The cardinal (Richmondena cardinalis) is in the family Fringillidae.
The non-migratory cardinal is a member of the largest family of North American birds, which comprises grosbeaks, finches, sparrows and buntings. These birds have short, heavy, conical beaks, good for breaking seeds.
The cardinal is rarely seen without its mate, and even in winter they hang out together, although when spring comes, they show more renewed tenderness by feeding and singing together. The female cardinal sings along with the male, a rare trait in songbirds.
Their songs are varied and colorful, consisting of a series of whistles and repetitive phrases. Whit ti-u ti-u ti-u can be one of them, along with Severe severe severe severe severe, or pur-dee pur-dee- pur-dee pur-dee (followed by kissing sounds). I love to make up little ditties to the cardinal's songs. I've heard him sing "Joe Peter, Joe Peter, Joe Peter, Joe Peter!" and then, "It figures, it figures, it figures, it figures," followed by ti-u, ti-u, ti-u.
Young cardinals have been found to sing as early as three or four weeks of age. Fledgling plumage is duller and browner than their mother's color.
The male is a fierce defender of his territory. We have a male cardinal that repeatedly attacks his reflection in our bathroom window, near his favorite tree. He'll fly into the window, determined to drive away his "competitor."
Of all the birds I missed when I resided in the West, the cardinal was at the top of the list. To listen to them sing is truly heavenly.
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