|Watercolor Cardinal © 2011 Sally Wickham|
I have lived on Music Mountain in central Vermont for almost forty years. Never in all those years did I see a cardinal here in my neck of the woods. I remember Peg Brainard saying that if she ever saw a cardinal at her bird feeder in nearby Liliesville, I would be able to hear her yell with joy all the way to our house and that’s about five miles. Cardinals have been expanding their range while I have been hoping. Anyway, one day late last year (2010) I looked out my kitchen window and there on the ground beneath the feeder was a cardinal.
He was a rather skinny cardinal and while one of my bird books says that cardinals are the first at the feeder in the morning, this one was always the last in the evening. That’s my kind of cardinal--not being up in the morning with all the rest of the birds, but skinny meant that I needed to take action. I have always been a lackadaisical bird feeder. It is so much easier feeding the birds in the summer but now I had a purpose--to keep this cardinal alive and visiting my feeder all winter and hopefully finding a mate and raising a family next spring. Hallelujah! I must remember to call Peg and tell her about my visitor.
Over the next few days, the cardinal disappeared. I worried that perhaps he had just been passing through. But after this first disappearance, he returned and has been a regular guest at the bird diner all winter long. I noticed that he never ate the seeds from the Droll Yankee hanging feeder--the one adored by the chickadees. This guy was always on the ground picking up the seeds that fell from above. Naturally I started sprinkling extra on the ground just for him.
Before I called Peg to inform her of this good news, her obituary appeared in the local paper. I believe that she died on the day the cardinal appeared in my yard and whenever I see one, I will be reminded of a wonderful lady who also loved birds.
Birdwords by Linda Lunna © 2011