The Northern Cardinal, the Blizzard, and the Peanut

We’re having a blizzard today, possibly a foot of snow or more by tomorrow morning. I’m not complaining, though. I get to spend the day on the porch watching the birds at the feeders. This is the kind of weather that keeps the feeders busy.

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There are lots of Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Goldfinches – but it’s the Northern Cardinals who keep drawing my attention. They go to great lengths to extract peanuts in the shell from my feeder.

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This makes me happy, as I had worried that the Cardinals would go missing once I stopped putting out sunflower and safflower seed. I stopped because sunflower and safflower attracted great voracious hordes of English sparrows who would eat everything in their path. English Sparrows love peanuts, but they can’t handle peanuts in the shell. Fortunately, the Northern Cardinals are not so easily deterred, and I am glad to reward their perseverance.

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Doesn’t it look like he is balancing himself with one wing? These feeders are not really made with Cardinals in mind. They are moire accommodating for bigger birds like Bluejays or pecking birds like Woodpeckers or Nuthatches.

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He can’t quite pull it loose – dang!

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Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a peanut.

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Resistance is futile, peanut!

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So close!

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Hurrah! The peanut is mine! And the English Sparrow looks on enviously from above.

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The Goldfinch is not impressed, however. He’s just really cold.

Seen any good bird antics lately?

86 Comments on “The Northern Cardinal, the Blizzard, and the Peanut

  1. Nice — a good lesson in tenacity! I’m also drawn to some birds much more than others. The cardinals are standouts in your snow, so of course they draw the eye! I initially thought the red bird atop your feeder was alive as well, hahaha. ENJOY and stay warm.

  2. Great photos. I didn’t see my cardinals today until the light was almost gone. There’s more than a foot of snow where I am. 🙂

      • Thank you! We got great responses from people, I guess it’s just normal to be self-critical, but I found myself walking home from the train today listening to it and feeling pretty good about it. As for the snow, I think with the drifts I was moving almost 3 feet of snow today. And I am exhausted.

  3. The Cardinals are beautiful birds, but don’t be too hard on the English sparrows, they are becoming rare in English gardens. We should just try to save the beautiful birds (or animals). The earth has need of them all!

    • I have a squirrle baffle on the pole that works pretty well. It’s from Wild Birds Unlimited. And I found one of the few spots they can’t reach by jumping.

  4. Great photos! I didn’t know cardinals would eat peanuts in the shell. But then, I still put out sunflower seeds, which are much easier for them to manage.

    • I didn’t know it either until I started putting them out in this feeder. Sunflowers are easier all around. and attract a wide variety of birds. If it weren’t for the English sparrows I would put them out.

  5. The hordes come here. Ugh… I love your pictures of the cardinal getting a peanut. I love action shots of common birds. It is so much more interesting that a portrait shot that has been done again and again. I hope you get to stay home today and watch your peanuts disappear.

  6. I didn’t realize goldfinches remained in the Midwest during the winter. I thought they all headed south.

  7. Mr. Cardinal certainly deserves his prize. Glad to see the Goldfinch is eating well too. Freezing weather is hard on all birds, but especially difficult for the smallest.

  8. Great pictures, and what an entertaining feeder!
    We’re facing the same snow this morning. I guess winter still has a way to go.

  9. Wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing. I

    I’m about 5 hours south of you and was hoping for the 5-9″ of snow that was forecast but sadly we only got rain. Still, my cardinals were waiting on me this morning to fill the feeder. 🙂 I do so enjoy the birds.

  10. So many little brown birds everywhere that a colorful one really stands out. We have no cardinals, but several little yellow birds and some colorful hummers serve the same purpose. I do envy you that flash of red.

  11. That looks seriously cold Jason, your cardinals are very striking especially against the snowy backdrop. We have just one female house sparrow visiting our garden, what I would give for her to nest here this Spring. I’ve read the decline here, 10 million less birds than 25 years ago is due to diminishing nesting sites and a decline in insects as a food source for sparrows. Whats happening over there that Sparrows are thriving?

