Where Do Cardinals Sleep at Night?

Where Do Cardinals Sleep at Night?

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The sleeping habits of cardinals change depending on weather and preference, but most tend to sleep 1-15 feet off the ground in trees, dense shrubs, birdhouses or empty tree cavities. 

The most important thing for any sleeping bird is appropriate coverage and protection.

Unlike other songbirds, cardinals sleepless and thus it may be rare to even see a sleeping cardinal.

As for when and where they do sleep, let’s get a deeper look into that!

What Is Roosting?

In order to talk about sleeping with cardinals, we also need to look at roosting.

Roosting is a period of inactivity similar to sleeping–much like a cat nap!

Red cardinal bird

During this period they will open their eyes at different intervals.

These intervals are dependent on the time and place of roosting.

If a male cardinal is protecting his partner or nest, he will open his eyes more frequently. 

What Do Cardinals Look for in a Sleeping Spot?

Several factors go into picking the perfect place to sleep for these songbirds.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Safety
  • Line of Sight
  • Lack of Disturbances
  • Quick Reactions


This is top priority for a cardinal. Before moving forward with setting up a nest or sleeping area, a cardinal must feel protected.

This is generally achieved by thick branches, tree cavities, high trees, or open birdhouses.

Ensuring that they are covered on all sides will ensure a sound sleep for a cardinal.

Line of Sight

Another important aspect is being able to see around them.

How Do the Seasons Change Where Cardinals Sleep?
Cardinal winter

They want to be protected but also to be able to see when danger has entered their line of sight.

Having a clear vantage point will help them to look out for different dangers.

Lack of Disturbances

Just as we don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night, a cardinal will look for a quiet place to sleep.

If they can ensure that they have a sound sleep, they will be more alert the following day, just like humans.

Quick Reactions

Similar to having a decent line of sight, cardinals will also want to ensure they have a quick exit.

When settling down to sleep, a cardinal will pick a place that keeps them safe on all sides but doesn’t trap them.

Will Cardinals Sleep in a Birdhouse?

Yes, but cardinals don’t tend to sleep in your usual birdhouse.

cardinal sleeping spot
Cardinals bird

Taking all of their safety plans into consideration, cardinals like open and flat birdhouses that allow them to come and go from multiple different angles. 

Do Cardinals Sleep in the Same Place Every Night?

Generally cardinals will, in fact, sleep in the same place every night.

The only reason to change their sleeping spot is if they find it is no longer safe.

Commonly cardinals will sleep in the same place when they are mating, caring for their young, and aren’t prone to attacks from predators. 

When Do Cardinals Go to Sleep?

Like many other songbirds, cardinals will go to bed with the setting of the sun.

However, cardinals do not need as much sleep as many other songbirds, which is why they will be awake well before the rise of the sun. 

How Do the Seasons Change Where Cardinals Sleep?

The breeding season and weather conditions such as the harsh winter months will have an affect on where cardinals choose to sleep.

Breeding Season

Cardinals are territorial normally, and during the breeding seasons they will become extremely defensive.

Cardinal eating seeds outside
Cardinal eating

They will defend their nests and will prefer to only sleep there during this time.

Once the breeding season ends, they tend to move to a new nest or territory. 

Weather Conditions 

When up against the weather, cardinals will rest wherever is most convenient at the time.

To take shelter from either snow or rain, cardinals will go to:

  • the nearest unoccupied birdhouse
  • tree cavities
  • chimneys
  • or sheltered roofs

How Can You Help Cardinals Have a Safe Place to Sleep?

If you’re willing to help these beautiful songbirds feel safe, there are a few things you can do to help them.

Let Cardinals Nest in Your Yard

If you plant tall trees, and dense shrubbery, cardinals will find this foliage to be safe and come to nest there.

Shrubbery and berry bushes in particular will draw cardinals in as they provide both coverage and a food source with the berries.

Install a Cardinal-Friendly Birdhouse

As discussed earlier, cardinals are very particular about the type of birdhouse they like.

Cardinal sleeping habits

If you install one in your yard, more cardinals will be drawn to that birdhouse in particular and find it a safe place to rest.

Place a Cardinal-Friendly Feeder in Your Yard

Cardinals tend to love certain types of seeds but it isn’t uncommon for them to eat insects as well.

Fill your feeder with seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts, cracked corn, and safflower.

Do Not Use a Lot of Lights

If your yard has a lot of article light it will disturb the cardinal’s natural routine, as they plan their day around the natural rise and fall of the sun.

If there are a lot of lights outside your home, turn them off as the sun goes down to help cardinals stay on schedule.

In the End

Cardinals will sleep just about anywhere so long as it meets their safety criteria.

They are territorial birds and will defend their nests, but they are also prey animals.

Keeping themselves and their young safe take top priority.

You can help make a cardinal feel comfortable by changing your own yard to include things these songbirds love.

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