My Favorite Cardinal

There’s a tree in my back yard that’s an incredible social network hub – the original Twitter. At any given moment there are at least twenty species of colorful birds – finches, sparrows, blue birds, cat birds, woodpeckers and cardinals, among others – tweeting each other in a rhythmic serenade of warbling and whistling, some more eloquent than others.

The reason for this particular cacophonous gathering point is a high tech (3.0) protected bird feeder that lets the small and medium-sized birds partake, while keeping the hawks, crows and other larger fowl (who prefer larger prey anyway) – and the chipmunks, squirrels rabbits and other hackers out.

Of all the species that have joined this eco-network, the bird I most follow (other than humming birds) is a male cardinal in his bright red crested habit. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching his less colorful soul mate as she aggressively pushes her way past the yellow finches, but the cardinal, in all his feathered finery and the black goatee around his beak, is such exquisite design – nature at its most intelligent. I am in awe as he leaves his perch on fence or bush, winging his way to the tree and then down to the feeder, his red lights up all around him.

There is a runner-up, however, who I call Woody II (a red bellied woodpecker, of course); he is almost as handsome, with his red head, black eyes and yellow face atop gray body feathers (I have yet to see his red belly). As design, though, he’s just a little to large (not his fault) and makes too much noise as he pecks away trying to find a meal with his extra long sticky tongue.

I’ve tried to friend the cardinal, but he just flies away. So I’ll recommend him instead.

13 thoughts on “My Favorite Cardinal

  1. Karen Cronin

    I LOVE cardinals as well! And hummingbirds too. I have a designer friend who says that dalmations are “graphically correct” and I think this way about cardinals. I have many of them in my yard here in Nashville. I also agree with Joanna Kuczek who gives you credit for finding good design in so many things. Thanks Steven.

  2. Annette Schaich

    Birds in the backyard add peace to everybody’s life, in particular in Manhattan. I can only agree to your “favorite” choices, though the mocking bird has a great repertoire and is interesting to watch in its evict to attack the crows via unrelenting attacks with vicious sounds.

  3. Jennifer Blanco

    I LOVE the cardinal! Living on the north side of Houston I’d see one swoop across the road in front of me every other day. We also had a small family at our old office. I do have to say, that the female – with her light brown body, hit of red on wings, and bright orangish beak – is my favorite to watch.
    What feeder is it that you have which blocks big birds and squirrels etc? Is it something with a baffle?

  4. charisse

    Yes, the birdfeeder!!!! I am at war with my squirrels. I also have cardinals, but my mated pair constantly peck at my large windows all around the house, starting at 6am and for most of the day. I don’t think they even had time to raise babies this year!

  5. Andrew Layton

    I’d also be interested in said bird feeder, as I am usually plagued with squirrels that can drain a fully-loaded bird feeder in a day. Perhaps a Daily Heller on bird feeder design is in order?

  6. Bruce Green

    OK, so this “daily heller” caught my attention because I fill a couple of feeders almost daily in my Madison, WI backyard. I’m wondering though, what type/brand feeder are you referencing ( high tech (3.0) protected bird feeder) here?

  7. Abigail Steinem

    When it comes to graphic design and our flight friends, I always think of Charley Harper. His depiction of birds, and most notably the cardinal is just sensational! I suggest that if you don’t own his books, then they would be a great addition to your library. Great post!