A Close Up Look at a Family of Cardinals


Before a few weeks ago, I could count on my fingers the number of times I’d seen a Cardinal Bird with my own eyes. But then beginning in mid July, a family of them nested in a tree beside our home, so for a few weeks I was seeing them everyday.

This would be no big thing to the American friends reading, as Cardinals are fairly common in the United States, but here in Toronto we are nearly at the northernmost part of their range, so we don’t see them very often. Well, to clarify, people living outside of the city might see them more regularly, but I don’t think many people downtown see them very often.

So I was pretty excited having this family taking an extended stay nearby. I got to know their chirps and calls and I think they got to know me too, because towards the end of their time here, they seemed to have gotten very used to having me lurking around below them with my camera, and they didn’t seem alarmed in the least.

They left a few days ago, and I miss them.

I thought I might be wrong about them being gone, when on Saturday I was reading outside on the deck. I heard a fancy bird call and jumped up all eager-like to see what I hoped was one of them. Stretching on the tip of my toes to see over the fence, I looked towards the sound. There was a lady, about 40, dressed in hospital scrubs, on her bike and obviously on her way home from work. She had stopped in the road and was whistling a most impressive bird song towards a group of sparrows that live at the top of a light post. She had left some food for them and was encouraging them to come and get it. She actually called out ‘Come and get your dinner’ to them a few times before riding away. She never saw me seeing her. That was pretty interesting to catch sight of, but kind of sad because it wasn’t ‘my’ Cardinals.

Here is the father in his deep red plumage. I notice that the crest on the top of their heads is sometimes smoothed down and sometimes pointed right up …




Here are the babies. There were two of them but they looked the same. Apparently the males begin to turn red in the fall, because their bodies process food differently …





Here is the father with some food in his mouth for the babies …


And here is a baby being fed …



I only got one picture of the mother and it isn’t a great one. She was much more elusive than were her man and her brood …


A couple more of the adult male …



Thanks for taking a look.
xo loulou