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Thursday, 7 November 2019

Northern Cardinal (Cardinal rouge)

     I have never kept track of those birds which are in greatest demand for visiting birders I have helped, but Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is high on the list. It is a stunning bird, possessed of a beautiful loud song which carries far, it is not reluctant to approach humans and is present all year.
     Let us first deal with the male.



     Imagine that you had never seen one. How could you not be bowled over by this jaunty pirate with his black mask? Based on daily encounters with cardinals I feel confident in saying that you never become indifferent to "His Holiness" no matter how often you see him.
     Puffed out against the bitter chill of wintry blasts, feet tucked under its feathers, it looks comfortable; fully at home in its environment, tough enough to handle whatever conditions nature delivers.



      To look into a woodlot and see a burst of crimson is always a thrill. It never gets old, believe me.



     Cardinals are principally seed eaters, as their powerful bill denotes, but they are not averse to eating caterpillars and arthropods, and they especially seek such prey when they have young in the nest; hungry mouths anxious for protein to stimulate healthy growth. This unfortunate victim was battered into submission along our fence rail a couple of summers ago.



     Short months later the same bird perhaps, was on the ground beneath the feeders searching for sunflower seeds in the snow.



     Shakespeare immortalized the words of Richard III who offered his kingdom for a horse. Perhaps that is only because he had never seen a cardinal!



     There are only a couple of spots we know of where Northern Cardinals routinely congregate to feed with other species in the winter, Riverside Park in Cambridge, being one of them. In the picture below, to the left and behind the cardinal you can see an American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea).



     And now let us turn to the female of the species.



     Not as vivid as the male, but equally attractive in a muted way, with a subtle blending of beiges and browns, with hints of grey, all assembled in a way that only nature can achieve, indisputably a Northern Cardinal at first glance.



     They grace our garden in equal measure as the males.




  
     On all our local walks we are likely to see cardinals. Here on the Benjamin Park Trail right behind our house......


   
     ...... and along the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs.




     At Riverside Park a female perches in a tree......



     ......but wastes no time in dropping down to enjoy the smorgasbord laid out by friendly humans, in the company of other species, as mentioned above.  Here the female is feeding alongside an American Tree Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). 



     In fact, the assemblage of birds at this location is often nothing short of remarkable. 



     In the picture above are Northern Cardinals, male and female, American Tree Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis). They are often joined by Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens), Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis), Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and others. Most of the time there seems to be little squabbling, and perhaps the demands of winter survival stimulate the birds to concentrate on the important task of securing food. 
     It is always encouraging to see humans involved with nature in this way, and I have little doubt that many people, old and young alike, get their first close encounter with wild birds along the boardwalk at Riverside Park.
     And the Northern Cardinal may be the biggest draw of them all. 

85 comments:

  1. Hola David, no me cansaré nunca de admirar tan preciosa ave, son espectaculares. Enhorabuena por la suerte de poder disfrutar de ellos y por vuestras espectaculares fotos. Un fuerte abrazo.

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  2. You quoted from Shakespeare, very true. Then I found this:

    ‘A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you.’

    A beautiful thought, as perfect as the bird.

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    1. A beautiful thought indeed - and I never knew that.

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  3. Are a few idiots who also want to breed this super beautiful bird in the Netherlands! But here is not cold at all and these birds love the harsh winter days!
    Your photos an information are very good! Thanks!

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  4. The cardinals are indeed very handsome birds, and I wish we had them over here, too. But we have to be content with the lovely birds we have. Thanks for the wonderful photos and information. Valerie

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    1. Every part of the world should be content with native species, Valerie. So often we have introduced alien species to the detriment of native bird life, and to other forms of flora and fauna too.

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  5. Beautiful photos of the beautiful birds David. I hope they will fly to the Netherlands.

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  6. Well I love seeing these Cardinals. Here in Kentucky they are pretty special. Thanks for linking up today.

