“What kind of a bird is that?” a friend at church asked excitedly while pointing toward a nearby tree. It was just a typical female Northern Cardinal, yet I experienced a spark of joy as I provided the answer! Not because a cardinal is an overly exciting bird, but simply because someone asked me about a bird!
Over time, things can become stale. When migration ends and we’re left with the usual summertime residents, birding can become boring. As our bird lists get longer, lifers are harder to come by and our joy wanes.
In much the same way, our Christianity can also become lukewarm over time. The joy fades with the same Bible reading plan year after year; the same pastor standing in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday; the same few members doing all the work. Church activities become just another check box on the daily to-do list. Is that you?
In the book Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, bird guide Carlos A. Bethancourt gives us a clue how to break that boredom and restore joy: “When I see the joy and delight on the faces of the birders – some first-timers to the neotropics – I often think back to my first sighting of that species, and it’s nearly as exhilarating for me as if it were my lifer as well. My excitement is in the sharing.”
The Lord Jesus commissioned us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” This command wasn’t solely for the growth of the church, but for our own sakes! Jesus knows the exciting rejuvenation and joy that we’d experience in sharing the gospel. There is nothing better than stepping out in faith and sharing your testimony with a stranger to exhilarate your Christian walk. Has your Christianity become lukewarm, stale, or boring? The joy is in the sharing!
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.
Most animals blend into their surroundings. But not the Cardinal. He flashes about in a scarlet garment heralding his presence for all to see. Why would a small bird, an easy prey, want to wear such colors? As I meditate what creation would speak, red conjures two images: the stain of sin and the source of salvation.
THE STAIN OF SIN…
Red catches our attention, and normally for something of which we must take heed. We use it on our warning signs and labels; red hangs at every intersection to prevent disorderly collisions.
In Isaiah 1:18, red is used as a bold simile illustrating the blatant sins of the people. All that they do and say is stained with the crimson of sin. Although sin may blend in as the “norm of society”, it stands out to God’s eyes. Isaiah the preacher points out this scarlet warning sign, and begs the people to heed the warning and repent.
THE SOURCE OF SALVATION…
But another profound Biblical use of the color red is that of blood. From the blood of Abel, through the atoning sacrifices of the Israelites; of the thread in the window which saved Rahab and her entire family, to the saving Blood shed upon Calvary’s cross, the entire Bible is stained red with blood.
Though normally a gruesome sight for most, the red blood of the Bible is hope; it is cleansing. The sins of the people of Isaiah’s day stand out like red stained clothing. But it is the red colored blood of the new covenant which is able to remove that stain.
“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” Revelation 1:5
Though I may be pushing things by stretching the color of a bird into a mini-sermon, I’d rather have the red Northern Cardinal remind of the warning of sin and of the hope of salvation, than to stand for a red-robed religious official for whom it is said the Cardinal is named!
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.
Jesus said: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink . . . Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
For ushering in the new year — the year of our Lord 2020 — below follows the first installment of alphabet-illustrating birds of the world, as part of this new series (“Birds Are Wonderful — and Some Are a Little Weird“*). The letter A is illustrated by Anhinga, Andean Condor, and Arctic Tern. The letter B illustrated by Bald Eagle, Baltimore Oriole, and Bewick’s Wren. The letter C illustrated by Cardinal, Chicken, and Cowbirds.
“A” BIRDS: Anhinga, Andean Condor, and Arctic Tern.
“B” BIRDS: Bald Eagle, Baltimore Oriole, and Bewick’s Wren.
“C” BIRDS: Cardinal, Chicken, and Cowbirds.
Birds are truly wonderful — and some, like cowbirds, are a little bit weird! (Stay tuned for more, D.v.)
* Quoting from “Birds Are Wonderful, and Some Are a Little Weird”, (c) AD2019 James J. S. Johnson [used here by permission].
Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? (Isaiah 63:2 KJV)
Today, you are being introduced to the Cardinalidae Family, which is the last family, in taxonomy order, of the Passeriformes Order. Since February 1, 2016, we began the journey with the first four families in More Amazing Birds. Now we have arrived at the last of the 131 families of this order. I trust you have enjoyed the journey through these many Sundays. Hopefully you have been blessed by the great variety of Avian Wonders from our Lord, their Creator. The Passeriformes Order contains well over half of all the birds in the world; around 6,000 plus of the 10,659 species on the latest update. (6.3)
The Cardinalidae – Cardinals, Grosbeaks and allies has 69 species in the family. Because of that number, this family will be presented in two segments. Growing up in Indiana, the Northern Cardinal was a favorite of most of us. It is the “State Bird” of Indiana along with six other states. [Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia] The family members are found in North and South America. The South America Cardinals of the genus Paroaria are placed in another family, the Thraupidae (previously placed in Emberizidae). Even though the family name is Cardinalidae, there are only two “cardinals” among the members.
Also known as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings, this family’s members “are robust, seed-eating birds with strong bills. The family ranges in size from the 12-cm (4.7-in), 11.5-g (0.40-oz) and up orange-breasted bunting to the 25-cm (9.8-in), 85-g (2.99-oz) black-headed saltator. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinctive appearances. The northern cardinal type species was named by colonists for the male’s red crest, reminiscent of a Catholic cardinal’s biretta.
The ‘North American buntings’ are known as such to distinguish them from buntings. The name ‘cardinal-grosbeak’ can also apply to this family as a whole.”(Wikipedia)
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) by Kent Nickell
The family starts off with 11 Tanagers in the Piranga genus, which used to be in with the tanagers, but were relocated here recently. “They are essentially red, orange or yellow all over, except the tail and wings and in some species also the back. Such extensive lipochrome coloration (except on the belly) is very rare in true tanagers, but is widespread among the Cardinalidae in the Piranga genus.
These songbirds are found high in tree canopies, and are not very gregarious in their breeding areas. Piranga species pick insects from leaves, or sometimes in flight. They will also take some fruit. Several species are migratory, breeding in North America and wintering in the tropics.”
Red-throated Ant Tanager (Habia fuscicauda) by Michael Woodruff
Next are the Ant Tanagers in the Habia genus. “These are long-tailed and strong billed birds. The males have a red crest and plumage containing red, brown or sooty hues. Females may resemble the males or be largely yellowish or brown in colour.” Following these are four more tanagers in the Chlorothraupis genus. These are the last of the tanagers that were moved to this family.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) by Rob Fry
The next genus, Pheucitcus has six Grosbeaks. Typical of the genus, they lay two to five pale bluish to greenish eggs with heavy brown and gray speckling. The cup nest is built at medium height in a bush or small tree.” (Wikipedia)
There are three Chats in the Granatellus genus; Red-breasted Chat, Grey-throated Chat, and the Rose-breasted Chat. They range from North America through Central America into northern South America. Their natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests.
We will finish this first half of the family with three of my favorites, the Cardinalis genus. Our Northern and Vermilion Cardinals and the Pyrrholixia (which I saw for the first time last year) are hard to miss with their bright set of feathers the Lord provided for them. These range across North America and into northern South America.
“He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.” (Matthew 16:2 KJV)
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)
“Written in Red” – Faith Baptist Choir and Orchestra
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19 KJV)
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Daves BirdingPix
THE CARDINAL BIRD AND THE ROBIN
“The cardinal bird,” said daddy, “is a very superior bird and will not come down to the ground. The lowest he will come is to a bush, but he never hops along the woods or lawns, no, not he!
“One day Robin Redbreast was walking on a green lawn. He stopped several times to pick up a worm from the ground, swallow it whole and then walk along. In a tree nearby he spied the cardinal bird.
“‘Hello,’ he said cheerily. ‘Won’t you come and have a worm with me? There are a number in this lawn, and the good rain we had last night has made the ground so nice and soft. Do join me,’ he ended with a bright chirp.
“‘No, thank you,’ said the cardinal bird. ‘I wouldn’t soil my feet on that ground. I hate the ground, absolutely hate it.’ And the cardinal bird looked very haughty and proud.
“‘Come now,’ said Robin Redbreast, ‘you won’t get your feet dirty. And if you do,’ he whispered knowingly, ‘I can lead you to the nicest brook where you can wash them off with fresh rain water. Do come!’
“‘I cannot,’ said the cardinal bird. ‘I do not like the earth. I want to be flying in the air, or sitting on the branches of trees. Sometimes I will perch for a little while on a laurel bush—but come any lower? Dear me, no, I couldn’t.’
“‘It’s a great shame,’ said Robin Redbreast. ‘Of course there is no accounting for taste.’
