Tag Archives: Cardinals

All kinds of backyard birds

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Backyard Birding.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Almost all the birds I see in the backyard are fairly common, but no less interesting for that.

Dawn chorus

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Awakening.’ See more offerings here.

Around here, awakening is usually courtesy of the dawn chorus. That occurs when the birds themselves awaken and announce to the world that they made it through the night. Pretty much every bird species that lives within earshot takes part, but there are some standouts.

Roosters (above) are the traditional greeter of the new day and that’s true here, though it has to be noted that they’re equally likely to sound off at any time of the day or night. This neighborhood used to be rooster-free for several years. Then one wandered in from across the road and now there are several in the vicinity. One in particular keeps trying to make my yard part of its territory. I am resolved to prevent this.

Gray francolins (right) are smaller than roosters but might be even louder. Their call has a little wind up before soaring to full screech. It gets people’s attention at any time of day, but at 5:30 in the morning it’s more effective than mainlining caffeine.

The northern cardinal (below) is a smaller bird still but, from its typically high perch, its variety of powerfully-sung songs tend to ride over everything. But rest assured, the other birds contribute, from the red-billed leiothrix, to Japanese white-eyes, to an assortment of finches, they make sure that I’m up to greet the sunrise, whether I want to or not.

Yellow-billed cardinal on a rock

Yellow-billed Cardinal

Yellow-billed Cardinal on a rockThis week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Something Red.’ (See more offerings here.) I had a few bird photos that fell into that category, but I chose these yellow-billed cardinal photos for their name.

When I’m out on walks, I’ve run into people who ask me about the name of the little bird with the red head. No one has ever asked me about the name of the little bird with the yellow bill, but that’s the feature that gives them their name. I guess it’s because other cardinals have red heads so calling this one a red-headed cardinal would lead to confusion.

I thought this one, seen on the beach at Pololu, looked particularly dapper.

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.

Birds bathing

Birds bathing in a pond at Place of RefugeBirds bathing in a pond at Place of Refuge

Two Japanese white-eyes and a yellow-billed cardinal take a dip in one of the ponds at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, also known as Place of Refuge. The ponds are very popular with birds and it’s a good spot to sit and watch them for a while.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Birds bathing in a pond at Place of Refuge