Where Do Cardinals Sleep At Night?

cardinals sleeping habits

With some luck, you may have been able to spy a cardinal while it is sleeping; however, this is a relatively uncommon occurrence. This has to do with where the cardinals choose to sleep and the fact that they do not require extended periods of rest, which is why you are likely sometimes to hear them during the early hours of the morning.

A cardinal will look for three particular aspects when choosing its nesting place. These include protection from predators, sufficient cover, and ease of access in case they need to fly away at a moment’s notice. Common locations are high trees, suitable birdhouses, and tree cavities.

We must also note that other factors may play a role in the sleeping behavior of cardinals. These include the season, the locale, and what the weather is like.

Cardinals are not too picky about their resting spots, but they are careful when choosing where to turn in for the night, so let’s see what else we can learn.

How Cardinals Choose A Place To Sleep?

cardinal habitats

We have noted various factors that distinguish where a cardinal will settle for the night, but these are the main reasons: safety, a good vantage point, peaceful sleep, and ease of access.

Safe Places For Cardinals To Sleep

Safety is a top priority for most creatures, and this is no different for cardinals. The places that offer the best safe spots include high trees, covered branches, dense shrubs or foliage, an open birdhouse, and tree cavities.

The main predators that a cardinal will avoid are cats, snakes, and predatory birds.

It is improbable to find a cardinal sleeping near the ground, which puts them in a compromised position.

Instead, cardinals will try to stay out of reach, and somewhere that bad weather cannot affect them. If they do not feel safe, they will be unlikely to fall asleep.

Good Vantage Points For Cardinals

This follows along after safety; to stay safe, they will want to be in a position with a clear view of their surroundings. This is to ensure that they have a clear picture of any potential dangers.

Suppose a cardinal does not have a good view. In that case, they risk being caught by a predator and ultimately killed.

So cardinals are unlikely to allow themselves to sit in a vulnerable position with a poor line of sight. 

Peaceful Sleeping Spots For Cardinals

No creature likes to be woken up in the middle of the night by strange or unexpected sounds. This is also true for this little bird and why they prefer to pick quiet and peaceful places to sleep.

Like most creatures, songbirds value a good night’s rest, and noises and bustling will be a deterrent.

So if you are hoping to have cardinals resting in the trees near your house or your birdhouse, then be sure that you do not cause loud and unexpected noises at night. 

Places Which Allow Ease Of Access For Cardinals

This one will likely come along with having a good vantage point. This is because if a cardinal encounters a threat, they need to evade their stalker quickly. And this is difficult it there is limited access in and out of where they are.

So this means that they will look for a perch where they will be able to flee in multiple directions, should the need arise.

It is a tricky task; they need somewhere that is somewhat concealed and offers sufficient shelter and an easy way to escape.

Have you ever wondered how long do cardinals live?

Do Cardinals Sleep In The Same Place Each Night?

It is pretty popular for cardinals to sleep in the same spot each night, particularly if it fits all the proper criteria listed above. However, some cardinals will opt to alternate between different places each night.

If a cardinal has experienced disruptions in its sleep or has had an encounter with a predator, they are more likely to move around until they find somewhere that they are more comfortable.

Also, during mating season and while looking after their broads, cardinals are far more likely to sleep in the same place each night.

Will A Cardinal Sleep In A BirdHouse?

If you have a hankering to encourage cardinals to sleep in your birdhouse, you need to make sure that it is cardinal friendly.

This means that the house must be flat and “open plan” as cardinals do not like enclosed birdhouses. This stems back to their need to have good vantage points and ease of access.

Do Male And Female Cardinals Sleep Together?

If you see male and female cardinals sleeping together, you can be sure that it is breeding season. They will remain close to one another during this time, and the birds are far more territorial.

Once the mating season ends, though, they will likely part ways and find themselves their own places to nest.

Do Cardinals Sleep With Their Young?

If you spot a nest with a female cardinal and it is just after the breeding season, then it is highly likely that there are babies in that nest with her.

She will sleep with these hatchlings while they still require her for warmth to keep them alive, especially at night.

Once they begin to grow though and reach the stage of being fledglings, she usually does not sleep with them anymore and merely goes out in search of food and returns to feed them.

How To Identify Cardinals Among Other Birds?

Cardinals, or as they are also known as northern cardinals, are mid-sized songbirds.

It has a distinguishing crest on its head, and on their faces, they have what appears to be a mask.

The mask is black for the vibrant red males, and for the reddish olive-colored females, it is gray.

You can check out post “Robin vs Cardinal” to identify cardinals.

Where To Find Cardinals?

Cardinals can be found throughout the eastern United States, southeastern Canada, and through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. The species are also spotted in a few other locations, including Hawaii and Bermuda.

You will find cardinals in gardens, shrublands, wetlands, and woodlands. If you hear a male cardinal singing, he is likely staking his territory.

But do they mate for life? Not sure! (Check out post “Do Cardinals Mate for Life?)


If you are avid about watching birds and would like to spy a cardinal sleeping in a tree, you will be happy to know they go to their nests at sunset.

However, if you happen to hear them in the early hours of the morning, don’t be surprised as they do not require much sleep. As long as they feel safe and warm and out of reach of predators, they are happy.

Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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