Cardinal Pair

"A male cardinal."

Today I saw a pair of northern cardinals hopping around the ground & in the trees & bushes. They follow each other around all the time; wherever one goes, the other’s right behind it. The female came very close to me, maybe 4 ft. away. Cardinals are bold birds & are quite territorial. Northern cardinals often exhibit what is referred to as mate-feeding. The male picks up a seed, hops over to the female, and the two momentarily touch beaks as the female takes the food. Mate-feeding continues throughout the egg-laying and incubation season. Northern cardinal pairs will typically remain together for the entire year, although in winter, they may separate. Pairs are usually monogamous & often stay mated until one dies; then the surviving bird will begin searching for another mate. Cardinals live for about 3 years in the wild, which is on the long side: most yardbirds live just over a year in the wild. Northern cardinals are easy to identify, the male is brilliant red with a crest & a black mask, & the female is pinkish-buff with red highlights & a bright red bill. She also has a crest. Their calls are easy to recognize. One of the most common is a loud, piercing, ascending whistle.

For those of you who love birds & are always looking for ways to attract more birds to your yard & neighborhood, try a ‘bird table’. It’s a simple wooden platform on a post in your yard, preferably with a roof (for snow & rain). You can find decent instructions on Google on how to make them. (Of course, you can always buy one.) Not only will they attract birds that wouldn’t come to a regular feeder, but you can put a variety of food on them for other birds that don’t eat your birdseed, & if you build it right, it won’t end up being a squirrel feeder. (Like everything else I’ve tried.) I will try to put one up in my yard, & if I succeed, (which, sadly, is rather unlikely) I will take a picture & post it on this site. Another thing to remember is WATER. Birds need lots of it.  

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