Monday, January 3, 2011

Cardinals Heat Up The Winter Landscape

There's not many sights as pretty as Cardinals in the snow. Although they number in the millions, there is nothing common about Cardinals. They mate for life and it’s not unusual to spot Mr. and Mrs. Red with their extended family dining at our backyard feeders. They also eat spiders, fruits, berries, insects and wild seeds so they are not seen as often in other seasons when these foods are available. At a bird feeder, Cardinal's favorite food by far, is the black oil sunflower seed. Although they prefer to eat on the ground or low in the bushes, you won’t have to coax them to stop at the nearest hanging feeder with a platform for a quick snack or a leisurely evening meal, in the winter. Cardinals do not migrate, preferring to stay put as long as there is plenty of good food and a water source for them. It's easy to provide a few essential comforts to give them every reason for making their home in your backyard this winter! We have a group of ladies who occasionally stop on the road by our house with binoculars and count the cardinals in our yard. One reported that they counted 11 one day. It's hit or miss. Where there's one, there's usually a few, but they come and go throughout the day. Last time I saw the cardinal watchers stop, there wasn't a speck of red to be found.

Keep the feeders filled during winter with a good quality seed when natural foods are hard to find. Get the best you can afford. The cheap kinds just have a lot of filler that nobody likes.

Provide a source of water. (I purchased an inexpensive bird bath de-icer for $25. which makes the job much easier.)

Did you know that the Cardinal is the state bird for seven states? They are; Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

Do you have them where you live?