Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chirpy the Cardinal Update

A fellow gardening friend had mentioned my Cardinal bird friend Chirpy the other day, and I thought I would do a quick update for those of you that have had an interest along the way.

What a handsome lad :)  First, let me say this is not a sad story - I have no reason to believe that Chirps isn't out there somewhere enchanting some other bird feeding housewife with his sweet song and gentle nature.

"You have bewitched me, body and soul"  Well, I think that was attributed to Mr. Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice movie, not the novel - but I kind of liked it anyway.  And Chirpy certainly bewitched me!

Okay then, on with the story.  About two years after we moved to this property, I was sitting at the breakfast nook table having my morning coffee and heard this beautiful singing at my window.

Well, this was very charming I thought and when it kept happening each morning, I finally figured out - maybe I should get some birdseed and see if that's what he wants.

So, I took a measuring cup filled with black oil sunflower seeds and slowly walked out to him the next morning and amazingly he let me approach him and he started to eat the seeds. 

Well, the light bulb goes off in my little brain and I thought "hey, maybe he'll sit on my hand" 

Now, if you know about cardinal behavior, this is rather unusual.  There are a few species of birds that will readily sit on peoples hands or heads like the Chickadee (which we don't have in the area) and sometimes the Tufted Titmouse, which are two birds that come to mind.  

So I was completely surprised and filled with wonder that this gorgeous creature was so friendly!  

And I know - it was probably all because of the FOOD!  And not because he was some magical, loving forest dweller that came to visit me, Haha.  But, I do like to think of him in that way, because we did have a long and beautiful relationship that lasted for over two years.

He found himself a wife.  This is probably my favorite photo of Mrs. C.  

And they had a bunch of kids.  Here is a phone shot of Chirpy with three offspring as they have some lunch out back near the preserve.

In the two years they were here, Chirpy and the Mrs. had four broods with two to three hatchlings each time.  

Chirpy was a good dad.  I saw him many times catching dragonflies against the pool cage out back and also teaching his kids to do the same.  I'm always happy to know they weren't dependent upon me for food.

I felt honored that Chirps would bring in the little guys so I could meet them.

It was fun to watch him feed the kids and also his wife.

A couple of times, Chirpy Junior even came to the breakfast window to chirp for seed.  

This pattern went on for two years.  Even if we were gone for a couple of days, there, when we got home, was Chirpy waiting at the window for me.  

Then one day when I was out feeding Chirps we saw a red flash down at the end of the yard.  It was another male cardinal.  Chirpy went flying down the path after him and chased him away.

We saw the other cardinal once in awhile for the next couple of weeks.  Then one day Chirpy didn't come to the window any more.  This was the last photo I took of him on 2/23/2015.

This guy - THIS GUY - now patrols the yard.  Young, energetic and COMPLETELY different in every way, this new male cardinal ousted my beautiful zen friend Chirpy.

He's been here almost a year now.  Every morning at the break of dawn he starts slamming himself into the windows at his reflection, thinking he's got to fight off another cardinal.  

I hate to hear him do it, and he goes around to all the windows.  I tried a few tactics to keep him from hitting the windows, but none have worked.  I hope he doesn't end up hurting himself.

I see him at the birdfeeders and he does have a wife.  Gosh, I sure hope it isn't Chirpy's wife - aaaargh!  But I haven't seen any youngsters around.

He acts just like all the other cardinals I've ever seen.  Aloof, independent and flighty.  

It really makes me realize just how special Chirpy truly is.  Every day when I take the birdfeeders out, I think of Chirpy and wish him well - wherever he may be...


Kate R said...

Aww! Lynn this was such a sweet story. Really beautiful photographs too! I didn't actually realize that Mr Chirpy had not been seen in a while - I'm sure he is probably fine but he obviously got ousted by that younger and flashier Cardinal. How naughty of him if he stole Chirpy's wife too! I wonder if Mr Chirpy had been hand raised by someone at an earlier age because, you are right that it isn't normal that he would be that friendly. Lovely story!
- Kate xx

Leslie Kimel said...

Wow, this is the best story. It's so neat that you got to know Chirpy so well and observe him so closely. How rewarding that must have been. Your pictures of him and his family are absolutely fabulous (I love the one of Mrs. C with the bougainvillea). Thank you so much for this wonderful post!

Janice Taylor said...

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful story! You were so blessed to have him and his family share your space. Just wonderful that he ate from your hand. All the male cardinals around my garden are wicked mean, except during mating season or while caring for their fledglings. Your photos are exquisite, as always. I particularly love your header picture. Thanks for sharing your awesome story. _ Janice

Susan said...

I absolutely love your story. How lucky for you to have had this experience, and I can see how sad you would be to lose him. I'm sure you're right that he and the Mrs had to find a new territory. I'll bet he misses you, too! I'll bet that he was hand raised by someone and it's nice to know that he was able to take care of himself. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.