Small Animals

The Beauty of the Cardinal

The cardinal, with his bright red feathers and excellent singing voice, has been admired for ages. His presence has many symbolic meanings to people. Often it’s believed that when you see a red cardinal, it’s a visitor from beyond who is looking out for you. Other times it can be a message, an answer from the universe that only you can decode. Maybe even both. Or if you don’t believe in such things, it’s also just a very beautiful animal. I’m not talking about feathers this time.

Once a cardinal picks a mate, they stay together for life. They tend to live in the same area year round, since they don’t fly south in the winter. So if you do see a cardinal, it’s likely there’s a nest nearby. If you hear a cardinal, you could be hearing either a male or a female. This is unique for songbirds. When a female cardinal is incubating the most recent clutch of eggs, her mate will bring her food and defend their territory. Once hatched, both parents take on the duty of feeding and caring for their little ones.

Female Cardinal

Female Cardinal

The male cardinal will even dull his beautiful red feathers during this time, so as not to draw attention to the nest. Did you know that only male cardinals sport this bright red color? Females are a light brown color with bright beaks and hints of red on their wings, tails and crest feathers. Still very beautiful, but in a subtler way.

The attachment of symbolic meanings to this beautiful bird, is largely due to his alarmingly red color. Even on your darkest or busiest days, a bright red cardinal can usually get your attention. I find it strange that these beliefs are generally tied to the red cardinal; the male. So, what does it mean when you see a female?



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Julie Antonson

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