During our first December in West Texas, we experienced an icy snowstorm that left ice and snow in the neighborhood through New Year’s. During that time, I put out a bird feeder to help all my little feathered friends find food since their normal sources of food were covered in snow and ice. Pictured here is a male Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis of the Passerine family Cardinalidae, perched in an Elm tree covered in ice.
Here is the same Cardinal perched on dead Lantana vines near my bird feeder. Notice the ice coating the branches, and how his feathers are puffed out to trap air to insulate him from the cold. He grows his own down jacket!
He is still sitting on the Lantana branch in this image but the ice and snow coated Tree Cholla is also visible. Notice the black mask and red top knot, these characters help distinguish these fellas from other red birds.
In this image, you can see a female House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus, family Fringillidae) and our Cardinal friend munching out at the bird feeder. If you want to see the opposites of these two, go to my post about the Female Cardinal in Winter.
Cardinals are an easy bird to recognize because of their bright colors and their bold personalities. They have a distinctive call during the spring breeding season but are silent flashes of color during the winter months. Well worth the price of a feeder and some birdseed to help sustain these little feathered ambassadors during the tough times of the year.