Did you know there are seven birds known as Cardinals?
Six of the species live in South America. I am off to Hawaii soon and I heard they imported Northern Cardinals to Hawaii. I will not get used to seeing them there. I got this search question on Garden Walk Garden Talk this week. I guess because GWGT has become some kind of cardinal expert for as often as cardinals are searched on it.
Ok I admit, this post on cardinals is pretty transparent pandering. Can you resist looking at these beautiful birds? Backyard birders can’t either judging by how many bird feeders cross America. Cardinals were limited to the southeastern United States originally and our bird feeders likely made them come northward. This would be a great answer to the question since cardinals keep expanding their northward range.
Winter may encourage cardinals to shift their range any given year, but they are non migratory birds. Typical of non migrants, cardinals have short wings. Cardinals were trapped in the South and sold in the North as popular caged birds during the 19th century. People did a lot of dumb things then. People do a lot of dumb things today as well.
Cardinals don’t molt into a dull winter plumage like say goldfinches, so it seems counter intuitive that they survive the predators in their habitat being so colorful. They have some unique ways to ensure an abundance of new generations of cardinals, not to mention ways to avoid the animals that would have them for dinner. See Why are Cardinals Red? to see some of their tricks.
Nature has a lesson to teach us when we import creatures, but it is one we keep ignoring. Just because we want them in certain places, does not mean they belong there.
Have a look at all the cardinals, I just know you want to. Some real cuties in the galleries.
All images between f8-f10, ISO 200 1/400 with exposure compensation +1.
On Garden Walk Garden Talk, see what cardinals are singing about.