Fishing Hole Nature: Cardinals Rule!
What better bird to see than a bright red bird in wintertime? The crest on the top of his head and his bold red feathers define the name – Cardinal! The Northern Cardinal is a songbird here in the US, and so popular that it is the State Bird for seven different states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia!
We can enjoy these bold scarlet birds up close all year around because they do not migrate far, often just across the road. Regardless, they are still federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. They are territorial and if you have a pair nearby, you can encourage them to stay close by filling your feeder with sunflower and safflower seed. Plan to scatter a batch of seed on the ground too because they are also ground feeders that hop through the leaf litter looking for food.
Cardinals get their red feathers through the things they eat. Although mostly grain and seed eaters, they also eat insects and a variety of fruits and berries. These birds have the ability to metabolize the red-orange carotenoids from the berries and fruits, and deposit the colors into their feathers. Flamingos and Roseate Spoonbills have this ability too.
Mates stay together for life, sing together, build nests and raise families together. Cardinals are admirable birds. But because they are not rare and we see them in all months, perhaps we take them for granted. Remember that these songbirds are bright spots on cold drab winter days, and they love to sing their songs in the mornings and the evenings.
“When Cardinals Appear, Angels Are Near.” Some believe cardinals are a little bit of heaven on earth, and some believe they symbolize loved ones who have passed on. Whatever you believe, they are delightful to see during the dark days of winter.