Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cardinals Courting

I saw the cutest thing this morning. I was packing up my lunch to get ready for work when the cat started meowing at the open front door. I open the front door but leave the storm door shut so she can watch the birds. This morning she was trying to talk to the beautiful male cardinal that was sitting on the patio eating. I stopped for a moment and watched him. That's when I noticed the female cardinal in the yard.

Scruffy looking female cardinal
Now cardinals mate for life, which means that after courting they breed together each year until one or the other dies. They are not strictly monogamous in the winter but during the breeding season they are. And they always travel together. Normally the male comes down to eat while the females waits in the tree, keeping guard. Then they switch. This morning they were both on the ground. As I watched the male picked up a couple of seeds and then flitted over to the female and passed the food to her beak-to-beak. He then went back to the pile of seeds picked up more, and repeated the process. He was feeding her.

A cardinal at the feeder in winter
It looked like a tiny cardinal kiss when they ever so briefly touched beaks. I read up a bit on the behavior and just as I thought, those cardinals were courting. Mate-feeding normally takes place during courting and for much of the breeding season. It's actually a pretty common practice among courting cardinals, but I'd never seen it in person. As I watched, the male made about 6 trips back and forth from the seed to his mate. It was truly one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

I didn't even think to grab the camera this morning to take some shots (cut me some slack it was 6:30 in the morning), so I've stolen the image below from a Toronto newspaper. Sorry. The other shots are mine.



muito interesante

Cat B said...


"V" said...

Very sweet pictures.

Edelio said...

Nice photos!

Cat B said...

Thanks for the compliments. I just wish I had gotten video of them mate feeding. It was adorable.