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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#17: Northern Cardinal - Durham, NC

As a birder, there are sometimes birds that you just take for granted. There are always going to be House Finches at my feeders, there are always going to be Carolina Wrens twittering in the woodlands, and there are always going to be Tufted Titmice rasping away from the treetops.

It’s a sad situation, and it means that birds like the Northern Cardinal get passed over, which is really too bad. Yes, I can find one at any time of the year at any birding locale I visit, but sometimes you need to step back a bit and realize that in the middle of suburban North Carolina lives a vibrant red songbird with a cool black mask that honestly wouldn’t seem all that out of place in the tropics. But here in North Carolina, on some days in the middle of winter when the sun cuts through the crisp cloudless sky, there’s a bright red little apple sitting atop a leafless shrub trying to keep warm, and he’s none other than a Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal - Durham, NC; 06/16/2010

This particular guy had been frequenting our side yard all summer because he’d made a nest in one of our bushes, and the baby Cardinals were starting to get hungry. I found him hanging out in a magnolia with a beak full of food, and I managed to get this decent shot of him in the late afternoon sun. Looking back on it now, I think I probably appreciate the Northern Cardinal more than I ever have in the past. I’ll have to make a note of spending some time with them next time I go birding. Or, at least until I find three or four in a row, at which point I’ll probably revert to my past inclinations against my own wishes.


  1. If you could send a few Northern Cardinals to Utah, we'd give them lots of love and appreciation!

  2. @Birding Is Fun! - I'll see what I can do. I would ask for something in return, but I'm not aware of any absurdly common bird from Utah that's as awesome as a Cardinal! ;)