Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are our favorite backyard birds. They are often referred to as “redbirds” thanks to the male’s vibrant red feathers. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll focus on the male. However, I think the females with their subtle coloring are just as beautiful and I’ll focus on them another time.
We frequently see these birds in the backyard, and in winter at dusk we often have ten or more feeding on sunflower and safflower seeds. During the day, they often come to the shelf feeder just outside our dining room window. If the light is favorable and I’m lucky, I can capture details that are otherwise difficult to see, such as the large orange beak and black face mask.
Cardinals do not migrate and we enjoy them year-round. Seeing and hearing them is especially welcome during the winter months. You can hear their “what-cheer-cheer-cheer” and “pretty-pretty-pretty” calls at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wikipedia websites.
Cardinals are the state bird for seven states, including Kentucky, and the mascot for numerous athletic teams and schools, so evidently many other people like them as well. I’m almost sure this one is saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!”