Last Sunday my wife Michelle asked whether the
cardinals should start singing soon.
They usually do start in February.
I replied that I hadn’t heard any cardinals yet, probably because of the
recent chilly weather I hadn’t spent too much time outdoors. I got up early the very next morning. I had gone out to shovel the three inches of
snow that fell during the night when, right on cue, a cardinal’s clear song
broke the silence. He didn’t even wait
for the sun as the east was just pinking.
I am partial to cardinals. Their color, their crested heads, their song
– everything about them seems unique and intriguing. Surely the scarlet of the males catches the
eye, especially against the white of winter, but the females, though more
subdued, actually have more complex coloring – at least to my eye. It’s interesting isn’t it, that in nature
it’s the unique that catches our interest, but in people the unique tends to
put us on guard.
When we first built our house in 1991, we didn’t have
any trees in the yard. You could still
see old corn stalk stubble amongst the wildflowers and waist high grasses when
we purchased the property. So, for the
first ten years or so any cardinal sighting was usually down the road along the
woods. Now that we and our neighbors all
have some good-sized trees in our yards, cardinal sightings are much more
frequent. I hope that means that the
population of cardinals is increasing; I think the world is better with more
cardinals in it.
Besides the standout coloring, cardinals are perfect
birds for fledgling birders as they are so easy to spot. If you hear one singing just look at the very
top of the tree where you heard the song.
You’ll find him there perched on his throne, the taller the tree the
Cardinals are frequent guests at our birdfeeders. In fact, we have a resident pair that is here
every day. I hear that geese and swans
and cranes are thought to be unique in the bird world because they supposedly
mate for life. If that is true, it
certainly isn’t because of their size.
Turkeys are bigger and they certainly don’t form any lasting bond. Except for the mating season (April – May in
our neck of the woods) males travel with males and the females raise the young
on their own, or with the assistance of one or two other hens. The bird books don’t mention the possibility
of song birds mating for longer periods.
But the pair that comes here every day is always together. When one shows up at the feeder you only have
to wait a few seconds for the other to show.
We have other cardinals that come to feed as well but almost always as
singles; it is just these two that seem to be “together”. Maybe it’s just sentimental, but I like to
think of them that way.
His Peace <><