Black-capped Chicadee and Northern Cardinal feeding hungrily during blizzard
Dear Gardening Friends,
During inclement weather, particularly when it is blizzarding, please don’t forget to knock the snow off, and clear the base around, your feeders. While working on a drawing this afternoon and looking out onto the snowy backyard scene I observed a half dozen species of our feathered friends searching for food at the bird feeders and in the fruit-bearing shrubs. The fearless Black-capped Chicadees, with cheery birdsong chic-a-dee-dee-dee, have their amusing habit of darting in for a seed and skedaddling away as quick as can be to crack it open against a firm surface. Particularly sweet was a cardinal pair. They took turns at the feeder; while one was eating, the other was always close by and at the ready with a warning cry.
A question from one of my dear readers:
Dear Kim, I have a question that maybe you can answer. Last summer a male cardinal sang his heart out every day from the tree tops around our house. I thought he must be calling for a mate, but I never saw him with a female at all. Then the most curious thing happened: he began to perch on either my or my husband’s side mirror on our cars. He would peck away at the mirror and flap his wings. It was then that I concluded that he was desperate for a mate. This fall and winter, a male and female have appeared. There is a male (maybe the same one) that has started perching on my car mirror again. Since it is December/January, and if it is the same cardinal who now has a mate, it may have nothing to do with trying to find a mate. If you have any ideas, let me know.
Male Northern Cardinal
Dear Wendy, Although I have never observed male cardinals attacking mirrors or windows, they are well-known for this territorial behavior. The birds see their own reflection and believe it to be a competing male. A group of male turkeys in Rockport has become a real nuisance, aggressively attacking the poor mailman because they see their reflections in his shiny white truck. The species that most frequently display this behavior are: American Robin and Northern Cardinal, and occasionally Northern Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, Wild Turkey, and Ruffed Grouse. To read more about it, go to Mass Audubon’s page on Birds Attacking Windows.