Thursday, May 12, 2022

Kissin' Cardinals

Male and female Northern Cardinals form a strong pair bond and remain together all year long. While divorce does occur, they usually mate for life and seek a new partner only after death of a previous one. Although we have seen several tolerate each other at the feeder during the winter, a single pair now dominates the yard.

The head crest is a striking feature. The male crest is usually fully raised while singing, though this may also signal fear or excitement: 

Female with crest raised:

As breeding season approaches, the pair strengthens their bond by engaging in courtship rituals. Here, both lower their crests as the female begs to be fed and the male complies. These poor photos were taken through a window, but they were too precious to not share:

The range of Northern Cardinals extends over the eastern half of the lower 48 states, into the US-Mexico border area and much of Mexico.  Interestingly, late in the 19th Century, cardinals almost disappeared from part of their original breeding territory in the northeastern US. 

The reason for this retreat is uncertain, whether it was disease or the loss of natural habitat due to rapid urbanization. Cardinals are non-migratory and sometimes suffered massive die-offs during severe winters. Yet, after about 1930, their breeding range began expanding and they repopulated the northeast, very likely because they adapted to the suburban environment and benefitted from the increased popularity of bird feeders. They were breeding in southern Connecticut by 1952 and now are found in Maine and Nova Scotia.

While the bluebirds have occupied the nest box in the side yard, competition for the second box on the back lawn continues:

The House Sparrows stopped adding nesting material after I cleaned out the box twice a day for three days in a row. Now the pair of bluebirds, though not yet building a nest, chase away the Tree Swallows which attempt to enter the box:

The swallows often sit passively on the fence near the nest box. This is nice comparison between the plumage of the female with that of the more colorful male:

The male bluebird keeps watch:


Bluebirds often forage on the ground. 

Male American Goldfinches have molted into their bright breeding plumage:

Migrating arrivals included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher...

...Black-and-White Warbler...

...Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler...

...Gray Catbirds...

...Great Crested Flycatcher...

,,,and a Baltimore Oriole balancing a bit of suet cake on his tongue:

Along Diamond Lake, the trees are putting out leaves:

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =
Linking to:

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


  1. They are all so beautiful! Lovely to see them! (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  2. They're all great, but I love the Northern Cardinal photos!

  3. found and captured some beauties, the bluebird is my favorite.

  4. Ken, I'm so glad you have all these wonderful birds in your new backyard! The wonderful pictures of the cardinals and the knowledge you shared made a great series. (And your windows must be much much cleaner than mine ever are!) Thank you for all of this! (From your part-time Floridian friend who never has birds to look at in her canal backyard).

  5. Hi Ken, the colors of your native birds are always incredible. Especially the red of the cardinals. Your photos are great. You know: the best photo is always the one you take. Thanks for sharing.
    Best regards - Elke from Germany

  6. Hi Ken, the colors of your native birds are always incredible. Especially the red of the cardinals. Your photos are great. You know the best photo is always the one you take. Thanks for sharing.
    Best regards - Elke from Germany

  7. I enjoyed the sequence of cardinal photos, Kenneth, and learned something as well about the mating ritual. Seems like those bluebirds and tree sparrows are having a turf war, but then housing is hard to find even for humans.

  8. Amazing pictures!

  9. So, THAT'S where all our birds went! To your yard!

    Great sequence of the cardinals. We've been watching them here going through the same ritual. Last year, the yard pair had three broods. Overachievers.

    A very lovely post, Ken.

  10. your pictures are fantasic as always..We have mostly the same birds..Our Bluebirds have just fledged..Our Wrens are filling a house with sticks and I have Chickadees in another..There are several pairs of Cardinals around and loads of Finches...Thanks for sharing you beautiful pictures.

  11. I really, really enjoyed the courtship display of the Cardinals!!
    Thanks so much for linking in and posting your blog at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

  12. It's starting to look more like Spring there! It got HOT here this week but I hope we can still get out from time to time. The Cardinals are very sweet and fun to watch. Enjoy your week. Diane

  13. Great photos all, but I especially love the cardinal series!
    Thanks for sharing at

  14. Yes, the 'poor' photos were too good not to share. They're fabulous. And you've got me thinking about bird divorce now....not sure how to google more information on it tho....

  15. Wonderful photos! I love the kissing close-ups!


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