The Bird Meme: Day 16

Day 16: Your favorite female bird


We're once again largely limited to the realm of sexually dimorphic birds, and I think it's time to give some love to a bird whose male companion hogs an inappropriate amount of it.

Thanks to its bold coloration, comfort around humans, and popularity throughout the USA (often demonstrated by its recognition as an official state bird), the Northern Cardinal gets recognition from non-birders on a regular basis--but only the male Cardinal. When you look at the logos of the sports teams that have adopted the name "Cardinals," you'll see only the scarlet head of the male. Te red-crested brown head and orange bill of the female? Nowhere to be seen. Even the St. Louis baseball squad's two-birds-on-a-bat design features a pair of all-red males:

cardinals-logo.jpg(Oddly, whether in St. Louis, Phoenix, or Louisville, the birds' bills are pretty much always colored yellow, which is not something you'll ever see in the field.)

If the female Cardinal hung around with another bird, however, I think her beauty would be a lot more apparent. The brilliance of her bill contrasts so perfectly with her black face, just as the male's does, but instead of being lost in the glow of redness, it's set against warm brown and all the more visible for it. She presents her beauties with a subtlety unknown by her brazen companion--washes of red here and there, mainly in the tail--and her fluttering flight, whether through the underbrush or from tree to tree, is endearing as well.

One thing I love about Cardinals is that you'll so often see them in pairs--one calling to the other and moving toward its partner in short flights. It's an important reminder that birds, like human beings, are organisms that work primarily as part of a set, and that no set is complete with only one kind. That's certainly the way it's always been in my house, anyway, and I'm glad to find the bird world in accord.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on September 30, 2017 1:20 PM.

The Bird Meme: Day 15 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Bird Meme: Day 17 is the next entry in this blog.

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