Red Bird In the Morning
A cardinal outside my bedroom window woke me early this morning with this ardent compliment.
Singing from the mock orange bush — at this time of year, a dense tangle of bare stems — the red male cardinal seemed intent on declaring his unabashed affection for me.
Normally very little will stir me before 6 am. Even my two cats, always eager for their morning meal, do not start purring in my ear and stepping over my head this early!
But hearing the cardinal’s bold and pleasing song made me stir and smile. Who could hear a cardinal sing and not feel elevated with delight?
It’s true that both the male cardinal in his bright red cape and his female companion, more restrained in tan and pale orange, are so common on calendars and greeting cards that their beauty is almost banal. But I dare anyone with any true affinity for beauty to see a cardinal in the wild and not be moved by its breathtaking loveliness.
It would seem that cardinals understand how their striking looks could attract undesired attention from aggressive neighbors. Unlike some other birds, such as blue jays or sparrows, cardinals are careful about exposing themselves. Peeking cautiously from within dense shrubbery, they approach the bird feeders with a hesitant and rather anxious air.
But no such timidity seems to affect their singing. Their whistled songs tumble from their elegant forms in every season. It does not seem to matter whether mating or territorial claims are involved. Cardinals sometimes seem to sing for the simple reason that they cannot stop singing. Their tireless need to sing reminds me of a lovely hymn called “ How Can I keep From Singing?”
Of course I understand that this morning’s bright song from the cardinal was not really directed to me. But I have been smiling all morning from the imaginary “compliment” and that is not a bad way to start a day!