Northern cardinal's color brightens winter
Friday, January 01, 2010
Media contact: Jessica Basham
Most gardens and woods look faded and empty in
winter. We don't see as many animals as we do in summertime. The
cold air makes animals seek warmth under leaves, logs or low-lying
branches. However, one animal keeps busy and brightens nature
during winter. The Northern cardinal is hard to miss flittering and
flying around. He is bright red, so he stands out when perched on
bare tree branches.
Cardinals do not migrate like other birds. They
don't seem to mind the cold, so they stay put. That may be one
reason the cardinal is considered a Christmas bird. Images of the
bird can be seen on ornaments, cards and many other winter
The male cardinal is bright ruby red. Its face and
throat are black, and he has a bright orange beak. The female
cardinal is very different in color. She is mostly brown, but the
same ruby red colors of the male dust her wings and tail. Her beak
is not as bright as the male's and looks almost pink. Both have a
telltale crest or pointed tuft of head feathers.
Northern cardinals are one of many birds that have
learned to live in cities. They especially like parks and
garden areas. They also live in the country, in wooded areas or
areas with lots of shrubs and bushes. Northern cardinals make their
nests from twigs and grasses and build them low to the ground in
thickets and bushes. When the females lay eggs, they lay 2-5
whitish eggs marked with browns and grays.
During winter, look out your window and you may see
many at once. During the warmer mating season, you may see only one
female and one male at a time.
Ask your mom or dad if you can go outside and lay
down in the grass so you can look up into the trees. Don't be
disappointed if you don't see one right away. You may need to ask
your mom or dad to put out some sunflower seeds. They love
them! Northern cardinals also eat fruit and small
Cardinals are not the only winter bird in
Florida. If you like watching birds, ask if you can borrow
some binoculars. Binoculars are a neat way to see birds up close.
Start keeping a journal of the birds you see. If you write down
their colors and other things about them, you will be able to look
them up. You can also visit MyFWC.com for some fun birding
activities and to become a junior birder by joining the Wings Over
Florida Junior Birder Program!
If you see a cardinal, it is said you will have
luck. So next time you see one, make a wish!