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  7. C'est un très bel oiseau, j'aime autant le mâle que la femelle. J'en avais vu lors d'un voyage à New York.
    C'est super de pouvoir en voir tous les jours!
    Bonne soirée

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  8. Are these new photos this year?
    There are no cardinals in Europe. And these birds are phenomenal. I know the male is spectacular, but I like the female more. And the couple really looks pretty, especially on snow.

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    1. The ones from Riverside Park are from this year. All are from our archives, taken by Miriam or me. There is a cardinal on one of the feeders right now!

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  9. Hari Om
    I certainly was bowled over at my first sighting of these incredible garden visitors! They, and the blue jays and the grosbeaks became firmle entrenched my heart and mind from my visit stateside! Thank you for bringing us a range of gorgeouts photos to drool over!!! YAM xx

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  10. Great photos of a beautiful bird. So very pretty to see.

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  11. As always beautiful photos, David. The Cardinal is very pretty. I have never seen one myself, but I guess I would be amazed of it.

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  12. They are truly beautiful birds. I can well understand that they make people's hearts sing.
    Birds the world over are an endless source of wonder and joy to me. And to you I know.

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  13. Hi David,
    I would cross again the Atlantic Ocean only to see Northern Cardinal. So you save me a flight with your picture and comment about this wonderful bird. Thank you, and have a good day.

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  14. Wow, stunning photos! I never tire of seeing these birds. I put birdseed in my bird feeder during the winter, to help the local pairs who live near my house. I haven't seen them lately, so I hope they didn't move on. Here in Connecticut we're going to have some very cold days over the next week, with the possibility of snow next Tuesday, which is early for us.

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    1. We got our first snow today - it's that time of year again.

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  15. Realmente amigo David tanto el macho como la hembra son extraordinariamente bellos, aunque me inclino por la belleza del macho. Tienen un potente pico. Una de las hembras posada en un comedero está anillada igual fue anillada por ti y tu equipo.
    Gracias por recrearte y mostrarnos la belleza del Cardenal
    Un fuerte abrazo querido profesor, amigo y compadre David.

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  16. If we held an election for the favorite backyard bird of America, I think the Northern Cardinal would win. Both male and female are beautiful, but I admit to a soft spot for the female with her lovely muted colors. The song of the cardinal is certainly one of the favorites in my backyard.

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  17. ...a wonderful sight anytime, but they are such an addition to the landscape in winter!

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  18. Hello David, these are awesome birds and photos. The Cardinals are beautiful birds. The American Tree Sparrow is a favorite, only because I do not see it often here. Sorry, I am late visiting your post. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your critters. I hope you have a happy day and weekend ahead.

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  19. I have never seen a cardinal so puffed out like this little guy. They seem to be more slender down this way with the milder air. Isn't it wonderful seeing various species getting along? Some humans can learn from their example. We love watching the cardinal couples together and seeing how they interact.

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  20. love the Cardinals!! Great photos.

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  21. Cardinals are a rare sight on PEI. I’d love to see them.

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  22. Wonderful photos, but then cardinals are so photogenic! We never get tired of the mobs of them that hang about at our feeders, summer and winter. Our favorites are the young ones being fed by their parents.

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  23. When I had a house, just a few years ago, I fed the birds. There was a huge oak in the front yard, and I had half a dozen feeders hanging from accessible branches. In fact, cardinals were the reason I fed year round, though my summer offerings were very different from winter. A pair of cardinals had a nest in a pine tree in the little woods across the road. Mother and father rotated sequentially in my feeders in late winter and spring, and I watched carefully until I saw the tree they returned to. Another pair of cardinals came from the little woods behind the house, and I never looked for their nest.

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    1. You describe an idyllic setting. And kudos to you for not trying to find the second nest and letting the parents go about the job of raising their young.

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  24. What an amazing red that male Cardinal is. A flash of that colour in the winter garden would brighten up anyone's day.

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  25. Such a beautiful bird, do love the colour and it stands out so well.

