Communication and Perception
Northern cardinals primarily use vocalizations and physical displays to communicate. Male and female cardinals both sing. Their songs are loud, beautiful whistled phrases. Their songs have been described as sounding like "whoit whoit whoit " and "whacheer whacheer." These songs are used to defend territories and to court mates. Male and female cardinals use "chips" as contact calls and alarms. They also have many visual displays to signal alarm. These include "tail-flicks" and raising and lowering the crest.