Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Backyard Birds - Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal in the patio
Male Northern Cardinal in the patio

A pair of cardinals have flown into our patio every morning and evening for the past four weeks. They love this particular seed block. They fly up onto the block and fill their beaks with seed; then they fly into the little palm bush and hide while they eat. In the spring I used to hear the "cheer, cheer" of the male as it established its territory. Although some reference sources say that the cardinals will sing all year, I haven't heard that particular sound lately.
"The [Northern] cardinal [Cardinalis cardinalis], probably the most recognized and popular bird in North America, is a year-round resident in the taller and denser desert brush of southern and central Arizona. It is named for the male cardinal’s resemblance to a Catholic cardinal’s crimson robe and peaked hat. The male is bright red with a black patch around its bill, while the female is a soft brown with red highlights. All cardinals have reddish-orange bills and crests. The cardinal is a seed eater and is expanding its range in Arizona. The cardinal, along with several other songbirds, picks up ants and rubs them through its feathers, probably because of the chemical secretions produced by the ants. These chemicals may act as insecticides, fungicides or miticides to control bird pests. The male cardinal is strongly territorial and will not only attack other males of its own species, but also its own image reflected on automobile hubcaps and windows. Renowned as a songster, the cardinal is one of the few bird species that sings all year and has at least 28 different songs."


Peacechick Mary said...

My all time favorite! We have a pair who hang out here year 'round. They used to fly into the house until I put up a special screening on the porch door to prevent that. I was afraid they would get hurt. I watched the female yesterday - she was eating the boginvalia leaves. That's new. I didn't know about the ants. Thanks.

Sonia said...

Wow, this cardinal is just gorgeous!

Liza Lee Miller said...

Wow - and it's quite a beak to fill with seed! Lovely Cardinals.

robin andrea said...

So beautiful, pam. We never see them here, so it's truly a delight to gaze at this magnificent pair.

jimmy said...

Beautiful....I have a pair that feeds everyday up till beautiful in the snow.

chiefbiscuit said...

Pam I just love to visit your blog and find out all about the birds that visit your feeder - such dear wee things. Your words help bring them into my backyard in a sense ... Thank you so much.
I must try and do a 'bird blog' some day soon. I seem to have got involved in reading and writing lately, plus busy with other family stuff etc etc. and forgotten to write about them
For example, just tonight I saw a kereru (wood pigeon) on a telephone wire on our street.

Pam in Tucson said...

pc mary - Awesome that your cardinals are so fearless. Is your bougainvillea still in bloom? Interesting that the cardinal eats the leaves.

Thanks, sonia and liza lee. I'm happy you enjoyed our cardinals.

ra - I thought Cardinals were everywhere. I'm surprised you don't get them.

jimmy - I love photos of cardinals in the snow - the perfect winter photo. Our snow is too far away - 16 miles away in the mountains and 5000 feet up, but I'm happy to have the cardinals here.

chiefbiscuit - Is the grass always greener? One of my dreams is to visit NZ and Australia and to see your incredible scenery and your wonderful birds. I'd love it if you did a bird blog, especially now that pohangapete's on the road and not photographing NZ birds. I looked up kereru - a most handsome bird. Hope you get some photos.

TDharma said...

what a beautiful pair! That red is intense - what would you call it?

Thanks for stopping by and your good wishes!

Kerri said...

The cardinals are such beautiful birds. You've captured that female perfectly. We don't see them often here, but once in a while a pair will come over from the hedgerow across the road. They do look wonderful against the snow.
Thanks for sharing those great pictures! I hope one spring day to see a male feeding a female :)

Pam in Tucson said...

tara - Great to hear from you. I'm glad you're blogging again. Not sure what that colour is -- scarlet?? - as in cardinal's robes?

kerri - I'll look out for some photos of cardinals from you. Perhaps when you get that male feeding the female. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Where do you buy the seed block for the cardinals. I live near the university and there's a male cardinal in back of me in the shrubs. Thanks,

Pam said...

Barb - Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you come back and read this. You didn't leave contact info. I buy my seed block at Wild Birds Unlimited on 6548 E Tanque Verde, between Wilmot and Kolb. There's another Wild Birds Unlimited up on the nw side. Closer to you is the Wild Birds Store, 3526 E Grant. Since you're close to the university, you might check the Audubon nature Shop at 300 E University (University Blvd & 5th Ave). Cheers! Pam