Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
The Northern Cardinal is probably one of the most familiar garden birds across a large swath of the North American continent. It is one of those species we hardly give a passing glimpse to, given its familiarity, but it is one of the most stunning of our songbirds. The song of the male delivered from high atop a tree is one of the surest signs that spring has arrived. It is a clarion call that lightens the spirit of anyone who hears it.
Cardinals will not hesitate to make their nest in a suburban yard and it is a joy to see the offspring fledge. Sadly, many youngsters in suburban settings fall prey to marauding cats. Despite numerous pleas to keep house cats only many pet owners let their animals wander at will and feral populations form in this way.
Nevertheless cardinals are abundant and have no doubt benefited in large measure from winter feeding stations. Indeed, the Northern Cardinal with a backdrop of snow and evergreens has become a staple image of the Christmas card.
These pictures of the gloriously red male and the more muted female were both taken in our garden.