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Bird Watching Stories
(Go Back to Wild Bird Page Contents)
»  Aransas in the Fog:
Whooping Cranes
» No Barbeque this Summer 
» Barn Swallow "Mama"  
» Just How Does a Bird Eat Bees?  
» My Birdwatching Adventures in Costa Rica
» The Ever-Popular Chickadee 
 » Just Another Golden Eagle  
  » Four Birds in One Tree: 
A Few Days of Birdwatching in England
» Four Calling Birds??? 
 » Narcissism or Territorial
Defense: Macho Cardinal
» A Very Unique Cardinal 
» The Last Companion Carolina Paroquet 
» Convergent Evolution: Meadowlark and Longclaw 
» Barrel Cactus Confrontation 
» Galahs Playing Around and Around and Around ...  
» Mesmerizing a Goldfinch 
» The Best Mimic?  
» Prairie Chickens and Woodcocks:
Missouri Ornithology
» Mob Mentality: Who is Really in Control of the Skies?
» The Owl Who Sat Down Beside Me 
» Meeting Hot Shot: The Toddler Peregrine Falcon  
» Seeing 'Sea Parrots'
in Alaska
» A Rare and Unusual Bird 
Meeting Roger Tory Peterson
» Raven Showoffs 
» Reddish Egrets a nd Canopy Feeding 
 »  Robins and Worms 
Hear, See, Smell, or Feel?
» What Are You Doing Here? Scissortail Flycatcher
» Hospital Halucinations 
» Wild Bird "Attacks": Just Misunderstandings? 
» Drunken Waxwings and an Unusual Hummingbird Feeder
 » Acorn Woodpecker Defending its Stash
» Why Woodpeckers Don't Get Headaches: Built in Shock Absorber 

(Cardinal sculpture by Sally Blanchard)
by Sally Blanchard

I really miss cardinals and their cheery song. When I visit another part of the country to give a parrot program, one of my requirements is that if cardinals live there, I get to see one They occur rarely on the plains of eastern Colorado but it would be pretty rare to see one where I live. I actually fell in love with cardinals when I lived in Tucson. They always came to my bird feeders. 

Many people from the eastern United States don't realize that cardinals are also a desert bird. They live throughout most of the eastern and mid-western United States and then the range dips down where they are seen in Mexico but only in small sections of western Texas and southern New Mexico. Then the range comes up again and they are found in a great deal of southern Arizona. Seeing a cardinal among the Saguaro cacti is not unusual there.

When I lived in Wichita, cardinals nested in my yard for several years. I really enjoyed watching the babies once they fledged. I also did everything I could to protect them from the neighborhood cats. I don't think a lot of cat owners realize how dangerous outdoor cats are to wild bird populations, especially to the babies.

The male cardinal in the pair in my yard was incredibly territorial. This is normal for them especially during courtship and when the pair had babies. I had a covered patio outside of my sliding glass door. The light was such that in the afternoon, the glass door reflected anything on the patio. I had an outdoor aviary for my parrots and fed them seed as a small part of their diet. Since there was almost always some discarded seed on the patio, the cardinal would sneak in to grab some of it. When the light was just right, the cardinal saw another cardinal on the patio. He would spring to action and fly at it and peck it to get it to go away. Of course, since it was actually his reflection, the invading cardinal didn't go away until he went away. He created quite a commotion and I could hear him defending his territory from that "other bird" with great gusto. If my parrots were in their outside aviary, it didn't take long for them to join in with the racket. That usually stopped the cardinal from his macho performance and he would fly away. This could happen several times if the light caused him to see his reflection in my patio door.
He also spent some time trying to make the "other cardinal"  in my car side view mirror go away. My neighbor's yard was also in his territory so he was a busy guy trying to make sure that no other male cardinals showed up to challenge him for his territory.  

I think that wildlife artist Charley Harper captured this beautifully in his serigraph, "Seeing Red."


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