Good afternoon everyone-As some of you know I love watching birds and am working on turning the back and side yard at Mom's into a sanctuary for birds with many different kinds of shrubs, plants etc for them. I have a great start on it with several kinds I bought this past year. I also feed them sunflower seed, suet and a fruit/nut mixture as well as birdbells.(pic right). I also feed bluebirds dried mealworms and thistle or as I call it black gold for finches.
While I feed them year round the food is less scarce in the winter. It is also important to have fresh water for drinking and bathing. In the winter in chiller climates even here in Va the water in the birdbath water will freeze so you have to make sure they have water they can drink. I can tell you from several years of watching them and feeding them that they are very resourceful.
It has been a wonderful outlet for me here at Mom's and it is something I also did when I owned my home in N.Y. It all started in NY when a neighbor who fed birds was moving and one of the birds he fed was the cardinal. I had never fed them before as I always thought my kitty Lindsey would have them for a snack
The male cardinal is a very popular bird because of his bright red feathers but the female is quite beautiful in her own right. Both the male and females feed their babies sometimes the male actually takes on the duty by himself. He will also feed the female during the courtship. they are the first bird in the morning to eat and the last at night. Watching birds raise their young is a wonderful and rewarding experience.
With as many birds and their babies that I have watched over the years, this past summer and now again about a week or two ago I have seen two of my favorite birds the cardinal and the bluebird as babies. They were both male and I happened upon both of them. I have seen baby cardinals before but not this close up.
The first was the bluebird earlier this summer. I had come out of the house and down the front steps and had startled Momma and baby. The mother flew off but the baby didn't. He stayed at the bottom of the steps.
I grabbed a camera and took a pic. I went back to what I was doing in the front yard but far enough away I was hoping the momma would come back which she did. I was hoping the baby would fly away with her but he didn't. The mother fed him and then flew away and didn't come back. The baby tried to fly but really didn't seem to be able to and just stayed in the corner. I went and got some mealworms hoping it would eat.
I continued to check on the little one but it didn't move. I was afraid it would be easy prey for a hawk or other enemies so I tried to protect it without touching it because I was still hoping the mother would return but never saw her again.
I surrounded it with these hosta's(pic left) I had bought. and they were still in pots. It was still there when I went in for the night but some of the food seemed to have been eaten so I was pleased. Sadly in the morning he had died.
Fast forward to about a week or two ago. I went out to feed the birds and there on the ground under one of the feeders with his wings spread was a small red cardinal. He stayed there when I was filling the feeders but attempted to fly away but didn't go too far.
I figured a baby that hadn't learned to fly completely or maybe he was injured. I went in the house to get my camera as I wanted to see if I could get a picture but didn't see him at first but there he was not too far from the large maple in the yard.
I carefully walked as close as I could get to get a clear, nonblurry pic without scaring him. I managed to get a few pretty decent pics. As I stood there watching him I was again thinking he would be easy prey if he was unable to fly away.
I stood there for a moment just watching him and was going to sit on the ground to see if I could get a shot of him but before I could he moved and tumbled upside down. I quickly went over to pick him up to see if I could get him a drink but before I had the chance this perfect tiny little cardinal died in my hand. He was only about 3 inches long and when his wings weren't spread out he easily fit completely in the palm of my hand.
I was heartbroken that this beautiful little bird had died. Male cardinals aren't born with their feathers red and I did a little research and supposedly they get their red feathers in the summer which would have put this little fellow at probably six months old. Maybe he was the runt of the litter as a adult cardinal is about 7-9 inches long so he was quite small.
I love birds and this has happened now twice. I have always heard that you aren't supposed to touch baby birds because the mother will abandon them but if I find another one like this I am going to do whatever I can to save it because it was abandoned anywasy and I didn't touch either one. It hurts my heart this happened and I wonder if there was more I could have done.
This is a awesome video of the male and female cardinal feeding their babies.