Survival of the fittest in nature

Services for Real Estate Pros with Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance


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.


baby cardinal

baby cardinal

 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.


Posted by

Sharon Lee

Comments (21)

Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Suesan-Thank you for saying that.

Jan 23, 2013 03:41 AM
Gloria Todor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Newtown Square, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Hi Sharon, I remember posting last year about creating a bird santuray in your yard, that is wonderful! Sounds like you are off to a great start.  You are having wonderful encounters with birds already!  Great photo of that baby blue bird.  

Sorry to hear about the cardinal...I was wondering do you have a window they might be flying into?  Sometimes when startled they fly quick and wham, can do real damage to themselves. Just a thought, otherwise something might have gotten to that pretty fellow before you saw him...

I enjoy feeding the birds like you and am always sad when I see feathers around....too many cats in my area and some hawks...(hawks I don't mind so much)

Well - Have fun!

Featured in BIRDS Group!


Jan 23, 2013 04:10 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Sharon, I was SO hoping that this would have a happy ending. I have cared for MANY injured birds....some lived, others did not. I have taken a couple to the Audobon Society. Even found a baby owl back in when I first moved here who had probably run into a train is what the Audobon Society figured. They came and got it. I have pictures somewhere and JUST thought about that sweet scared little soul the other day!

I had to wipe away tears before writing. I do know that they need to be kept really warm when they are injured. Surrounding them with your hands and and or a warm towel is necessary--especially if they have hit a window and are in shock. I've done this several times since we moved onto the lake and mostly they get their wits about them and fly off!

(I get many opportunities to take photos...some close up, some not). I'm going to join the Birds Group--thanks!!

Bald eagle at Fishhawk Lake-Gayle Rihc-Boxman copyrighted All rights reserved 2013

Jan 23, 2013 05:05 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

So sorry to hear that both babies died.  It would have broken my heart to see that.  My favorite bird is the cardinal and I used to watch them regularly at my last home.  They are so beautiful, and I love that they are usually with their mate.  

Jan 23, 2013 06:15 AM
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

They are such lovely birds, how sad for the little baby that was abandoned.

Jan 23, 2013 06:43 AM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Gloria-If he hit a window I didn't hear him. He only lived a matter of a 1/2 hour after I first saw him. The bluebird apparently sometime overnite. Thank you for the feature.


Jan 23, 2013 06:52 AM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Gayle-It would have been nice to have a happy ending to this. 2 babies within 6 months has been sad. Glad you joined the birds group. If there is a next time I will do the towel thing. The cardinal lived only about 1/2 hour after I first saw him and the bluebird I am not sure. Honestly don't know about hitting a window for either of them.


Jan 23, 2013 06:57 AM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Sharon-They also mate for life and live quite a while. It is a great delight to watch them both.

Roger-Very sad indeed.


Jan 23, 2013 06:58 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Sorry about the baby Cardinal, maybe it was meant to be but you got some great photos and are learning so much about the cycle of life right there in your backyard with the plants and birds Sharon. Amazing what you are cultivating. It does take a lot of patience and preparation.

Jan 23, 2013 07:22 AM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Thank you Gary-I am learning a lot.

Jan 23, 2013 07:27 AM
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning
Hi Sharon I love your heartful story and equally sorry about your little cardinal baby bird. I think you did the right thing and perhaps you gave this darling little bird some comfort and warmth before it died. I am sure you did nothing to cause it to die but it was probably too far gone. You will someday get your blessing for taking care of all God's children.
Jan 23, 2013 07:39 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a sad story, and as Gary said, it was time to go for them...A 

Jan 23, 2013 07:40 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Sharon - I have always been envious of folks around the country, which have Cardinals living in their midst.  Your story has a sad ending for the young one!  Nature's way isn't always understood!

Jan 23, 2013 07:46 AM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Your bird sanctuary will be a magnet for bird watching. Enjoy . . . .

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jan 23, 2013 10:00 AM
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Sharon, That is quite a noble undertaking!  Some very beautiful photographs!  Stay warm!

Jan 23, 2013 10:40 AM
Sondra Meyer:
Colorado Springs, CO
See It. Experience It. Live It.

Sharon, thank you for sharing your love of birds with us. It must have been very disappointing that both babies died. At least they were able to receive your appreciation for a bit first. Based on your title, I suspect that you know that sometimes that we just have to let nature take it's course. I don't think there was anything that you could have done for either one.

Now....on the positive side, that video was incredible. I wonder how that person was able to get so many close up shots.

Cardinals and bluebirds are very pretty.

Your comments about the water made me realize that I forgot to water my trees again....

P.S. I'm looking forward to you flower photos.

Jan 23, 2013 01:48 PM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Kristin-Thank you for your kind words. I just hope I don't find anymore little ones that end up dying

Alexandra-Definitely sad. Probably nothing more I could have done but I hate seeing that happen.

Myrl-Cardinals are beautiful birds and it is hard in nature to see this happen.

Lou-I do that now but I expect more birds once the plants are producing fruit.

Thanks Tony and Darcy.

Sondra-You are most likely right that there wasn't anything I could have done but it is still hard. That video was pretty amazing. Maybe they had a birdcam. I am looking forward to seeing them too. It is winter weather now at 29 and snow tomorrow but another warm up next week in the 50's and 60's

Jan 23, 2013 10:05 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Sharon - nature and circumstances are not always good friends - your kind ways and the sanctuary you provide will provide both you and your many new friends a wonderful place.

Jan 23, 2013 10:20 PM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Michael-Very true. I know it happens but not fun to watch happen. I do enjoy both the gardening and the birds.

Jan 23, 2013 10:29 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

We have several families of cardinals, Sharon. Each spring they have a couple of broods and we watch them grow up and fly away. They eat a ton of food. You will have more but I'm sorry the little guy died. How sad nature can be at times. I agree, I think Mrs. C is a beautiful bird--those softs pinks and browns are lovely.

Jan 24, 2013 08:08 PM