The northern cardinal is a favorite of backyard bird watchers in the Northeast but how many people realize just how brave they are?
I have been feeding my squirrels and birds for a while now and am fortunate to have a couple of cardinal families in my backyard. In my last post I mentioned how appreciative the cardinals are when they receive their peanuts. Well early last week one of the cardinals began to exhibit a new behavior.
|One of my Squirrels with a Peanut|
It started one evening when I returned home from work. I had just closed the garage door when I heard a lot of loud “cheeping” and looked up. There on the edge of the garage roof stood a bright red male cardinal that began to sing as soon as I looked at him.“Oh, I know Mr. Cardinal. I’m sorry but all the peanuts are inside. I’ll come back in a little while”
I said as I began to walk to the house. Well to my surprise the cardinal began to follow me to the house, flying from tree branch to tree branch, and stopping atop the fence that encircles my pool.“Just wait right there Mr. Cardinal, I’ll go in and get you a peanut.”
I told him as I went inside. To my surprise he was still waiting on the pool fence when I returned. He immediately let loose a magnificent cardinal song in anticipation of the tasty legume.
I threw the peanut and he immediately swept down next to it then sang his appreciation. Apparently the peanut was a very large one and I had to giggle watching him trying to get a good grasp of it before he flew away. Now I wondered what he was going to do with the peanut. I haven’t seen the females much lately and wondered if he was bringing the peanut to his mate sitting on a nest of cardinal eggs.
The next morning, as I went outside to get the newspaper, I was greeted by the very same cardinal, patiently waiting for me on the pool fence. This has become a pattern and this one cardinal apparently knows my schedule very well.
Last night I stopped at the supermarket on my way home from work so the cardinal was not on the garage roof waiting for me. I did not think anything of it; I arrived home an hour later than usual so I put away the groceries, gave my cats some treats, changed my clothes, then settled down in my living room.No sooner than I was comfortable in my favorite chair, I heard a lot of very loud chirping and singing coming from the window behind me – yes it was “my” cardinal and he realized I was home. My cats all ran to the window scaring him off to the pool fence but he continued to chirp and sing to get my attention. Of course this prompted the “human peanut dispenser” to restock his sweatpants pockets with plenty of premium in-the-shell unsalted peanuts and proceed to the backyard.
Now I have heard that cardinals are very aggressive but had not witnessed this until this morning. As I poured the water into my coffee maker I looked out the kitchen window to see the cardinal near the pool. Shaking my head I continued on my routine before filling my pocket with peanuts and going outside to get the newspaper.
When I did there was no sign of the cardinal but one of my “regular” squirrels came running over to me for a peanut. I threw the peanut and no sooner than the squirrel picked it up the cardinal swooped down in a sharp fast descent, landed next to the squirrel and began chirping at the squirrel in a very annoyed aggressive tone.
It was like he was saying: “Hey you stupid bushy-tailed rodent – that was MY peanut!!!”
I called out to the cardinal and held up a superb extra large peanut. The cardinal quickly lost interest in scolding the squirrel, flew over to me and collected his prize. He struggled with the size of the shell and pecked at it a few times to create a handle before flying off with it. I then thought I should name him. Considering his aggression and willingness to take on a much larger squirrel, his displays of honor and appreciation, his proud songs, and his leadership amongst my backyard cardinals, I’ve decided to give him a Klingon name. Therefore my cardinal is now Kahless.
|Kahless on my garage roof.|
|Kahless on a tree following me|
|Kahless immediately after landing|
|Kahless with his peanut getting ready to fly off|