Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Doug Hayes sent some nice photos of one of my favorite local birds. (To my shame, Iearned only last year that cardinals are sexually dimorphic: I always thought that the browner females were Cedar Waxwings. Doug’s captions are indented:

The Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) have two fledglings. Both are females and are flying strongly enough to keep up with their parents on their trips across our yard to the bird feeder next door. They will probably be heading out on their own soon. Even so, both of the parents still feed them. On most of the parents’ flights, one of the babies follows them while the other remains in the tree near the nest. Later in the day, it is not unusual to see both fledglings hanging out with the adults. I have been putting out birdseed for them and they have been spending more time in our yard.
The adult cardinals perched near the woodpile where they were feeding on lichen growing on the logs.
He added this responding to my query:
The photos were taken Richmond, Virginia not far from Forest Hill Park. Camera setup, for those interested, is a Sony A7R IV mirrorless body, Sony 200-600 zoom lens plus 1.4x teleconverter. Camera was mounted on a tripod and set to silent shutter mode.
One of the fledglings feasting on wild strawberries in our plant bed.
The same fledgling, finished eating, perched on one of the plant trellises – her beak is smeared with strawberry juice.
Stopping on the woodpile on her way back to the nest.
Both fledglings hanging out with mom.
Even though the fledgling is able to feed herself, she still accepts handouts from both parents.
Mom feeding one of the babies while dad keeps a lookout. He saw me in the window and flew closer to see what I was up to.
While a bit drab compared to the male cardinal, the female has quite a bit of color in her wings and tail.
Dad feeding one of the babies:
The male cardinal in all his glory:

10 Comments

  1. Boudiccadilys
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. I had a cardinal pair for a while and then one day the female was gone. I assume something happened to her as she’s not returned. I thought he’d get a new late-night not yet anyway.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Excellent photos on cardinal family.

  3. JezGrove
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Lovely photos – thanks!

  4. rickflick
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Such a handsome bird. A big favorite in the East. Not present here in Idaho (as far as I know).

  5. Debra Coplan
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos!
    That last photo is absolutely striking.

  6. Paul Topping
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    “While a bit drab compared to the male cardinal, the female has quite a bit of color in her wings and tail.”

    Not to mention her beak!

  7. Posted May 30, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Wow! Those are gorgeous!

  8. Dom
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I would love to see cardinals in the snow in a “typical New England winter” 😃

  9. Barry McGuire
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I have a male Cardinal that visits every morning. He sits on the deck railing and then flies full speed and crashes into the glass door to the patio and then slides awkwardly to the deck, flapping hard to break the fall. He flies back to the railing and does it again. And again. And again.

    I surmise he sees his image in the glass door and believes it an interloper into his territory. He never learns and is back every morning for a new round of confrontations. So far he has not hurt himself.

    And now I know what happened to my vanishing strawberries nearby.

    • Doug Hayes
      Posted May 30, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      This is common behavior during mating and nesting season. Cardinals become quite feisty during this time and will fight their reflection in window glass and car mirrors.


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