Saturday, May 20, 2006

Elusive Cardinal

About three weeks ago, I spotted a Northern Cardinal in a mesquite tree in the back yard. I managed one quick shot through the branches. I was hoping they would come to one of the feeders, but I haven't seen one in the patio yet. Since they're not migratory, maybe they will stick around and be tempted later in the year.

The name comes from the Latin word cardinalis, which means "important." The male cardinal fiercely defends its breeding territory from other males. When a male sees its reflection in glass surfaces, it frequently will spend hours fighting the imaginary intruder. Interestingly, male cardinals in Arizona have larger, more prominent crests than other male cardinals nationwide.

Last week, I managed to photograph another one. He wouldn't come out in the open. But even glimpses of him are beautiful.

I've heard Northern Cardinals every evening for the past couple of weeks. They have a beautiful song. The territorial call which I've been hearing sounds like "whata-cheer-cheer-cheer." One comes flying through our backyard at dusk, landing on the chainlink fence just long enough to tease me, I think. It's always too dark for a photo and I don't want to use flash.


Jimmy said...

Beautiful photos...I have N.Cardinals everyday at my feeders

Mary said...

Such striking looking birds.

kerrdelune said...

Lovely photos - I love these brilliant red birds, and their clear song in early morning is absolutely gorgeous. They are nesting here, and it will not be long until Cardinal mother brings her children to the bird feeder around sunrise.

Endment said...

A cardinal is singing outside my window just now... I hope you are enjoying the challenge and will soon get some lovely photos!

robin andrea said...

Wonderful splash of red there! We don't have Cardinals here so it is particularly lovely to see photos of them on blogs. We also have elusive birds that are hard to photograph, or show up just once for a quick bath in the pond. Last week I looked out the window to see what we think was either a female Bullocks Oriole or a female Western Tanager. It was beautiful and gone in an instant!

Chancy said...

We have Cardinals in Atlanta also. Beautiful birds.

Pam in Tucson said...

jimmy - oooh, you're so lucky!

mary - They are striking, aren't they? We had them back east when I was a child; somehow they seem more brilliant here - perhaps it's the blazing Arizona sun.

kerrdelune - I saw your cardinal photo - it's super! I hope you'll be showing us the mother and babies - I've never seen fledgling cardinals.

endment - I'm content to listen to the singing and see that beautiful bird fly through on its evening path. Enjoy yours!

ra - Yep - that's what it is, a beautiful red splash; but I'm happy to have one in the neighbourhood. I hope I'll see a female soon. I'd love to have seen the female oriole?/tanager? you spotted in your garden. It's so much fun to share each others' birds.

chancy - I remember them from MD, DC and CT when I was a child. Nothing like them in England, though. Enjoy them - I don't think there's a purer red.