Saturday, March 3, 2012

Northern Cardinal

Claiming Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) to be the most abundant and the most beautiful song birds in North America is not an over statement. Male is bright red all over with an orange bill and female and immature are with dull brownish feathers. Most of song birds only males sing. But both male and female sing. You often see female sings and calls when sitting at the nest to send signals for male to bring her food. I snap these pictures few days ago when weather seemed like a spring though it's still winter.

(Northern Cardinal, male)

A friend of mine came visiting me in May and while sitting at deck, she saw these cardinals. She asked me "how beautiful these birds are...what are they?". She has never seen Northern Cardinal in California because this bird only breed in the east. 

Another friend told me once he saw a cardinal in the park but the color was weird. I did not quite understand what he meant. I thought molting sometimes could cause discoloration on feathers. When I saw the picture he sent me...that really cracked me up....OMG! I told him...the bird he saw was actually a female Northern Cardinal! I love newbie birder :) Actually, male cardinal's bright red color is derived from carotenoid pigments appeared in their favorite food,  such as black oil sunflower seeds. Female cardinals just simply lacks the necessary enzymes to breakdown carotenoids therefore appear to be dull brownish. 

Males start fighting territories in the early spring and when male passes food to his loved one, the first brood would be produced in the early April and normally 2 to 3 broods a year. I hope soon I will spot some love nests and share new life with everyone! Happy Birding! -- Linda

** Do you know that Northern Cardinal is 7 states bird? Find out what is your state bird by click this link :))

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