This is your 5 a.m. alarm call

Northern Cardinal in a tree

Northern Cardinal looking downA while back, I exposed roosters (here) as the frauds they are when it comes to greeting the dawn. Yes, they crow at dawn, but only because they crow, randomly, 24/7.

But the dawn chorus is not a myth. It’s the time when birds that have managed to get a decent night’s sleep, despite the roosters, wake up and let other birds know that they made it through the night and this is still their territory. Around here, there’s both a great variety and large number of birds singing in the chorus, but the chorus leader is this bird.

At this time of year, this northern cardinal cranks it up around five in the morning. He’s almost always in this spot, high in a tree, about 60 feet from the house and, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he has an amplifier and speakers up there, too. The northern cardinal has a loud and piercing voice, as well as a wide variety of songs to use it on. They include, ‘pichooey, pichooey, pichooey,’ ‘puertorico, puertorico, puertorico,’ and the ever popular ‘party, party, party, party.’

Sometimes, these calls get a response from another cardinal in the hedge about 10 feet from the bedroom window, which is startling to say the least, especially at that time in the morning when I’m not exactly at my best.

While I confess to having muttered a few less-than-complimentary words at the chorus, and this bird in particular, I’m grateful for the numbers and variety of birds around here. So I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way. And just lately, this cardinal hasn’t been on his appointed perch in the wee hours. I’m kind of worried.

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