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  26. What an amazing colour for a bird. I have finally got you back on my blog list after deleting it in error.

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  27. En vacker fågel som med sin lysande och avvikande färg väcker uppmärksamhet, speciellt under vintern när naturen blir grå och vit. Jag kan inte låta bli att undra över varför en fågel begåvats med denna avvikande färg, den borde bli ett lätt byte för rovfåglar men jag kanske har fel.
    Noterar att du använder det svenska ordet smörgåsbord som blivit ett internationellt ord med lite annan stavning men helt korrekt använt, trevligt.

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    1. Hi Gunilla: It is a Swedish word that has become a regular part of the english language, understood by all. Bravo Sweden!

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  28. Hi David.

    Both men and women are really beautiful.
    So beautiful in color.

    Greeting from Patricia.

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  29. Prachtig wat 'n kleuren hebben deze vogels, Hele mooie serie met fraaie foto's.
    Groet Kees.

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  30. Incredibly pretty!
    What a pity it does not live in my corner of the world...

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  31. Beautiful birds, especially red bird, looks like angry birds ;)

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  32. This bird I have never met in life and probably will never meet but I always enjoy looking at its photos.
    A beautiful and interesting bird!!!

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  33. Gorgeous! He has such a beautiful color. Wonder!

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  34. Fantastic Cardinal, both male and female, photos at the best.

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  35. Wow!1Such a beautiful bird!Looks like a parrot in first sight!
    Glad to see it at your place..
    Glad to see you bird feeding place as well :))

    Have a good birding weekend !
    Much light and love from Norway!

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  36. Hello, David

    The Cardinals are lovely! I especially love the last photo with the mixture of birds, wonderful photos. Thank you for the invite, for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend! PS, thank you for the visit and comment.

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  37. Beautiful photos!
    Cardinals are the most visible of our backyard birds. I never tire of watching them!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  38. Tanto el macho como la hembra son preciosos. Tenéis mucha suerte de ver tantos pájaros maravillosos. En unos día empiezo a enseñarte aves de Extremadura, Cáceres. Un abrazo.

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  39. Lovely photos of a very beautiful bird! I love the last photo for the assemblage of species present but also the size comparison. (We don't get cardinals over here at all.)

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  40. They really are wonderful to see out in the wild. They are a burst of bright color in the forest and always have a distinctive sound that you can identify too. I love this post! It's nice to remember how we felt when we first started noticing birds around us. Enjoy your weekend!

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  41. Wow! Cardinals are my favorite birds.

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  42. Hi David,
    What a beauty, a bird I would love to see and get an image from, he's certainly dressed up in all his finery, the female is also a beautiful bird.
    All the best,
    John

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  43. These are wonderful pics of these wonderful birds which we are so lucky to have sharing our environment! Your last pic is amazing, David!

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  44. hello David
    again perfect pictures ... sharpness, background the motive is great together with the color of the male, great, but also the female is a beauty, a successful and beautiful post that you like to look at
    Greetings Frank

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  45. Cardinals are one of MY favorites too. I actually think the female is prettier with its shimmering silver "gown" and scarlet jewels. Your photos along with your commentary this week is awesome. Stopping by I'd Rather B Birdin this week and sharing your link is appreciated...thanks!

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  46. Extraordinary of the beautiful red bird!

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  47. Whenever I watch this bird on blogs, I am delighted with it. It is beautiful and has a fantastic color. I've never met him. David, your photos are always perfect.
    Have a nice and lucky week:)
    Lucja

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  48. Your photos remind me that I used to see Northern Cardinals when I was growing up on the east coast. Ever since I moved west almost 50 years ago, I haven't seen once since. Such beauties they are.

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  49. Stunning photos of these beautiful birds! I wish they lived in Finland too.

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  50. Fantásticas fotografías y un reportaje bello de ver, este Cardenal es muy atractivo en su colorido rojo y aunque la hembra es algo más discreta también es un ave muy bonita.
    Es un placer conocer estas especies.
    Muchos besos.

