Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

A person would have to have a heart closed to beauty not to enjoy the sight of the gorgeous red feathers of the male cardinal who wears a black mask around his eyes and down to his throat.

This bird's sturdy cone-shaped red beak is great for breaking seeds as well as plunging into fruit or consuming insects. Incidentally, the brightness of the red breast color of the male and of the red under-wing coverts of the tawny female is a direct indication of their reproductive success and the parental care they will give their offspring— because it shows they live where they've found a healthy diet! But the way the pair makes music together is perhaps the most amazing to note. Their song is pleasant. But what is most unusual, and definitely part of the Creator's not-by-accident design, is that a female cardinal can be heard singing a duet with her life-long mate while she is sitting on their nest! To have a female nesting bird singing is almost unheard-of in bird families. (Females are even dressed by their Creator in rather dull colors so as not to call attention to themselves and place their eggs or newly hatched little ones in jeopardy!) But, somehow, the female cardinal knows her mate is her staunch defender, so she regularly joins him in song. In some pairs the two begin singing together even during the early courtship period. Researchers have studied this characteristic to understand the reason for this unexpected music from the nest. The conclusion so far is that the female uses the song to inform her mate about whether or not the necessary food supply for herself and babies is dwindling. The singing pair will often call back and forth with the same phrases of song, but the male's song is usually not quite so long or complex as that of the female.

The male cardinal is known to be very territorial, and his role as staunch defender of his female many times seems carried to the extreme. It's not by accident the beautiful little bird will go to such great lengths. He was created to be her protector, and he takes his job quite seriously. So much so that he has been observed spending literally hours attacking his own reflection in a glass—unaware the good-looking rival he is sure would be a threat to his mate is none other than the mirrored reflection of himself!

The pair stay together all year long, having up to four clutches of 3 or 4 eggs each a year—each clutch hatching in a couple weeks. Often while the daddy cardinal cares for the newly-hatched youngsters, the mother bird is already off starting another brood! It's obvious they know what their job is, and they simply go about their assignment, without argument, making the world around them more beautiful summer or winter!

(We would make our world and those around us happier, too, if we'd simply move forward—without argument, at God's direction!)

"NOT BY ACCIDENT" (c) Juanita Kretschmar is used by permission and was first published in the book "Not By Accident 2" page 29

Picture originally found here

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