    • Where do you live, Julie, that you don’t have House Sparrows? They thrive, above all others, where I live, NW of Chicago.

      • I live about 50 miles outside of London in the UK. The House Sparrow population has fallen 60%. Studies have shown one cause is that chicks are starving due to lack of invertebrates as a food source. I had assumed there is a similar useage of pesticides in the UK as America and would like to understand why House Sparrows are so successful where you are but are in serious decline here and are now listed as a red status bird. In my own garden I garden organically, and provide as much habitat help as possible but still rarely see house Sparrows.

    • Surprised that house sparrows have difficulty nesting in the UK. Here they’ll nest in lots of places, notably the rain gutters along our house.

  12. You made my day with the photos of your Cardinal friends. I love Cardinals and almost never see them. So thank you for the treat (no pun intended). We have an ornamental crab apple, and it attracts robins this time of year. You can go days without seeing any and then all of a sudden there are 30-40 out there, and I find myself just standing at the window watching them.

  13. That feeder is so cool Jason!!! I would really like one like that! My favorite photo is the one with his wing up!! Looks like he’s waving! Have a great week! Nicole

  14. Really nice photos. It is a beautiful bird. I like that feeder with peanuts. We also have snow and frost, so the birds here are also very hungry. I wish I could get good pictures of the birds feeding here.

  15. Just love your cardinals, Jason, and was amazed to see them on Hawaii at Donna’s blog. We see some funny scenes too at our feeders and they sort of carry us through the cold times.

  16. What a lovely post, I must say I really enjoyed it. Even your sparrow is adorable hovering there! The cardinal is such a gorgeous little bird….how lucky you are, I wish we had a few of those in the rescue.xxx

  17. Gorgeous bird and pics Jason. I could watch the birds all day long. Sparrows aren’t as fond of the sunflower hearts here and only go to them as a last resort.
    Thankfully the sparrows are not in as much of a decline here in Scotland as they are in the south of England.

    • I’m surprised to hear that about the sparrows. Although here what we call English Sparrows or House Sparrows are actually finches. I wonder if we are talking about the same bird?

  18. Great activity for a blustery day. We don’t have bird feeders due to our feline companions but I do enjoy watching birds in the trees. We have an assortment of bluejays, woodpeckers, crows, chickadees and starlings to keep us company. No cardinals this far north, I have to enjoy them virtually.

  19. Very, very cute Cardinal pics. The little guy really is persistent. I saw the snow you have been getting from here in Maui on the news, and our area has had the same. I am glad to be missing the snow, but airlines are canceling flights I heard. It won’t be too bad to be stuck in Seattle though.

  20. Now that is quite a trick….we had 2 ft of snow and through it the woodpeckers were at the suet feeders…amazing to watch them hang on and swing in the 50 mile an hr gusts.

  21. I love the way the sparrow and the junco are observing from above. Yay, cardinal! That was a crazy blizzard. We drove through the snow and ice the night before, and got to the suburbs before the worst of it hit on Sunday. Then we were stuck until Monday. Crazy.

  22. Poor little goldfinch! But the cardinal’ acrobatics are well caught by you. Why are the sparrows ‘English’? Is there no native American sparrow? And when did the English ones arrive?

    • They are called English sparrows in North America. Why they are called English and when they arrived here I’m not sure. They are an Old World Sparrow and considered a different grouping of birds from the New World Sparrows. Native sparrows I see in my garden include the white-throated and white-crowned sparrows, but there are many other North American sparrows.

  23. Wow, are you still under that thick cover of snow? I love all the species that fly in your garden thay have an exotic look, yet they can stand very well the snow, hu?

  24. Love this feeder! Maybe I should get one of these and try it. I haven’t seen many cardinals at the feeders here this year–every time I fill them up, they’re covered with sparrows.

  25. How fun watching them work at it. Glad they were persistent and able to figure it out. Are they able to then shell the peanut (I think those are in the shell)? Love the feeder, too.

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