Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cardinals Hatch

Late last week there was a flurry of activity in the rhododendron bush by the kitchen window and mother cardinal was doing a lot of coming and going instead of just sitting in the nest as she had been for nearly two weeks. I figured the babies had hatched.
So I managed to poke the camera in the bush . . .
 . . . and got a couple decent shots while mother was out on a food run.
 Mother was very protective chasing off a couple of sparrows that came by with worms wanting to feed the little ones.
The nest is well hidden behind the stalk just to the right of the bird
Mr Cardinal also got in on the act . . .
. . . keeping busy feeding the little ones
Back and forth all day
Then suddenly today in another flurry of chirping, the little ones jumped out of the nest.
We counted three in total. One made his way to the other side of the house and was looking a bit lost. So I picked him up and put him back under the bush and they were all soon back in the nest. These guys can't be much more than a week old. They did manage to flutter about a bit in little ten foot hops. But they are not quite ready for solo flights.
 Later in the evening there was an awful lot of chirping out there so I stuck my head out the upstairs window and saw one little fellow sitting on top of a flower calling for mom.
Zooming in a bit
The ground level view. Funny looking creatures at this point as they are mostly all beak.
There was one left in the nest by 7:30 pm. . . but what do I see? that has totally different coloring from the cardinal chicks. Those look like sparrow stripes, could it be? No wonder the mother sparrow kept trying to feed the chicks. Perhaps she sneaked an egg in the nest when the cardinal was not looking.
Meanwhile Mr Chipmunk . . .
Contemplates his domain.
                                                SUNDAY MORNING ADDENDUM
Mother Cardinal pushed the last chick out of the nest this morning.
But this fellow is definitely not a cardinal chick. Completely different coloring from the other three chicks.
And his flying if definitely not as well along as his siblings.
I think mom got duped in to raising a sparrow's baby.


  1. Replies
    1. It is easy to keep an eye on them when they are just outside the kitchen window. And shooting photos from less than 3 feet away makes for good results.

  2. Beautiful pictures, you must have one heck of a camera. They're really good.

    1. Hi Harry, yes its a pretty decent camera its a Lumix LX-7. A Panasonic camera with a Leica lens. Has full auto and full manual controls as well as shutter speed priority and aperture priority. So you can be as lazy as you want of have full control over it. also has up to 12 thousand ASA so you can shoot in almost total darkness with no flash. I've had it for a couple of years now and I am quite happy with it. The closeups in the nest were taken from about 12 inches away from the subject. I juts stuck the camera in the bush while mother was away and shot blindly and got lucky. The rest between three and six feet. Some of the ones taken through the kitchen window are shot through the mosquito screen so they appear a bit washed out due to reflected sunlight. This is the camera.

  3. Great shots Mike, they are pretty cute and fun to watch, I bet.

    1. Hey John, Sunday morning and the last chick, one I think is actually a sparrow chick though the cardinals don't know, just jumped out of the nest.

  4. Good photos, it's always nice when things like that happen so close and you can see them. I must go check on my bluetit chicks today and see how they're getting on. I eondr how many little struggles for survival are going on so near to us that we have no idea they're there.

    1. Hey Kev, yes it was quite a unique opportunity to watch the process from such proximity over the last few weeks. I was amazed she built a nest so close by but it is the warmest side of the house and as it has been so cold I am sure she was taking advantage of the best circumstances.

  5. Those birds hatch quickly..
    Very nice pictures...;b

    1. Hey Brian, yes I can't imagine there's much more than a week or ten days between hatching and jumping out of the nest. The Sparrow definitely was not ready to leave and he is back in the bush chirping away.

  6. Hi there fellow Mainer... I jumped over from John's blog. The Cardinal family is adorable. I have the adults still coming to the feeders, and I believe they are feeding a family. They go straight to the same area when they leave
    Your little odd ball looks like a baby bluebird, but why he would be in the Cardinal nest I don't know, since the Bluebird uses a birdhouse.

    Loved seeing your pictures.
    Sure has turned chilly and wet hasn't it !


    1. Hey Grammie thanks for stopping by. My bird pictures are nothing compared to yours. We are down in Scarborough. Where are you? Not sure what the oddball in the nest was. He certainly had different plumage, was the last to leave and seemed way behind in his abilities compared to the others. Looked rather like a sparrow to me but I don't really know birds all that well and at that point they are so different from the adults. I know Cowbirds will lay an egg in other birds nest but never heard of sparrows doing that or bluejays for that matter. And this fellow did not look like a cowbird to me. There was a sparrow that kept coming by with worms like it was trying to feed a little one and the cardinal kept chasing it away. Two weeks after the fact the cardinals have built a second nest in the same bush and are making ready for their second brood.