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.