Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Where are all the Cardinals?...Here!

Watched from behind by some male Northern Cardinals

Kim, the Kitchen Window Birder asked yesterday, "Where are all the cardinals?" She lives in central Massachusetts and reports seeing fewer Northern Cardinals in her area this winter. We had a pair nest in our yard this summer. The adults and four juveniles were seen frequently in the area until winter arrived. Now I only see the adults when they visit my feeders faithfully at dawn and dusk and rarely see them in the middle of the day. They are territorial birds.


I have been visiting a local trail at Riverside Park in Cambridge frequently. The walking is easy in this marshy area and the birds are plentiful. Tree Sparrows are seen by the dozen. Chickadees feed easily from your hand and several Blue Jays are about too. I rarely see Blue Jays at home, even for easy peanuts. On New Year's Day, my husband and I were treated to a very vocal Pileated Woodpecker near the walkway. White-breasted Nuthatches and Juncos are also plentiful.

A Chickadee investigates my binoculars

I have never seen so many Cardinals in one location. The birds on this trail are used to people filling feeding trays which are set out in a couple of locations. Last week while I was feeding some Chickadees I was surprised to find myself surrounded at a distance by Cardinals. I counted no less than ten of them as they waited to see if I would put out seed for them. I have never seen them grouped like this. Some sunflower seeds thrown on the ground enticed them to come gradually closer.

Female Northern Cardinal

I have mentioned before that Northern Cardinals were not found in southern Ontario fifty years ago. Their range has gradually spread northward as has the range of the House Finch. They are not found in northern Ontario even in the summer.

Other birds seen along this trail...
White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee
American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco

There are likely similar clusters of Cardinals in Massachusetts in wooded and marshy areas. They eat of varied diet of seeds, fruit, buds and insects. There bright colour and cheery cheep is always welcome in the winter.

22 comments:

  1. That's a cute idea putting seeds in your binoculars. It's kinda of like training or imprinting your binocs to see and experience the birds more closely.

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  2. Lovely photos Ruth..I have never seen that many cardinals in one place. I usually have one pair here. The other day there were two females and they had a stand off and flap off around one of the feeders while one mate watched. It was interesting behavior..

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  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. We have quite different local wildlife, so it's lovely to have a glimpse into the birdlife in your area.

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  4. We used to have a lot of cardinals in the winter but they have been scarce in the winter these past couple of years. You would think they would stay around here where the weather is warmer. We do have a local hawk visitor which helps keep them away I suppose. I wish it would find lodgins somewhere else and leave the pretty songbirds along. Helen

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  5. Well I guess my question is answered!! They are in your neck of thew woods. HA!

    Beautiful photos of the cardinals and other birds. I am going to have to remember brining seed with me when I go on my journeys to feed the birds.

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  6. Wow, Ruth, how neat to see all those cardinals! I have quite a few in my yard too, but usually don't get to see all of them at the same time and some of the males are acting pretty territorial already.

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  7. Great photos. I love the first one of the 3 cardinals. They are such beautiful birds. I have a few pairs in my yard and they are always a welcome sight. Looks like you had a great birding day!

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  8. WOW great day for you birding. I haven't seen that many cardinals around my feeders this winter as I did last. There are a few hanging out along the small trail by my place. I think I may have to visit Riverside Park this weekend and do some birding and see what luck I can get myself into. In your collage picture what bird is it on the top left. It's not a cat bird?

    I really enjoy the adventures you bring us.

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  9. Oh, just look at all the red beauty! So that's where they are all! ;c)
    Love your little chickadee on the bins!

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  10. They are gorgeous birds. We'd see and hear them a lot in Southwestern Ontario but not very much if at all here in the east. Unfortunately.

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  11. Would you care to share a couple of those Cardinals with me?Send them west.Beautiful pictures.
    Blessings,Ruth

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  12. Such showy birds ... I'd love to see one but we don't have them here in the west.

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  13. The chickadee on your binoculars is hilarious! What a great idea for a picture.
    I sure wish we had cardinals out west in Alberta!

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  14. Great photos and information...
    So far I havent seen any cardinals on day 2 of our Florida trip.

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  15. Beautiful bird captures. I miss cardinals.

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  16. What a great post. I just loved the Cardinals. Wonderful photographs.

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  17. Wow--all those lovely male cardinals. . .and the females too, cute.
    I suspect if global warming keeps marching, more bird migration and displacement will occur.

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  18. I've never seen so many cardinals together. I have one pair here now. Last spring another pair showed up.
    Love the chickadee on you binocs.
    What a lovely day of birding you had and shared.

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  19. what beautiful pictures, Ruth.

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  20. Thanks for your comments. Cheryl D, the bird in question is a White-breasted Nuthatch. I used to have them at my feeders last winter, but have only seen them on trails this year.

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  21. Nice post.-I love seeing groups of male cardinals together-what a great sight that is. Ten of them waiting for food-I hope their is no Cardinal cloning going on in the area.How lucky can you be to have a chickadee land on your binoculars-great shot! You should send that in to Birdwatcher's Digest. Are you sure you didn't spread little peanut butter around the lens?

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  22. No peanut butter in my bins, Larry! Sunflower seeds were enticing enough. Actually they landed on the the binoculars before I put seed there. That is what gave me the idea for the picture. But I had to bribe them to return.

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