Native Spotlight: Northern Cardinal

    Native Spotlight: Northern Cardinal

    Native Spotlight: Northern Cardinal

    The first baby cardinal I saw was in my neighbor’s yard.

    Before that moment I had thought that the cardinal was always an adult bird. The same way I thought that my teacher just stayed at school and was shocked to see her in the grocery store.

    It was on the ground in my neighbor’s woods. There was a hawk in the trees and the parents were very angry. The mother and father were hazing the hawk, diving at it in hopes to drive the hawk away.

    I helped by clapping my hands. The hawk was gone.

    It was great for the baby, but the father had suffered some damage. One wing was missing quite a few feathers. He was hoping more than flying.

    Another problem arose once the hawk flew away. It was ME!  They began to dive bomb me, and I ran out of the woods. That was the first and only time I have seen a baby cardinal.

    The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is so distinctive anyone can name him. No other bird sports such a bright red color with a crest. In fact, if you were just to call him ‘Red Bird,’ anyone would know which bird you were referring to. Even the female is beautiful, her brown color offset with warm red. And, since they don’t change feather color in the winter, they are equally beautiful at the feeder as the weather turns cold.

    Cardinals like to stay low to the ground to forage, but prefer high perches for singing. They eat mostly seeds and fruits, but also enjoy insects in the summer. They feed nestlings almost exclusively insects including: beetles, katydids, leafhoppers, cicadas, flies, spiders and butterflies.

    In summer they forage in mated pairs but in winter they may form flocks. One not in flocks may follow other bird species. They can forage with Dark-eyed Juncos, Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Goldfinch and their cousins the Pyrrhuloxia. Continue reading

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