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  51. Another super post, David, and your allusion to Richard III brought a grin to my face. Thank you!

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    1. Obviously had I been referring to you it would have been Richard I!

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  52. Se distingue muy bien el macho de la hembra. El macho tiene un hermoso color y la hembra, tiene igualmente un color bastante atractivo.

    Me gutaría oír el canto del macho.

    Besos

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  53. What a lovely post this is :)
    All such stunning photographs of these beautiful birds.

    All the best Jan

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  54. Thank you for sharing this beautiful collection of photos. Love to hear the birds when I am taking a walk in nature. With the colder months upon us we need to be reminded not to forget to feed them as well.

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    1. My hearing is not as good as it once was, but I can still hear the loud, clear musical whistle of the cardinal.

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  55. A jaunty pirate in a black mask. Brilliant writing, David, and a perfect description. Truly one of my very favorite birds because what is not to love? So beautiful and I'm told they mate for life. Hats off to both you and Miriam for the splendid photos.

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  56. This is a wonderful tribute to a simply beautiful bird!

    We are fortunate to have them breed in our yard each year. The courtship ritual of the male offering a sunflower seed to a female, the nest building, young birds with fluttering wings begging for food, adults teaching the offspring to gather their own food, the agony of molting, the glory of brilliant new plumage - this is what "birding" is all about.

    Thank you, David, for bringing us such pleasure. Our day just evolved from ordinary.

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  57. Cracking pictures David. Did you mention that Cardinals have an immensely strong grip in those mandibles? I certainly remember that. Almost as good as a Grosbeak.

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    1. Either Heather or Kevin, I can't remember which of the two, got nailed by a cardinal in the fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger and it drew blood.

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  58. I might have already mentioned that the only cardinals I saw growing up were on Christmas cards (where they look beautiful against the snow)..... we don’t have these in the Pacific Northwest. My Kentucky-born mom often got a little teary-eyed looking at these and would tell us about how, growing up, she’d see the real thing every day around her home..... so when Bill and I traveled and we saw our first ones for real I was ecstatic (and a little sad for my mom). We see them oftener now in Florida but each sighting is still extra special and nostalgic for me (and brings memories both bird-related and not). Thanks for this lovely post.

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    1. A lovely account, Sallie. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  59. In the winter the red plumage brightens everything up. - Margy

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  60. David - we don't have Cardinals in Montana, and it is the one bird that I deeply miss from my life in the Midwest. So I thank you for these gorgeous photos. And I am so pleased to have you link to Mosaic Monday!

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  61. Hi David,
    What a pity that this cardinal never shows up in the Netherlands. What a beauty, male ánd female. I can imagine that many people are eager to see this bird once. Enjoy of this bird, especially when snow has fallen. The contrast in colour will be overwhelming.
    Greetings, Kees

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  62. I remember seeing a Cardinal on a trip to Florida years ago, such a stunning bird, though the distant photo I managed doesn't do it as much justice as the photos you have here :)

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    1. Well, you just have to come to southern Ontario, Pam and I will help you to get lots of terrific shots!

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  63. ah oui que de beaux oiseaux et de belles couleurs ! des clichés magnifiques ! j'aime +++ a+

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  64. Hi David,
    This is so called a bird with a RED chest! And the rest off course. And the male complete bright red. The female is also beautiful, though! This bird, I have never seen in my life! Miriam made excellent beautiful pictures. My compliments. Best wishes Maria

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  65. Probably the most representative species in Canada. Whether they are all blue or all red, your birds are beautiful.
    Bisous David

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  66. hhhhhhhhh ................ 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖
    This is such a cool bird and you have beautifully photographed it!
    I would really like that second photo as a Christmas card. I am really gasping now because these cardinals are unfortunately not found in the Netherlands. Every time I see cardinals (often with you) I get jealous and that is now also the case whahahahaha .......
    My commplimetnen for these pictures of the beautiful man and woman cardinal!

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