Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cardinals: Red Birds in the Winter

Cardinals tend to flock in the winter, and this week they've been in our yard. Devin pointed out this tree full of them and I was able to get some pictures.

Cardinals mate for life. I don't know if they stay together all year, but they do come back together each Spring to raise their annual family. There were females in this flock. The little ladies don't show up in this photo, but the beautiful red birds have decorated this tree themselves.

Mema saved a baby cardinal that fell from its nest before it had feathers. This would have been back in about 1952 - now we know that it would be ok to put it back in the nest, and if unable, we'd need to take it to a licensed wild bird rehab person. But at that time, it was not illegal for her to rescue the baby bird, brush the ants off of him, and raise him to adulthood.

Junior loved Mema. He thought she was his mother, I suppose. If she talked to him he would sing for her (and cardinals have the most beautiful song - you can listen to it if you click here then click the "Listen" icon on the eNature page). Nandy made a large cage for him, and they often let him out in the house to fly around. Because he didn't eat bugs, his coloring was more subdued than the wild birds.

Junior lived to be 16 years old. He passed away peacefully and naturally while I was still in elementary school. It's unfortunate that he didn't live wild, but he still had a very good life, warm and well fed, and we all loved him.

Cardinals are delightful wild birds. They LOVE the water sprinkler on hot days and will come bathe and play in the falling spray. They like to nest in hedges, and will come back to the same yard as a nesting pair if you keep a good habitat for them.

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