Monday, May 6, 2013

Lessons from Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal

Below is a female Northern Cardinal and I got this photo from Wikipedia.

The author’s name is Geoff Clarke.

 We’re all familiar with the brilliant red color of the male and see many pictures of him, but not so often of the female. But I think she has a beauty and loveliness of her own, though I'd say hers is a more subtle beauty. 

Most of my family and friends know how much I enjoy feeding the birds and not just feeding them, but observing them. It all started with a pair of cardinals who decided to build a nest in the bush right outside my kitchen window, giving me a “ringside seat” of the whole process. I learned a lot about birds from them, as their nest was a successful one and I got to watch the mama roosting on the eggs and all the comings and goings of both parents. And best of all, I got to watch and hear the parents calling and urging their two young ones out of the nest at the right time (now how do they know when that is?) and watch them “leading” them, walking backwards and flapping their wings, across the yard to safety in some branches in the yard in back. It was quite an amazing spectacle to to say the least.

I just wanted to take this time to say a few things about some behavior patterns that impress me about this father and mother. I like how with cardinals they both sing. A beautiful song. But I like it that he sings loudly from high in the trees, and she sings a softer lovely song from the nest. I like it that while she’s contentedly resting on her nest, he brings her food and places it in her mouth. I like it that when the eggs hatch, both parents bring food to their hungry offspring, but that she tends to stay awhile and clean things out a bit. And she keeps cover over them still, after hatching, in bad weather and during the night. 
I like it that when the little fledglings come out and begin life in the world, that both parents  call them out and both parents lead them where they want them to go. When I observed it myself, I liked how they flapped and flapped their wings at the little guys, not just telling them what they needed to do by the calling and chattering, but showing them how to do it. Then, it was the dad who really caught my attention and made me become a fan of this bird. Once the “children” are out of the nest, it’s their father who so zealously and tirelessly goes about the feeding and teaching and protecting of his offspring. Usually, you see them with him, and as they grow older, they follow him about from place to place until he no longer takes heed to their noisy pleas for food.  And from what I read, their mama is usually somewhere starting a new nest while their father teaches them the ways of the world. Until fall comes, that is, and then you may see the mom join in more with getting everyone ready for the winter.

Can you see any lessons to be drawn from the way God made this one creature in His universe? I think there are some nice ones to be drawn from this beautiful and familiar bird. Maybe nice applications for children in a science lesson or during family time. Oh, and one other thing I learned about Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. They mate for life. Need I say more about that?

Maxine a/k/a Nanna


  1. Oh, I love this, Maxine! I can't believe I hadn't seen it before.

    1. Oh really, Laurie? Haha this is one of the oldies that is also a favorite because it brings back such memories to me of happy days. Thanks for taking the time to read it and comment, dear. Have a blessed day!

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