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MERICAN RED BIRDS are among our most common cage birds, and are very generally known in Europe, numbers of them having been carried over both to France and England. Their notes are varied and musical; many of them resembling the high notes of a fife, and are nearly as loud. They are in song from March to September, beginning at the first appearance of dawn and repeating successively twenty or thirty times, and with little intermission, a favorite strain.
The sprightly figure and gaudy plumage of the Red Bird, his vivacity, strength of voice, and actual variety of note, and the little expense with which he is kept, will always make him a favorite.
This species is more numerous to the east of the great range of the Alleghenies, but is found in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and is numerous in the lower parts of the Southern States. In January and February they have been found along the roadsides and fences, hovering together in half dozens, associating with snow birds, and various kinds of sparrows. In the northern states they are migratory, and in the southern part of Pennsylvania they reside during the whole year, frequenting the borders of rivulets, in sheltered hollows, covered with holly, laurel, and other evergreens. They love also to reside in the vicinity of fields of Indian corn, a grain that constitutes their chief and favorite food. The seeds of apples, cherries, and other fruit are also eaten by them, and they are accused of destroying bees.
Early in May the Red Bird begins to prepare his nest, which is very often fixed in a holly, cedar or laurel bush. A pair of Red Birds in Ohio returned for a number of years to build their nest in a honeysuckle vine under a portico. They were never disturbed and never failed to rear a brood of young. The nest was constructed of small twigs, dry weeds, slips of vine bark, and lined with stalks of fine grass. Four eggs of brownish olive were laid, and they usually raised two broods in a season.
In confinement they fade in color, but if well cared for, will live to a considerable age. They are generally known by the names: Red Bird, Virginia Red Bird, Virginia Nightingale, and Crested Red Bird. It is said that the female often sings nearly as well as the male.
Two Redbirds came in early May,
Flashing like rubies on the way;
Their joyous notes awoke the day,
And made all nature glad and gay.
Thrice welcome! crested visitants;
Thou doest well to seek our haunts;
The bounteous vine, by thee possessed,
From prying eyes shall keep thy nest.
Sing to us in the early dawn;
’Tis then thy scarlet throats have drawn
Refreshing draughts from drops of dew,
The enchanting concert to renew.
No plaintive notes, we ween, are thine;
They gurgle like a royal wine;
They cheer, rejoice, they quite outshine
Thy neighbor’s voice, tho’ it’s divine.
Free as the circumambient air
Do thou remain, a perfect pair,
To come once more when Proserpine
Shall swell the buds of tree and vine.
—C. C. M.
THE RED BIRD.
Is it because he wears a red hat,
That we call him the Cardinal Bird?
Or is it because his voice is so rich
That scarcely a finer is heard?
’Tis neither, but this—I’ve guessed it, I’m sure—
His dress is a primary color of Nature.
It blends with the Oriole’s golden display,
And the garment of Blue Bird completes the array.
—C. C. M.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)
I hadn’t realized that back in 1897 that they carried the Cardinal or Red Bird overseas to be in cages. I suppose it is no different than those here, even today, cage birds from other countries. Personally, I think they should all be free, other than places like zoos where they are breeding them to help preserve endangered species. Even those young should be released once their numbers improve.
The Northern Cardinal is a favorite for most of us probably because they are seen in so many areas of our country. We had a pair stop by for a visit to the feeders within the last week. One chilly morning, the male sat out there and looked twice as large as normal. He was fluffed up trying to stay warm. Their song is quite known and we can hear them singing and identify them by there different songs and calls.
(Audio from xeno-canto.org)
The Northern Cardinal is one of three birds in the genus Cardinalis and is included in the family Cardinalidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America.
The Northern Cardinal was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. It was initially included in the genus Loxia, which now contains only crossbills. In 1838, it was placed in the genus Cardinalis and given the scientific name Cardinalis virginianus, which means “Virginia Cardinal”. In 1918, the scientific name was changed to Richmondena cardinalis to honor Charles Wallace Richmond, an American ornithologist. In 1983, the scientific name was changed again to Cardinalis cardinalis and the common name was changed to “Northern Cardinal”, to avoid confusion with the seven other species also termed cardinals.
The common name, as well as the scientific name, of the Northern Cardinal refers to the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. The term “Northern” in the common name refers to its range, as it is the northernmost cardinal species.
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 20–23 cm (7.9–9.1 in) and a wingspan of 25–31 cm (9.8–12 in). It weighs about 45 g (1.6 oz). The male is slightly larger than the female. The male is a brilliant crimson red with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color is dullest on the back and wings. The female is fawn, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks. The beak is cone-shaped and strong.
The Northern Cardinal is found in residential areas throughout its range. Backyard birders attract it using feeders containing seeds, particularly sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. Although some controversy surrounds bird feeding, an increase in backyard feeding by humans has generally been beneficial to this species. It has an estimated global range of 5,800,000 square kilometers (2,239,392.5 sq mi) and a global population estimated to be about 100,000,000 individuals. Populations appear to remain stable. It was once prized as a pet due to its bright color and distinctive song. In the United States, this species receives special legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which also banned their sale as cage birds. It is also protected by the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada. It is illegal to take, kill, or possess Northern Cardinals, and violation of the law is punishable by a fine of up to 15,000 US dollars and imprisonment of up to six months.
In the United States, the Northern Cardinal is the mascot of a number of athletic teams. In professional sports, it is the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball’s National League and the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League. In college athletics, it is the mascot of many schools, including the University of Louisville, the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Ball State University, Illinois State University, Lamar University, the Catholic University of America, Wesleyan University, Wheeling Jesuit University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, North Idaho College and Saint John Fisher College. It is also the state bird of seven states, more than any other species: North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. It was also a candidate to become the state bird of Delaware, but lost to the Blue Hen of Delaware.
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction
The above article is the first article in the monthly serial for February 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)
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Northern Cardinal (Wikipedia)