Valentine’s Day, people have always associated cardinals’ behavior with love.
But the cardinal’s primary purpose for kissing is to convince their female mates that those females can rely on their males for food and security. Hence, we can conclude that the human perception of love surrounding the kissing behavior doesn’t apply to cardinals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Male And Female Cardinals Kiss?
Many people assume a cardinal’s kiss is a romantic notion, but it’s just an act of courtship feeding. Male and female cardinals kiss each other before the breeding season. By kissing, the male tells his mate that he can feed and protect her.
What Does It Mean When You See Two Cardinals Kiss?
When you spot two cardinals kissing each other, you must understand that the male cardinal is actually feeding his mates to prove himself as an optimal mate to her.
Cardinals exhibit various courtship behaviors before and in the middle of breeding seasons. The male cardinals feed their females and sing and dance to attract their mates. In short, before the start of the mating season, both male and female cardinals engage in courtship rituals, and it starts with kissing.
Although from our point of view, it looks like a kiss, the truth is you already know. So, next time someone tells you about spotting two cardinals kissing each other, you can tell them the fact and share this article with them via Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. That’s all for this content.