Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

I don’t see Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) quite as often as I see the flamboyant red-coloured males.

I don’t see Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) quite as often as I see the vibrabt red-coloured males. The female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) has a more subtle yet elegant appearance. Unlike the vibrant red plumage of the male, the female sports a more subdued colouration, featuring a warm brownish-grey overall with reddish tinges on the wings, tail, and crest. Her crest is also less pronounced compared to the male's prominent crest.

Female Northern Cardinals are known to exhibit shy and cautious behaviour, spending much of their time foraging for seeds and insects on the ground or in low shrubs and bushes. They are skilled nest builders, constructing cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, and other plant materials, typically hidden in dense vegetation for protection.

Northern Cardinals are adaptable birds that thrive in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, forest edges, gardens, and suburban areas with ample shrubbery and trees. The male bird's melodic songs and striking presence make them a favourite among birdwatchers.

Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The female Northern Cardinal often sings while sitting on the nest.

Away from backyards, cardinals are still common but inconspicuous owing to their affinity for dense tangles. I have to listen for their piercing chip notes to find where they are hiding. This one arrived in a nearby tree and made some noise.

The Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a bird species recognised by its predominantly brown plumage with reddish tinges on the wings, tail, and crest. The female Cardinal has a shorter crest compared to the male, and its overall colouration provides effective camouflage in wooded habitats.

Its diet consists primarily of seeds, fruits, and insects. The female Cardinal builds cup-shaped nests using twigs, leaves, and grass, often located in dense shrubs or trees. During the breeding season, females lay clutches of eggs, usually 2-5, which they incubate for about 11-13 days. Once hatched, both parents participate in feeding and caring for the chicks until they fledge, typically around 7-13 days after hatching.

Female Northern Cardinals are known for their melodious calls and are important contributors to the ecosystems they inhabit through seed dispersal and insect control.

Mercer Meadows Maidenhead Trail

A sunny spring Saturday afternoon walk in Mercer Meadows.

Bhavna and I had so much fun walking the “Pole Farm" loop trail at Mercer Meadows, that we went back the next day. This time we started at the Maidenhead Trailhead. The air was much cooler than the previous and with the gusty breezes, it felt cold. We moved quickly trying to warm up in the sun.

In the early 20th century The "Pole Farm" was once a key site for AT& T's international telephone call network. In recent times, "Pole Farm" at Mercer Meadows has been converted into a natural reserve with scenic trails and wildlife habitats.

We walked up to and ascended to an observation deck, a different one than the one we found the previous day. It was cold and windy. We didn’t stay long. On the way down a strong gust of wind blew my baseball cap into the field below.

17 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

We took the northern fork in the trail, walking and chatting but soon turned south taking what, on the trail map on my iPhone, appeared to be a shortcut. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But it was a mistake. The rain had swamped the grassy field and before we realised it we had no way forward. Bhavna was convinced we could find our way through. We should have turned around. After fifteen minutes of slipping and sliding in the soggy grass and at one point stepping angle deep into watery grass we made it back to a solid trail. But it was too late, my socks were soaked and my sneakers we covered with mud.

Male Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) · 17 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

At the next fork, we turned east on the trail looping back to the Maidenhead Trailhead. A few metres further down heard a recognisable bird call from the thickets of bushes. As we neared the final fork and the trail back to the trail, we passed more marker signs that documented the historical background of the relics of early international telephone communications networks built by AT&T.

17 March 2024 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2

The return trail path was otherwise uneventful. We were just minutes from the local brewery and a cold beer would have helped me feel less annoyed that the "shortcut" had mucked up my sneakers.

17 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR