Fireflies, northern cardinals and blue jays do not live in the high desert of Northeastern California and are among the things from a childhood in Western Pennsylvania that I miss. During a recent stay in Green Valley AZ, I was able to see northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) again.
Northern cardinals are non-migratory residents of eastern United States and eastern Mexico. In the West, cardinals extend into southwest Texas, southern New Mexico and southern Arizona.
In the East cardinals live in a variety of habitats including woodland edges, swamps, streamsides, thickets and suburban gardens. Western cardinals are common in mesquite-dominated habitats, usually near water.
The bright red male cardinal with his black face, thick reddish cone-shaped bill and long pointed crest is difficult to miss. The female cardinal is buffy brown in color with a reddish tinge on her wings, tail and crest.
Cardinals mainly eat seeds and fruits and supplement their diets with some insects.
Males, particularly early in the morning, sing from exposed perches. The female cardinal also sings, often while sitting on the nest.
It was so nice to once again see this bird that so often brightened the drab winter landscape of my youth with its brilliant red color.