Cardinal In The Rain
Photograph - Photography
(First Place Win in 'Red' Contest) (Featured Art) A photo taken by Nava Thompson of a Red Cardinal caught sitting in the rain on Crabapple limbs.....The northern cardinal is so well loved that it has been named the official bird of no fewer than seven U.S. states. Bright red cardinals are easily identified by even casual bird watchers, and are often seen frequenting backyards and bird feeders. When foraging elsewhere the birds eat insects, seeds, grain, fruit, and sap.....Cardinals, also called "redbirds," do not migrate and have traditionally been more common in warmer climes such as the U.S. southeast. However, in recent decades they have expanded their common range north through the United States and even into Canada. This population growth may be due to an increase in winter birdfeeders and to the bird's ability to adapt to parks and suburban human habitats.....Only males sport the brilliant red plumage for which their species is known. The color is a key to mating success�the brighter the better. Females are an attractive tan/gray.....The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 20�23.5 cm (7.9�9.3 in) and a wingspan of 25�31 cm (9.8�12 in). The adult weighs from 33.6�65 g (1.19�2.3 oz), with an average 44.8 g (1.58 oz). The male averages slightly larger than the female..... The adult male is a brilliant crimson red color with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color becomes duller and darker on the back and wings..... The female is fawn, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks. The beak is cone-shaped and strong..... Young birds, both male and female, show the coloring similar to the adult female until the fall, when they molt and grow adult feathers.....They are brown above and red-brown below, with brick-colored crest, forehead, wings, and tail.....The legs and feet are a dark pink-brown. The iris of the eye is brown...... The plumage color of the males is produced from carotenoid pigments in the diet......Coloration is produced from both red pigments and yellow carotenoid pigments..... Northern Cardinal males possess the ability to metabolize carotenoid pigments to create plumage pigmentation of a color different from the ingested pigment. When fed only yellow pigments, males become a pale red color, rather than a yellow......Distribution and habitatThe Northern Cardinal is abundant across the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and in Canada in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Its range extends west to the U.S.-Mexico border and south through Mexico to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, northern Guatemala, and northern Belize. An allopatric population is found on the Pacific slope of Mexico from Jalisco to Oaxaca; note that this population is not shown on the range map. The species was introduced to Bermuda in 1700. It has also been introduced in Hawaii and southern California. Its natural habitat is woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and swamps........ SongThe Northern Cardinal is a territorial song bird. The male sings in a loud, clear whistle from the top of a tree or another high location to defend his territory. He will chase off other males entering his territory. He may mistake his image on various reflective surfaces as an invading male, and will fight his reflection relentlessly. The Northern Cardinal learns its songs, and as a result the songs vary regionally. It is able to easily distinguish the sex of another singing Northern Cardinal by its song alone.......Mated pairs often travel together.....Male often feeds the female as part of their courtship behaviorBoth sexes sing clear, whistled song patterns, which are repeated several times, then varied. Some common phrases are described as "cheeeer-a-dote, cheeer-a-dote-dote-dote," "purdy, purdy, purdy...whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit," "what-cheer, what-cheer... wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet" and cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what, what The Northern Cardinal has a distinctive alarm call, a short metallic 'chip' sound. This call often is given when predators approach the nest, in order to give warning to the female and nestlings......In some cases it will also utter a series of chipping notes. The frequency and volume of these notes increases as the threat becomes greater. This chipping noise is also used by a Cardinal pair to locate each other, especially during dusk hours when visibility wanes.........You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.Song of the Northern Cardinal.......Northern Cardinals are preyed upon by a wide variety of predators native to North America, including falcons, all Accipiter hawks, shrikes, and several owls, including long-eared owls, and eastern screech owls. Predators of chicks and eggs include: milk snakes, coluber constrictors, blue jays, eastern gray squirrels, fox squirrels, eastern chipmunks,and domestic cat.
July 10th, 2012
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