Monday, April 18, 2011
I knew I'd read that cardinals mated for life (and that may or may not be entirely true--Google it and you'll get a variety of answers!) but watching these two in the rain the other day, I'm prepared to believe it! It had rained all day, and near evening the female sheltered under the new leaves of the wild honeysuckle near the shed. Over and over, the male flew to the feeder, selected a sunflower seed, and returned to her branch to feed her. Anthropomorphic I may be, but it was achingly sweet to watch.
Cardinals are non-migratory, and these may the same pair I've seen all winter long, the same ones that built their next and defended it against all comers last summer.
They're also highly territorial. I once picked up a male cardinal that had collided with a plate glass window downtown; he was stunned and I wasn't sure he'd make it. After a few hours he perked up, but rather than return him to our small downtown, I took him to our local park thinking it would be safer for him. NOT! Every territorial male cardinal in the area gave chase, and the last I saw of him he was winging his way rapidly back to the relative safety of his territory amongst the shops and high-rises!
More about Northern cardinals here.