Friday, December 5, 2014

(southwest) Northern Cardinal / Pyrrhuloxia

A bright red bird on a winter's day is a good omen for your soul.

Finely fashioned in red and black, the southwest Northern Cardinal looks surprisingly similar to the Northern Cardinal familiar to the eastern half of the United States. 

But, the southwest Northern Cardinal is larger, has a bushier crest and has a less-black face.

That's a trivial distinction when you see one sitting in a tree, but it's noteworthy for those who take more than a casual interest in birds.

They are a stately bird with a slightly stern appearance.

male Pyrrhuloxia

In the same family as the Northern Cardinal is the Pyrrhuloxia. He's similar in size and shape, but far less flamboyant. In shades of gray and red the male Pyrrhuloxia is impressive and shares a similar stately appearance. 

The Pyrrhuloxia lives at the far southern reaches of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and most of old Mexico, too.

They thrive in hot and harsh arid lands.

female or juvenile Pyrrhuloxia

Startled at the camera's click this female Pyrrhuloxia stretches tall and thin to investigate the source of the sound. 

Always wary...
the cost of inattentiveness is life itself...all birds respond quickly to threatening sounds.

If this female Pyrrhuloxia looks a bit concerned...she is. She is incubating eggs in a paleverde tree. Not wanting to disturb her, I went about getting my pictures quickly, so she could get back to her motherly duties. The female Pyrrhuloxia is not nearly as colorful as the male. Her colors reflect her surrounds. It is quite likely she placed those blossoms around her nest as a means of camouflaging her yellow bill.

southwest Northern Cardinal

The amount of joy you experience at the sight of a bird varies from person to person. You can't assign a number to it. 

Still be grateful for the number of birds we have in our lives, as many species are declining. 

They could raise your spirits on a cold winter's day.


Credits: Sibley's Guide to Birds

Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds