Saga of a Fledgling Cardinal

When I went out on the back patio after supper last night, I found a fledgling bird under our patio table. After we stared at each other for a couple minutes, it fluttered down to the yard, and then fluttered a little bit more around the yard as it uttered little yips. I had no idea what kind of bird it was, but in a few minutes a male cardinal that often visits our birdbath corner showed up and within a couple more minutes it was clear that the male cardinal was concerned about the little fledgling. Poppa cardinal flew from one side of our yard to another, and then to our back fence, uttering little yips like the fledgling yips all the while. As dark descended, I had to leave them, trusting that the Poppa cardinal would look out for the fledgling better than I could.

I went off to my tennis lesson at daybreak this morning wondering if the fledgling made it through the night. The answer came this noon as I was eating lunch after taking my post-tennis shower. The little bird was sitting on a small mountain cedar branch about ten feet off the ground just outside our breakfast nook window. Clearly, it was already a bit stronger than last evening. Within a few minutes, Poppa cardinal landed on the little branch, bending it way down in the process, but baby bird had a good grip. It opened its beak wide open, and Poppa cardinal stuffed something down into the baby’s throat, and then flew off to get more. This process was repeated several more times, and then the fledgling seemed to be satisfied. It just sat on its twig and began grooming itself while Poppa cardinal stayed nearby, moving from one branch to another in the neighboring tree.

During all this time I never saw the Momma cardinal, and I wondered about this. Checking online, I learned that after the baby cardinals hatch, Momma turns their care over to Poppa while she busies herself in building a new nest. In this way, they can raise two or three broods in a year instead of only one. Fascinating! I must say, I am very impressed with the care this Poppa cardinal is giving their fledgling! Fledgling calling to Poppa

Flegling cardinal begging to be fed

Poppa cardinal feeding fledgling

Poppa cardinal bring food to fledgling

Poppa cardinal on branch above fledgling

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