Saturday, March 05, 2011

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)



"The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off. Even the brown females sport a sharp crest and warm red accents. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they’re still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning." (Quote from Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds.)




During winter Cardinals tend to aggregate in loose flocks. Seeing several males sitting together provides a welcome contrast to an otherwise drab winter scene. In late spring and summer, cardinals form pair bonds and a male will vigorously defend his territory against incursion by any other male. It is not unusual to see a male fighting with his own reflection in a car's outside mirrors.




Cardinals seem determined to stretch their day out for as long as possible. The Cornell site notes "... their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning." During the summer, I often work out in our garden until very late in the afternoon. Many times I'm finishing a project or gathering up my tools as the sun sets. As I wrap up my gardening chores, there's often a male Cardinal perched in a nearby tree singing.


Please see the Cornell Labs site for species details about range, behavior, nesting, etc.


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11 comments:

texwisgirl said...

Probably very true about them bringing more folks into 'birddom' than any other species. They are the ultimate "Christmas card" bird. I personally think the ladies are more gorgeous than the males. :)

Mike B. @ slugyard.com said...

I wish we had them here. Alas, I must live vicariously through posts such as yours!

Christine said...

Beautiful photos, Marvin. I love cardinals though we don't have them here in the west. I saw my first one about 5 years ago when we traveled to Minneapolis.

Pat - Arkansas said...

The flash of brilliant red always catches my eye. I love to see the males perched on a bare tree limb after a snowfall -- a perfect Christmas card scene.

I love to see the golden/red females, too. They are often the first birds back at the feeder after a 'scare' that sends all the birds fleeing.

EG Wow said...

Nice photos. The cardinals in my yard never let me get close enough to get photos as nice as these!

chubskulit said...

Beautiful captures!

My Critter post, have a lovely weekend!

Rebecca said...

I do love the bright color the males give to the gray winter. I didn't realize they only flock together in the winter. Great info..

Gary said...

Great photos. Strange they don't come this far north. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon Canada.

Anne McCormack said...

Texwisgirl is absolutely right! When a person appreciates the female cardinal as well as the male, they're either a birder or about to become one! I had a chance to go birding with a woman from South Korea, and she was stunned by the cardinal. I wrote more about it at Happy Holidays!

Marie said...

So pretty! I have always loved Cardinals partly because they were my Grandmother's favorite bird and every time I see one I think of her :-)

Marie
bonkersinbarnhart.com

Kay said...

A beautiful bird! I have been browsing through your blog and really enjoy it.