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!)