Thursday, June 9, 2016

Northern Cardinals

The much loved Northern Cardinal singing in the treetops is a familiar sight for many North Americans.

Bright red from crest-to-tail with a contrasting face mask, the Northern Cardinal sings a pleasant tune all day long.

Often these songs start before morning's light and sometimes are even heard after sunset.

It's possible some people may find these territorial proclamations tiring, but they are quite memorable and melodic.

The musical arrangements are typically delivered to fend off rivals and/or to impress a female, who, by natural selection is a more secretive and aloof bird.

Normally secured in the brushy understory of tangles and shadows, this female Northern Cardinal resembles the male in size and shape, while wearing a more understated coat.

To catch her eye the male is likely to do what's known as posturing.

He angles his tail to project an image he wants a female to notice.

This posing is thought to enhance his desirability as a mate.

I've seen the male feed a female seed after seed, while both stood ankle deep in seeds...still she eagerly accepted each single offering. He is willing to repeat this gifting for as long as she responds. To this end, the female gets to choose her partner and the pair seems satisfied with the choice made.

It's a special treat to have a Northern Cardinal singing in your tree all year long, as
they are unlikely to migrate far, if at all, in winter.

A few cardinal-friendly berry bushes in your garden and a handful of sunflower seed is all you need to entice this attractive bird to pose for you, too.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds