Offering a Seed – Cardinals Feeding Rituals

DSC_0167 male feeding female copyrDSC_0166 male about to offer seed copyr

DSC_0165 female eating seeds copyr

 

While preparing my Irish oatmeal this morning, gazing out the window, I noticed a sweet sight that brought me to tears.

Two cardinals, one male – crimson berry red, and one female, pale reddish-brown were perched on the deck rail. The male selected a pecan bit that I scattered on the rail, hopping back to her, offering her the snack – beak to beak. He repeated the process seven or eight times. Before he offered her the sustenance again, her tail feathers shook and ruffled. I couldn’t detect if something was wrong – was she sick, blind, unable to care for herself?

The resident squirrel hopped up on the deck rail, which startled the male cardinal, causing him to take flight, abandoning the female. She seemed agitated and upset – her head tuft was at attention. Looking around, she flew to a magnolia tree branch for refuge. Eventually the male returned, snatching a few pecan pieces from the deck rail, feeding the female.

I was concerned about the female, so I did some research online, and this is what I found  –

One the website http://www.sciencing.com, I discovered the male cardinal offers the female cardinal a seed (or in this case a nut) as part of the courtship ritual even before the two establish a nest. He will continue to bring her food before, and after she lays eggs. Males are especially attentive, and have even been seen feeding their young, in addition to other species of birds.

After the female lays the eggs, the male continues to bring her food, so she can remain on the nest. After the chicks have hatched, the male may continue to feed the female, and the young for almost two months.

The male cardinal just happened to be feeding a juvenile cardinal! I have never seen a baby cardinal before! (Compare my photos to this link of a juvenile)

Both parents continue to feed the young, until they can forage for themselves. This way mom can keep an ever-watchful eye on the nest. Cardinals are monogamous, and typically have two broods during their lifetime, building a new nest each time, when mom is with child.

I find this fascinating, nurturing, and so sweet. Shortly after this scene unfolded, mom hopped up on the deck rail, and daddy and baby bird flew off.

Wouldn’t that be lovely if our mate prepared dinner for us every day during pregnancy, and for two months after? Just a thought.

(Full disclosure – I have animal kids.)

What do you moms and dads think?

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

Hop on over to the books tabs on my blog, and check out my publications! I’m in the midst of editing my fourth book!

DSC_0164 cardinal offering seed copyr

Memories of Winters Past

I awoke this morning to the grandeur of a new fallen snow.  Living on three acres there’s plenty of wildlife to visually stimulate me on this fine morning.

The mockingbirds, tufted titmouses, cardinals and blue jays scamper about, foraging for the thistle I sprinkled on the frozen deck rails this morning.

Memories of past winters live in my mind…

The winter of 1999 found my husband and in our newly constructed home.  It would also be the last winter for our dog, Mitch.  Plagued with back problems, our Belgian Sheepdog enjoyed a pain-free day with his husky-mix sister, trekking along the two paths that connect the clearing to the back fields shaped like Micky Mouse ears.  Trees laden with crimson berries, slightly frozen, dripping ice sculptures created a fairy tale forest.

Or the winter we had so much snow, hubby would no sooner clear off a portion of the driveway with the box blade on the mower, to spin around and find it snow-covered  – again.

One of the happiest memories of winter included our two pooches – Maggie, an overachieving Chessie and Miss Sasha (a mouthy little husky- shepherd mix that could have passed for a Sheltie.)

Hubby trudged inside, boots covered with snow, nose as red as Rudolph’s and asked “Where’s the red food coloring?”

“In the cabinet by the sink, honey.  What do you need that for?”

“You’ll see.”

Preoccupied with stacking the holiday dishes, I heard a knock on the dining room window.

Much to my surprise and delight, a fire hydrant ice sculpture stood in the snow.  Red like a big snow cone, it made the corners of my mouth turn up and put a gleam in my eye.

The dogs were having so much fun, eating the snow and playing, I couldn’t help but laugh.  And hubby was the big cheese, the supervisor, the hot potato, the hero of the day who made me chuckle.

DSC_0530 Russell Maggie fire hydrant copyr

If my memory serves me correctly, it was also the winter I sported a bright orange and aqua cast (in Miami Dolphin colors) on my left leg – the result of falling in a depression our friend’s dog made on their front lawn.  The tendons in the top of my foot went snap, crackle, pop, followed by a burning sensation – a warning something was wrong.  Six hours in the ER and a dose of dilaudid was just what I needed to ease the pain.

So if I couldn’t be running around with my crazy canines and hubby frolicking in the winter wonderland, the view from the window was the next best thing.

Winters have come and gone, and I cherish these as some of the most memorable.

I penned a poem last year while I was on a walk with our adopted child (our shoe-collecting mini Australian Shepherd).

 I am reposting.  Hope you enjoy the poem and the pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cold kiss of winter brushes my rosy cheeks

and snowflakes drop like confetti.

Five gaggles of graylag geese soar overhead

north to south

in the hazy cotton sky.

I stand reticent,

listening

intently

to their cackling,

as if I were multilingual.

They settle in the field nearby,

graceful

as an experienced aviator

sideslipping a glider in for a landing.

(Copyright Sheree Nielsen)