Boxing Day: The gift of the cardinal in the kudzu vines

There is something akin to amazement every time I look out at the cardinals in my front yard. They perch in the dormant kudzu vines wrapped around the pine trees and hang out on the feeders. No matter how many of them I have photographed over the last 17 years, I never tire of seeing them. It was very rare to see a cardinal in the part of Texas in which I lived, and to see them every day, all day long, year round is a joy that does not fade.

The cardinals and the black-capped chickadees will be here year round. My December 2020 newsletter from Cornell Labs ran an article about how the birds that remain in the north survive winter: don’t freeze and don’t starve. The chickadee’s feet are at a temperature of about 30 F while the core body temperature is higher. The arterial blood flows to the feet from the body, warming them, and the veins carry the cooled blood back to the body core. They generally sleep huddled together in a sheltering branch to remain warm over night. When you stop to think about it, is that not a most amazing design?

In the winter, birds must take in higher amounts of nutrition in order to generate enough heat to stay warm. Feeders are an important part of that, but so is having a bird-friendly winter yard. Plants or shrubs that produce berries in winter are good options. Apparently, the cardinals and the chickadees prefer to shelter among the mix of brush and kudzu vines along the edge of the hillside.

Another important need in winter is fresh water. There are no nearby fresh water supplies (creeks, rivers) so a bird bath is needed, and of course, when it gets below freezing…On cold mornings like today (30 F at 8 a.m.) I do not use the hose and instead dump the ice and refill using a jug of water from the kitchen. It is supposed to be in the 50s today, and sunny and clear for the next couple of days. Birds and I say “Yeah!”

Scruffy took advantage of the sun to take care of her morning ablutions. The sycamore tree leaves are all gone and only the seed balls remain…looking like a forlorn Christmas tree the day after.

This entry was posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Ecosystem, Mississippi, Mississippi Cats and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Boxing Day: The gift of the cardinal in the kudzu vines

  1. peggyjoan42 says:

    I too love the large amount of Cardinals we have here in Arkansas. We have a pond and two sources of flowing water where the birds in our area drink. It is going to be a good day here in the high fifties today. Our roller coaster weather of up and down temperatures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty says:

    I’ve always enjoyed seeing the brightly colored Cardinals, but my favorite is the yellow finch! We have bird feeders set up by our side window, and I never tire of seeing our daily visitors. Enjoy your day – and your weather! Pretty nice here today, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cardinals are special every time I see them. Lucky you to see them so often. The birds must love you for bringing fresh water. Glad it is up to the 50s for you and Scruffy! Mild here – may get up to 70.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      I am lucky–and we used to think it was good luck to see a redbird and you got to make a wish. I think I might get one of those bird baths with the solar powered spray to keep the water moving. It was recommended in my newsletter. I miss those 70 degree days we used to have for Christmas in Texas. πŸ™‚


  4. socialbridge says:

    A lovely read, Suz, especially after a night of Storm Bella rocking Ireland and beyond.


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