Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cardinal Envy

A few days ago, while letting the dogs outside, I was blown away by the sight of a cardinal feeding on the ground under my bird feeders. I know that cardinals are indigenous to Iowa and can be found all over the state. Heck, mom used to have a ton of cardinals at her bird feeder in Turin. But, in the eighteen years we have lived in West Bend, I have NEVER, EVER seen a cardinal. Even during our crop rides. We've seen eagles, hawks, orioles, woodpeckers, goldfinches, scarlet tanagers, tons of red-wing blackbirds and even yellow-breasted blackbirds. The strangest bird we saw once was an American bittern. But I've never spotted a cardinal - until four days ago. I was so shocked I just stood there, mouth and door wide open, my heart racing a hundred miles an hour.

As I ran back into the house I kept praying "Please, please! Tell your family and friends that you found some good food. Maybe they'll come too!" Soon, as I watched from my kitchen window, a female flew down and joined her mate. I was in heaven! I watched those two birds all that day and the next. And they haven't been back since.

I'm just crushed! I've even dreamed about them - cherry red against the white snow. They were so beautiful. Now, don't get me wrong, we have a ton of birds at our feeders. Finches (purple, house and gold), a little nuthatch, dark-eyed juncos, an occasional blue jay and, of course zillions of sparrows. The strangest birds we ever got was a merlin which had killed and was eating a sparrow under the tree, and a hawk that stopped in for a drink of water and to preen his feathers on a branch of a tree right outside our window. But never cardinals. Damn.

I'm pist that I didn't get a picture of them. I love my point and shoot camera, but it just isn't good for taking pictures of skittish critters - like birds. If ever I get an SLR, it will be to take these kinds of pictures.

I'm so hoping they remember the good food and easy water found in my back yard and come back to make my day bright once more. Cardinals just make the world seem happier.

(Note: I was going to link to each bird so you could see a picture of them, but that's too many links. Instead, just go to enature and you can see and hear them for yourself. It's a great website that I use regularly. Enjoy!)

9 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Thanks for the link, we have been looking for a good birds resource.
I know just how you feel about the cardinal. I feel the same. It seems odd but I think it may actually be that red color. The red is just so impressive, I'm always captured and I freeze just like you did.

Sally said...

Tanna - I know. A dot of red in a sea of brown/gray. It was quite a sight. I love that website. Just put in your zip code and it lists the animals and birds you should find around your home. Quite cool.

tammy said...

Wow, what a great site. The Preschooler will be thrilled! We've been trying to identify birds by their songs, which has gotten us exactly nowhere so far. BUT, we do have a regular family of cardinals. Woo hoo.

Sally said...

Hi Tammy - Yea, Quinten likes listening to the birds on that site. It really has been helpful for me. That's where I found out we'd seen an American bittern. Too cool!

James said...

Boy you've got a lot of snow. Wish we had some of that down in Kentucky, it would feel a lot more like Christmas time. The cardinal is the State bird down here (and of course the name of lots of high school and college ball teams). We have them all over the place...not to rub anything in. I hoever had a similar experience in the late summer with hummingbirds. I keep a feeder outside my office window when it's warm in hopes of spying some. I went all summer without any, then in September they came in droves, probably migrating through. For a period of about a week I had probably a dozen an hour, buzzing around, staring through the screen at me. It was wonderful. And then they were gone. The feeder is still up for some reason...probably because I don't want to admit they've left for greener pastures. Is should put up something for the winter birdies.

Sally said...

Hi James - thanks for visiting! Snow AND ice, thank you very much. I don't know about your hummingbirds, but ours migrate through in May on their way to Alaska to breed and back through in September on their way to their wintering grounds in South America. That's a loooong way for those little jewels to go just to stay warm! I love them, though. We always get tons of them (I have 3 feeders going) and I love watching them. Thanks for your comments.

Sally said...

Damn, James! How am I supposed to check out your blog if you don't have your profile turned on?

James said...

Oops.

A wildlife gardener said...

In the second pic I can clearly see the little tuft on its head, though, Sally, so I know it's a cardinal.

I know what you mean about cameras as well. I feel like adding a sentence to my post today to ask everyone to click on each bird photo to enlarge it...otherwise they will never be able to identify them :)