This morning as I was glancing out the window and realizing that my main bird feeder is empty and that I need to get to the feed mill to buy more seed, a dazzling male Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis was picking through the wilted garden plants to secure whatever errant seeds may be found among them. It struck me, not for the first time I must admit, that we are very fortunate to have such a stunningly beautiful bird present here all year.
It survives our harsh winters and is one of the first songsters to proclaim the arrival of spring when the males sing constantly from high perches. This species first moved north of the Mexican border in the early twentieth century and since then has colonized much of the continent.
I have no doubt that it is a backyard favourite with anyone fortunate enough to have them close by.
Although the male is the stunner, the female is imbued with a charm all her own. The subtle hues of her plumage are perfectly integrated into a study of grace and delicacy.
Who can fail to be captivated by this species? Not many it seems, for many sports teams here have adopted the name Cardinal. No matter how well they perform, however, they will never rival the excellence of the bird from which they derived their name.