Anne Notations

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cardinal rule

My bird-watching father adored cardinals and kept a feeder in his crabapple tree year-round. He waged war on marauding squirrels so that his beloved red singers could eat their sunflower seed in peace. A few months after Dad died, a male cardinal swooped so low over my head as I sat on the back deck with Michael, the draft from its wings ruffled my hair. "Hi, Dad," I thought, and smiled.

Now the cardinals are calling to one another as I walk Daisy early in the cold mornings. On a birding Web site I read: "This is the time when (cardinals) begin singing their distinctive territorial call. Unlike most songbirds, both males and females sing, sometimes 'counter-singing' to each other." From treetop to treetop above our close-packed blocks of houses and schools, cardinal guys and gals fill the morning air with their whistling, a sound both piercing and seductive, the avian equivalent of "Hey, baby."

Yards and fields are blanketed with snow, and my breath puffs out from beneath my purple fleece scarf in gusts of frosty vapor. This week's forecast is for highs in the 30s and perhaps more snow.

But our New England days are getting longer and brighter, and the cardinals sing of spring. Their warbled promises remind us that beneath March's crust of frozen soil and packed snow, swollen daffodil bulbs bide their sweet golden time.


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