“‘Thank you for inviting me,’ added the cardinal bird politely. For he prided himself on his good manners.
“Pretty soon some people came along. At once they noticed the beautiful cardinal bird. He wore his best red suit which he wears all the time—except in the winter, when he adds gray to his wings. His collar and tie were of black and his feathers stuck up on top of his head so as to make him look very stylish and fine.
“‘Oh, what a wonderful bird!’ said the people. Mr. Cardinal Bird knew they were admiring him, of course—and so did Robin Redbreast. No one had noticed him, but he didn’t care, for he knew Mr. Cardinal Bird was by far the more beautiful, and a robin hasn’t a mean disposition.
“Well, when the cardinal bird heard the praise he began to sing—a glorious high voice he had, and he sounded his clear notes over and over again. Then suddenly he stopped, cocked his head on one side, as though to say,
“‘And what do you think of me now?’
“From down on the ground Robin Redbreast had been listening. ‘Oh, that was wonderful, wonderful!’ he trilled.
“‘Listen to that dear little robin,’ said one of the people. ‘I must get him some bread crumbs.’
“When the bread crumbs were scattered over the ground, Robin Redbreast invited the cardinal bird down again thinking they were for him! But the beautiful, proud bird would not come down, and the people were saying, ‘After all there is nothing quite so nice as a dear little robin.'”
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) by Ian
When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NKJV)
Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. (1 John 2:16 CEV)
I think our Cardinal friend in this story was just a little bit too proud. Our friendly Robin was trying hard to offer the Cardinal a good meal and to encourage our Red bird. Do we act more like the Cardinal or the Robin?
(Also: Cardinals in real life do not show false pride.)
Red Bird – Northern Cardinal for Birds Illustrated
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. February, 1897 No. 2
THE AMERICAN RED BIRD.
MERICAN RED BIRDS are among our most common cage birds, and are very generally known in Europe, numbers of them having been carried over both to France and England. Their notes are varied and musical; many of them resembling the high notes of a fife, and are nearly as loud. They are in song from March to September, beginning at the first appearance of dawn and repeating successively twenty or thirty times, and with little intermission, a favorite strain.
The sprightly figure and gaudy plumage of the Red Bird, his vivacity, strength of voice, and actual variety of note, and the little expense with which he is kept, will always make him a favorite.
This species is more numerous to the east of the great range of the Alleghenies, but is found in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and is numerous in the lower parts of the Southern States. In January and February they have been found along the roadsides and fences, hovering together in half dozens, associating with snow birds, and various kinds of sparrows. In the northern states they are migratory, and in the southern part of Pennsylvania they reside during the whole year, frequenting the borders of rivulets, in sheltered hollows, covered with holly, laurel, and other evergreens. They love also to reside in the vicinity of fields of Indian corn, a grain that constitutes their chief and favorite food. The seeds of apples, cherries, and other fruit are also eaten by them, and they are accused of destroying bees.
Early in May the Red Bird begins to prepare his nest, which is very often fixed in a holly, cedar or laurel bush. A pair of Red Birds in Ohio returned for a number of years to build their nest in a honeysuckle vine under a portico. They were never disturbed and never failed to rear a brood of young. The nest was constructed of small twigs, dry weeds, slips of vine bark, and lined with stalks of fine grass. Four eggs of brownish olive were laid, and they usually raised two broods in a season.
In confinement they fade in color, but if well cared for, will live to a considerable age. They are generally known by the names: Red Bird, Virginia Red Bird, Virginia Nightingale, and Crested Red Bird. It is said that the female often sings nearly as well as the male.
Two Redbirds came in early May,
Flashing like rubies on the way;
Their joyous notes awoke the day,
And made all nature glad and gay.
Thrice welcome! crested visitants;
Thou doest well to seek our haunts;
The bounteous vine, by thee possessed,
From prying eyes shall keep thy nest.
Sing to us in the early dawn;
’Tis then thy scarlet throats have drawn
Refreshing draughts from drops of dew,
The enchanting concert to renew.
No plaintive notes, we ween, are thine;
They gurgle like a royal wine;
They cheer, rejoice, they quite outshine
Thy neighbor’s voice, tho’ it’s divine.
Free as the circumambient air
Do thou remain, a perfect pair,
To come once more when Proserpine
Shall swell the buds of tree and vine.
