It’s no secret that we here in Ithaca had a pretty good snow storm a couple days ago, with the official tally being 16.8 inches of snow. This not only causes problems for us humans, but for birds as well – the food that songbirds can usually find easily becomes covered over by the fallen snow. They have an easy solution, however – go visit the nearest birdfeeder.
And visit they did. My backyard was alive with very active birds, while we watched from the warm comfort of the house.
I didn’t keep an accurate count of all the juncos, tree sparrows, titmice, chickadees, and others. I did take note of a rather gimpy-looking tree sparrow though, that was clearly favoring its right leg. Poor thing, we thought.
Fascinating though, were the cardinals.
Normally, my yard is dominated by a sole pair of cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) – a male and female. The storm drew out many more than that on Wednesday, however. I saw no less than 4 males, and 2 females. One of the males was constantly chasing the others, clearly unhappy with the presence of other cardinals on its territory.
Interestingly, I thought that cardinals, like most songbirds, established their territories by singing primarily, even in the winter months. Yet these cardinals were not singing, merely chasing. I suppose that the time of year, or the cold temperatures, gave these colorful birds cause to remain silent.