Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Father Cardinal & Others

No, this is not going to be yet-another of those sordid tales of the misdeeds of men in Catholic robes. Rather, it's a story, told in photos, of dedicated parenting.

Of all the visitors to either my, or Hilary's bird feeders, none are as wary and watchful as the male cardinal. He often forgoes eating his own meal, preferring instead to stand guard nearby while his mate dines. When she's done and has flown back to the safety of nearby bushes, he may grab a few hurried nibbles before joining her.

While at Hilary's a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching a Dad Cardinal introduce his fledgling daughter to the joys of the feeder. (Many of the photos aren't especially crisp because they were taken through a glass door. Click each if you wish to see a larger version.)

As usual, he first cases the joint from the nearby plum tree.

Daughter waits dutifully on a nearby branch. She's hoping for a bill-to-bill feeding. She's cute, in that endearing, gawky, pre-teen kind of a way.

Maybe Dad will get the hint if she flits over to sit near him.

Well, that didn't work. He flew down to the ground near where all that stuff is. Hmm, he seems to be eating....

Okay! Here I am Dad! Feed me, like in the good ole days, whaddaya say? Wait, where you going?

Dad's gone back upstairs to stand guard. He has faith that his little girl is as clever as she is cute. She'll figure it out.

Hey! Dad was right! This ain't so hard!

Our feeders play host to several other critters, mostly of the feathered variety. Here are a few:

Goldfinches are frequent, colourful, and welcome springtime visitors.

For some reason, when I saw this photo, I could easily imagine this grackle "Harummph-ing" self-importantly.

I was very pleased to be able to snap a photo of this infrequent guest, a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. I hope I get another chance to get a better shot. It was a treat just to see him, though.

I usually scatter a few peanuts below the feeder each morning. Then it becomes a race between the blue jays, grackles and squirrels to see who makes off with the bounty. As often as not, it's the ever-alert jays. This fellow had no problem finding his prize among the fallen seeds and magnolia blossoms.

And we'll close this offering with an example of the disparate group one might find enjoying scattered birdseed. Clockwise from the top, we have a chipmunk, a male brown-headed cowbird, a redwing blackbird and a female cowbird.

Hope you enjoyed the show.


Travis Erwin said...

How is it you take better pictures through doors than I do out in the open?

Hilary said...

Always fun to see the birds whether through my window or lens.. or yours. I love that Grosbeak. I've never seen one before. And that Grackle looks fierce! Purty pictures.

Time to refill my feeder... again.

Althea said...

Cool birdies :) There are lots of sweet sounding birds here in Europe. They sound far more intelligent than the ones back home.

Leah J. Utas said...

Frank, that was wonderful. I've never seen a cardinal. We've had a rose-breasted grosbeak stop by on its way north and again a few weeks later heading south. It's a treat to see them.

Maud said...

How wonderful, Frank! All those birds are totally exotic to me, none of them featuring here in the UK.

Dawno said...

Love these - what great birds you have there! The majority of birds I see are sparrows and not very photogenic. Our occasional blue jays are 'scrub jays' and not nearly as pretty as yours - they're also mean.

I've heard mourning doves and mockingbirds, but don't see them often - and even if I could get a camera to the window in time, the scenery around her isn't nearly as pretty. Thanks for sharing!

Barbara Martin said...

Great shots of the cardinals, Frank. Being so small, sometimes they're hard to spot. But their song helps you to zero in on their location in the trees. I've never seen cardinal parents with more than two youngsters at a time. My bird book says they lay 3-4 pale green eggs with brown and lilac spots.

Frank Baron said...

~ Travis, might be time to check your battery. Or your eyesight. ;)

~ Thanks Hil. Hopefully the grosbeak will make a return visit when you're here. :)

~ Althea, it's probably all those old museums and universities they perch upon. ;)

~ Glad you enjoyed, Leah. Hope you catch a few glimpses of grosbeaks again this year. They're a treat.

~ I aim to please, Maud. Thanks for the kind words. And I bet you've got some terrific birds on your side of the pond that we don't see here.

~ Glad you liked, Dawno. Thanks for saying so. And it's good to see you again. :)

~ Thanks Barbara. I've never seen cardinals nesting but I can attest to their devotion and diligence as parents.

Tabor said...

Very nice photos even through a window!!

Chicago Mary said...

Frank, these are great shots. The chipmunk being my least favorite as they have eaten more of my seed over the years than the birds, I believe!

Pauline said...

All the birds in my photos fly away before I can make images of them - which is why I don't post photos of birds;) Yours are marvelous. Do you use a telephoto lens?

Frank Baron said...

Thanks, Tabor. :)

But Mary, they're so darn cute! :)

Hi Pauline and thanks. :) Yeah, my little Sony has a 10X optical zoom, probably roughly equivalent to a 200mm lens if I was using a SLR. It doesn't have the sharpness of a quality telephoto but it's fine for an inexpensive grab-shot camera.

Dianne said...

this was a wonderful show
thank you!

I love bird body language, I like to think I know what they're thinking or saying to each other if I watch closely long enough

Kappa no He said...

Man, I'm in love with daddy Cardinals. What nobel birds. I wonder if I could trade my husband for a Cardinal? *scratches head*

Anonymous said...

Great pics! Thanks for sharing!
:) The Bach

Bernita said...

Cardinals are so boldly beautiful.

Grayquill said...

We don't get Cardnials here, but now and then a Blue Jays comes by. And then there are the crows....they come through by the millions. No, I meant billions, and of course seagulls appear by the thousands.
Nice pictures!

Bhaswati said...

Ah, what beauties! And loved your chuckle-inspiring commentary to go with the photos. Treat for a bird lover/watcher like me. :)

Frank Baron said...

Glad you enjoyed, Dianne. I often think the same thing. Hmmm...you think we might both be birdbrains? ;)

They are indeed, Terrie. I dunno about that trade, though.... :)

You're welcome, Bach. Thanks for stopping by. :)

They are that, Bernita. Thanks for the visit.

Thanks GC. I'm a big fan of crows and gulls too. Both are very clever animals. Try watching them a while when the fish aren't biting.

I'm pleased you enjoyed it, Bhaswati. Thanks for saying so. :)

Dianne said...

hey Frank, if being a birdbrain is wrong I don't wanna be right ;)

Skunkfeathers said...

Ah, the bird variety I grew up with on the farm in Iowa, and the lack of recognition I had then for one of Nature's simpler pleasures. In those days, I saw the rare cardinal, finches, bluejays, crows, redwing blackbirds, grackels, sparrows, barn swallows, swifts, purple martins, robins, meadowlarks, and a small colony of cedar waxwings, as well as two breeds of owls.

Them were the days ;-)