The Northern Cardinal is a frequent visitor to the bird feeders in my mother’s backyard. Not only a beautiful guest but one whose name is so fitting for its appearance. The red plumage of the male Northern Cardinal inspired the comparison to the red robes of Roman Catholic Cardinals making for a far more interesting name when juxtaposed against the less than inspiring names so many other birds are stuck with.
And then there is the male’s black “beard,” which gives him an erudite, insightful look as if he is ready to take on any apostate.
Cardinals are and have grosbeaks with wonderfully manipulative tongues that, when they work in unison, can split open a shell to extract and swallow the tasty seed before then spitting out the unappetizing shell.
The female Northern Cardinal and the juvenile bird have far less glamorous plumage than the male, but still striking nonetheless.
Cardinalis cardinalis, indeed!