Cardinal of My Nightmares: August 2022

Often, when a male Cardinal is spotted during TDSB walks, I hear loud oohs and aahs.

Northern Cardinal (male)
Northern Cardinal (male)
Northern Cardinal (male)

Such a stunning silhouette! Ravishing colour! Once a visitor from northern Quebec saw one in my backyard and exclaimed “Why don’t we have these at home? We pay our taxes!”

During a recent visit to Lynde Shores near Whitby, I photographed this male:

Northern Cardinal (moulting male)
Northern Cardinal (moulting male)
Northern Cardinal (moulting male)
Northern Cardinal (moulting male)
Northern Cardinal (moulting male)

What is going on here? Quite simply, birds have thousands of feathers, and each one is subject to wear and tear that leads to moulting. Some moult gradually during the year and some, like penguins, undergo a “catastrophic moult”. They lose and replace all feathers in a 2 or 3 week period and are unable to go to sea to find food during this time.

Moulting Adelie Penguin
Moulting King Penguin
Moulting Chinstrap Penguins near rocks loaded with lichen.
Ground covered in penguin feathers from last year’s moult.
Moulting Gentoo Penguins

Other birds undergoing moult:

moulting Red-winged Blackbird (male)
moulting male Mallard
Mallard (male) in moult
Long-tailed Duck (male) showing signs of moulting to breeding plumage
Moulting male Mallards
American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)

Other birds at Lynde Shores:

Mourning Dove
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal (female)
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Wild Turkey

many Chipmunks:

Eastern Chipmunk
Eastern Chipmunk
Eastern Chipmunk
Chipmunk

NATURE POETRY

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.    – Sara Coleridge (1802–1852)

Miles Hearn

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