Hello Stalkers, welcome to the seventh installment of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors. There have been several comments and other interactions on some of our social media sites. We applaud you; it lets Mike know that people are seeing and appreciating the work he does. Without you interacting there’s no other way to know if you’re seeing what we put out there for you or if you enjoy it. Let us know what you like and what you’d like to see more of by commenting on pictures and posts. Share them with your friends!
Mike has a wonderful new video featuring Nebraska Migration. You can see and share a short clip with your friends here. . . Nebraska Migration Short. The full length version will be released and featured next week, so be prepared! We’re excited! These migration movements show what we are all anticipating – spring is slowly creeping closer. Many of us will welcome it with open arms, grateful for slightly higher digits on our weather report, birds returning and green sprouts pushing their way through the topsoil. Spring is a time of renewal and promise. However, there’s one bird that doesn’t mind the winter and doesn’t migrate away from it. It’s brilliant color and familiar look can be seen all year, even against the beautiful backdrop of snow.
The Northern Cardinal is a fairly large, long-tailed songbird. It has a short thick bill and a prominent crest. This is how many of us identify that it’s a cardinal that we’re looking at. Males are even more identifiable by their brilliant red coloring. They are red all over, with a reddish bill and a black face immediately around the bill. In contrast, the female cardinal is pale brown all over with warm reddish tinges in its wings, tail and crest; she has the same black face and bill as the male.
Cardinals don’t molt their brilliant feathers in the winter and they don’t migrate; this is why they can be seen all year round. Cardinals are slightly smaller than a robin. On average they are 8-9 inches in length and weigh approximately 1.5 ounces. The oldest living cardinal was recorded at 15 years and 9 months.
Urban expansion has helped this bird move north and will continue to allow this bird to spread it’s range. This picture that I acquired from allaboutbirds.com shows the current range of the Northern Cardinal. They like areas with low shrubs and trees. Woods and backyards are popular places for it to be found. FUN FACT: This bright colored bird is liked by such a range of people that it is the state bird for seven states!
The Northern Cardinal may forage on or near the ground and can often been seen visiting bird feeders. It has been seen that the young will give way to adults during foraging and females will give way to males. They eat mainly seeds and fruits but will supplement their diet with various insects. If you’d like to try to attract cardinals to your backyard, have low shrubs and trees and try black oil sunflower seeds in your birdfeeder and on the ground. These birds don’t seem to like to travel far, only flying short distances.
Have you seen a cardinal attack its reflection in a window or other shiny surface and wonder why? During mating season, they get an overload of an aggressive hormone. They will fight off anyone that nears their nest or mate, including their reflections. Cardinals have been seen to fight their reflections for hours at a time, however, most of them loose this hormone eventually and return to their songbird selves. A pair of cardinals will have one or two broods per season. The female is generally the one that builds the nest, but the male will occasionally bring supplies to her. They place the nest in dense tangles of shrubs and vines.The clutch will include two to five eggs, that are a grayish white, speckled with brown. They will incubate between eleven and thirteen days before hatching and the nestling period is a mere seven to thirteen days. During this time the nestlings are fed mostly insects. After the season is over the nest is not used again. Pairs may sometimes stay together through the winter but twenty percent split by the next season.
When a cardinal is in an urban area they may be seen in conspicuous areas. Such as sitting on fences, or foraging around bird feeders. However, if you were to enter the woods looking for these birds you would have a much more difficult time scouting one out. They tend to be much more inconspicuous, but they can be found easier by recognizing their loud metallic chip notes. In fact, the cardinal is one of the few North American female songbirds that sing. She will often do this while sitting on the nest, signaling to the male when to bring food. Pairs may share certain song phrases but the female may sing a longer and more complex song than the male.
These birds are fascinating in so many ways and are often one of the main reasons people pull out their bird field guides. From their brilliant color, their conspicuous appearance, year round presence and songbird features, they are a favorite of many.
How much of the website have you seen? Take some time after you’ve finished reading this to browse around. Look at the galleries, peek in on the videos page, see if you can find something you haven’t seen yet. If you find it, leave a comment and let us know what you thought! Encourage your friends to sign up for a membership so they don’t keep missing out on these newsletters and other member exclusive content! As always, if you like what you see – likes, shares and comments are ALWAYS appreciated!
Be sure to check out the Cardinal Photo Gallery!