—C. C. M.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Aestheticphotos
THE RED BIRD.
Is it because he wears a red hat,
That we call him the Cardinal Bird?
Or is it because his voice is so rich
That scarcely a finer is heard?
’Tis neither, but this—I’ve guessed it, I’m sure—
His dress is a primary color of Nature.
It blends with the Oriole’s golden display,
And the garment of Blue Bird completes the array.
—C. C. M.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)
I hadn’t realized that back in 1897 that they carried the Cardinal or Red Bird overseas to be in cages. I suppose it is no different than those here, even today, cage birds from other countries. Personally, I think they should all be free, other than places like zoos where they are breeding them to help preserve endangered species. Even those young should be released once their numbers improve.
The Northern Cardinal is a favorite for most of us probably because they are seen in so many areas of our country. We had a pair stop by for a visit to the feeders within the last week. One chilly morning, the male sat out there and looked twice as large as normal. He was fluffed up trying to stay warm. Their song is quite known and we can hear them singing and identify them by there different songs and calls.
The Northern Cardinal is one of three birds in the genus Cardinalis and is included in the family Cardinalidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America.
The Northern Cardinal was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. It was initially included in the genus Loxia, which now contains only crossbills. In 1838, it was placed in the genus Cardinalis and given the scientific name Cardinalis virginianus, which means “Virginia Cardinal”. In 1918, the scientific name was changed to Richmondena cardinalis to honor Charles Wallace Richmond, an American ornithologist. In 1983, the scientific name was changed again to Cardinalis cardinalis and the common name was changed to “Northern Cardinal”, to avoid confusion with the seven other species also termed cardinals.
The common name, as well as the scientific name, of the Northern Cardinal refers to the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. The term “Northern” in the common name refers to its range, as it is the northernmost cardinal species.
The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 20–23 cm (7.9–9.1 in) and a wingspan of 25–31 cm (9.8–12 in). It weighs about 45 g (1.6 oz). The male is slightly larger than the female. The male is a brilliant crimson red with a black face mask over the eyes, extending to the upper chest. The color is dullest on the back and wings. The female is fawn, with mostly grayish-brown tones and a slight reddish tint on the wings, the crest, and the tail feathers. The face mask of the female is gray to black and is less defined than that of the male. Both sexes possess prominent raised crests and bright coral-colored beaks. The beak is cone-shaped and strong.
The Northern Cardinal is found in residential areas throughout its range. Backyard birders attract it using feeders containing seeds, particularly sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. Although some controversy surrounds bird feeding, an increase in backyard feeding by humans has generally been beneficial to this species. It has an estimated global range of 5,800,000 square kilometers (2,239,392.5 sq mi) and a global population estimated to be about 100,000,000 individuals. Populations appear to remain stable. It was once prized as a pet due to its bright color and distinctive song. In the United States, this species receives special legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which also banned their sale as cage birds. It is also protected by the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada. It is illegal to take, kill, or possess Northern Cardinals, and violation of the law is punishable by a fine of up to 15,000 US dollars and imprisonment of up to six months.
In the United States, the Northern Cardinal is the mascot of a number of athletic teams. In professional sports, it is the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball’s National League and the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League. In college athletics, it is the mascot of many schools, including the University of Louisville, the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Ball State University, Illinois State University, Lamar University, the Catholic University of America, Wesleyan University, Wheeling Jesuit University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, North Idaho College and Saint John Fisher College. It is also the state bird of seven states, more than any other species: North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. It was also a candidate to become the state bird of Delaware, but lost to the Blue Hen of Delaware.
Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 February 1897 No 2 – Cover
The above article is the first article in the monthly serial for February 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
Change is coming to this blog. For one thing, it’s snowing! WordPress has given us some snow for a month or so. I turned it on. How else am I going to get snow down here in Florida?
I am also getting ready to start a new series about Birds in Hymns. It is amazing how many times they are referred to in the hymns we sing as we worship in song. My list of them is getting quite long. The music for them is available and now they can be attached. That “learning curve” has also helped me figure out how to attach the sounds of birds in my blogs.
I hope you will enjoy the new series. As things are figured out, it’s hoped that Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus will only improve and glorify the Lord better.
Yours in Him,
P.S. Below is the first of the new series. Hope you enjoy it. Support pages are coming.