Cardinal in the House!

March 5th, 2007

Well… I almost titled this one Cardinal Craziness, to keep the theme going from my other post Nuthatch Nuttiness…  Yep… similar story yesterday.  I was summoned by my wife after she heard a loud “thump!” at one of the porch windows.  Sure enough, a Cardinal was lying outside on the ground looking quite disheveled. 

It was a chilly day yesterday, so I went out and picked him up… the bright red of the male Northern Cardinal is unmistakable.  The little guy’s eyes were half closed and he was “gurgling” while trying to breathe.  I brought him inside, and we noticed he was bleeding from the mouth, er ‘beak’ I mean.  I don’t know how to help a bird with internal injuries, but since I noticed his mouth was full of blood my Red Cross training kicked in regarding airway obstructions… So I held him upside down while some blood ran out his beak.  “Lovely…” I can hear you thinking… yes, but not much else to do. 

So I carried him around, and was sure he would pass on any minute in my hands with such labored breathing.  If the cats had been outside he would have been a goner for sure.  He was still breathing after about 15 minutes, so thinking that he had a chance, I knew the best thing would be to keep him warm and in a quiet place.  Back into the Rosemary plant he went, just like the Nuthatch!   The young boy so wanted him to live. I tried not to disturb it last night, but noticed that he was still alive when I went to bed.  His eyes were mostly closed, but the breathing a little better. The porch is not heated much, but stays warmer than the outdoors… I think it was in the 40’s F overnight, so I knew he would be better in there than outside. 

When I awoke and got the young one off to school, I thought “There’s something I wanted to do this morning…?”  “Oh yes- the bird!  So with the sun fully up, I went into the porch to find a chipper young Cardinal hopping about the plants and furniture giving a loud “schiip! schiip!” at me.  “Wow!” I thought, “you’ve really perked up!” 

 Male Cardinal after a night recuperating inside

Then the fun began as I tried to catch him, and he darted in and out of the plants, flying to the windows.  I got my son’s butterfly net and finally trapped him gently.  He looked good except where he banged the window the day before… ruffled feathers and a half-closed eye on the left side.  I bet his neck was sore!   But I knew he could fly then and had a chance at life- wild animals cannot really survive in captivity. 

Some have wondered how one can be a hunter, and care for wildlife and nature at the same time.  For me it is all part of the grand pace of life, and I see no incongruence with hunting and eating animals, as well as caring for them.  Hunters do not hunt simply to ‘kill’ animals, at least none that I have ever known… hunting is so much more.  Fishing equally so… there is a bond with nature and the outdoors, a temporal connection with the seasons, and a human validation for our being and sharing the harvest.  Perhaps I’ll write more one day. 

Back to the Cardinal… out we went, and as I opened the net and picked him up he flew into a Redbud tree about 50 yards away.  He sat composing himself for a good half-hour, and then when I looked again he was gone.  He has a good start… the young one will be excited when I tell him the Cardinal is flying free once again!

 Farewell my red-crested friend!

Cardinal far off in Redbud Tree

One would think I spend all my time taking pictures, watching birds and other assorted nature stuff.  I sure enjoy it, but these are just the small moments between the larger focus of each day.  But the small moments are so important!  If we don’t take some time for them, don’t we then lose ourselves among the noise of everything else?   But most of my time revolves around the endless stuff we all must do, and helping keep our personal and financial lives together.  I finished a final for one of my classes, thank goodness, and now can concentrate on the other.  I should tell you about last week, with the cats in the attic…. well, we don’t really have an attic, but we do have a backwards weather vane!  Long story…  But the boy is doing great with his swimming lessons, and started a class in Tae Kwon Do… life marches on.

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