While working on trimming our hedges, I noticed a nest with three very young baby Cardinals in it. I knew they were Cardinals because a female and male Cardinal kept flying back and forth to the nest to feed the young ones. I also included photos of the suspected parents in this project.
My IPad is the first of three products that I am linking to “Project Baby Cardinals”. I took all these photos with my IPad, granted very carefully.... the Cardinal Mom did a lot of squawking if I got too close to the nest when I took pictures. She appeared to get more comfortable as the days passed, but the Dad dive-bombed me a few times (otherwise I'd have more pictures). I also knew I had to be careful since I'd heard a nest can be abandoned if the parent birds think a human has “contaminated” it.
The second product I'm linking to my “Project Baby Cardinals” are my beloved Nike tennis shoes. I can quickly, and quietly, sneak up on the nest with my IPad in hand - thanks to the stealthiness of my all-amazing Nike's. With the Dad Cardinal poised to attack, being quiet was extremely important.
The third and final product I'm linking to “Project Baby Cardinals” is moss from the huge oak trees in our yard. The Mom Cardinal used moss as her primary ingredient when she built her nest. Look closely at the photos - without moss - there wouldn't be much of a nest. The second file of photos has a picture of one of our big oak trees where the Mom Cardinal may have obtained the moss for her nest.
Good News: We have seen who we believe are the three little ones hopping around in our back yard with the beautiful red Dad. They appear healthy and happy. Witnessing them growing up and seeing the parent birds nurture them was a fantastic experience.
My research taught me that instead of the bright orange beak both adults flash, a young cardinal's beak will be dark. Sometimes very dark, almost black, and sometimes lighter and tannish. But it is not orange!
I also learned that both male and female sing all year round. Females sing from their nest to tell the male when to bring food. The pair shares some melodic phrases but the female has a more elaborate song, which is unusual in singing birds. The melody is pleasant and it resembles a whistle, but sometimes they make more mechanical “clinks”. As cardinals do not seem to need a lot of sleep, you may hear them singing in the morning well before sunrise. (And we did!)
Since cardinals do not migrate, they live their entire lives within one or two kilometer (0.62 miles -1.24 miles) radius of where they were born. This means we might keep seeing our three “little” ones around our block. Plus, cardinals are known to live around fifteen years!