Yesterday I did a post about pelicans for my friend Gary Woltal. I told Sheldon Neal, another friend of mine if he had a favorite image I would do my next post on it. I was delighted when he chose my favorite bird as well as his, the cardinal. The cardinal is the bird that started my fascination and love of songbirds. In the backyard of my home in NY I had many feeders and many different kind of birds but by far my fav was the cardinal.
The male cardinal is a beautiful bird, much more brilliant in color than the female but the reason that the female birds are less colorful than the males is so they blend in better and they will not be spotted as easily by predators. I used to have a hawk that used to hang out in the woods in the back lot behind my house and sit there and watch.
The only ones he ever got to my knowledge were mourning doves. I wouldn't have been very happy if he got one of my cardinals. One year I had 8 families of them. I used to watch them eat, bathe and feed their young. It was rather interesting to watch them in the springtime versus the other times.
During the mating season. The male will feed the female seeds and whenever she flys, he will follow her. He also will help feed the babies as well as the female. The funny part is during the rest of the year he wasn't very nice to the female. The male cardinal doesn't start out with his brilliant red feathers. He starts out looking a lot like the female.
They are among North America's most popular songbirds and are monogamous birds. Male cardinals are known by their brilliant red feathers and majestic crested heads. Female cardinals, while also beautiful, sport a more subtle dull reddish color but they have a really pretty orange beak that the male doesn't have.
They are very eager to dine at most any available bird feeder. They will visit your feeder starting early in the morning. They are most normally the first birds at the feeder in the morning and the last ones at night. Since cardinals dine early in the morning and late in the evening, they have plenty of time for entertaining you by singing all day long while the other birds are taking their turns at your bird feeder.
I have watched them so much I can tell you if there is a cardinal at the feeder or in the area just by their song. I can hear them and know it is him even before I see him. He has several different songs. One sounds like he is saying "danger". Cardinals absolutely love to sing. The female cardinals will start singing in a warm, sweet voice. The males then follow up by belting out the same sweet melody. If the females change to a different tune, their mates will also change to the new melody. Male and female cardinals often serenade each other, alternately singing the same tune one after the other.
They prefer bird feeders that are about 5-6 feet above the ground. They prefer a steady stationary feeder over a hanging bird feeder. Sunflower seeds are a favorite food. They will usually sift through the entire mixture of seeds to get to every sunflower seed before starting in on the other seeds. They also enjoy white proso millet and safflower seeds when they can't get sunflower seeds. They have 2-4 sets of eggs or broods per year. Each brood consists of 3-4 light green or blue eggs with specks of purple or brown. Babies stay in the nest only for about 10 days. Both parents feed the babies but sometimes the male will do it singlehandly while the female incubates another brood.
Fresh water is a bird magnet! Bathing & drinking is essential to birds & they will flock to a well-maintained water source. Nature's bird bath is a puddle, so the best baths imitate puddles. The bath should be round with a flat bottom & gently sloping sides, & should be no deeper than three inches.
The bottom surface of the bath should not be so smooth that the birds cannot get a secure footing. If necessary, add gravel to the bottom of the bath to make better footing. Flat rocks can be added to the water to provide a shallow area of footing. Consider a heated bird bath or a bird bath heater for the winter season to keep the water at 55° Fahrenheit. It is so much fun to watch the birds not only drink the water but also to take a bath. If you have never witnessed it then you are missing a real treat.
My fascination was so great I went to great lengths to make them happy, even going out in a blizzard and wading thru knee high snow to clean the snow off the feeders so they could get to the food.
When it was snowing so hard and so cold I felt really sorry for them and wished I could have brought them in doors.
I also collect bird figurines and of course the cardinal is a prized piece(pic R).
I also have a bird clock and a cardinal figurine(pic above L) with its wings spread with pics of cardinals inside that. Last but not least there is the bird puzzles. The cardinal puzzle(pic R) was my first puzzle I did and have done a lot of them since then. My walls are covered with different bird puzzles. I had a friend tell me I was obsessed. Can't imagine why she said that I only have about 40 of them. LOL
Hey we all need a hobby and why not something that brings me so much pleasure. Since I have been in Va I had only done 1 puzzle, well recently I changed that and spent some time with one of my fav hobbies. I hope you have enjoyed this post everybody. I hope you learned something you didn't know about cardinals and also found out that I am a little bird crazy. Well Sheldon and everyone I hope you like this cardinal post as much as I enjoyed doing it. I miss not having a place where I can feed them and watch them. I even had my own nickname for all the birds and the cardinals are dubbed RED and Mrs Red.
Here is a video of them feeding their babies.