Cardinal on a winter fence in the Upper Valley

Looking good in Winter Red!

This beautiful cardinal was spotted in my garden recently and it peaked my curiosity about the species. It was cold enough to make me question why he stayed behind in this miserable temperature. Surely he could have headed South! So, I looked him up. He doesn’t migrate- you probably knew that already but my bird knowledge is very limited. They don’t molt either, so his bright, fiery red plumage stays true and in winter, he is stunning against a white backdrop of snow.

I also learned that they are fierce defenders of their territory and have been known to pick fights with their reflection in glass windows or doors. Undeterred, they will fight for hours without giving up. They will even attack your car windshield. They are ground foragers which explains why when my husband fills the bird feeder they tend to congregate on the ground underneath to feed rather than stay perched on the feeder. They thrive on fruit and seeds and the occasional insect.

The female does most of the nest building using twigs that she crushes and molds into a cup-shaped nest. It takes her 3-9 days to complete the nest.  The clutch size is 2-5 eggs with an incubation period of 11-13 days.

If you care to learn more, check out this site. And, btw, the NH state bird is the Purple Finch and the VT state bird is the Hermit Thrush. Maybe, I’ll learn about those two next.


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