Northern Cardinals

Male Northern Cardinal photographed by
Bob Stanowski at White Memorial
Northern Cardinals are pretty! That's what Samantha Foster, one of our great Wamogo High School student volunteers says every time she sees one. I'm sure that all of the rest of us share that opinion, too. They may be common, but their beauty always impresses us. What is especially amazing about these birds is their impressive northward range expansion over the past 50 years. They had always been thought of as a southern species, but over the years they have moved north into New England and Canada. I saw my first one in Torrington in 1967, when it was considered to be a rarity in northwest Connecticut. By contrast, we recorded 79 of these birds on White Memorial property, alone, this past December 19th on the Christmas Bird Count. The Summer Bird Count, held this past June, produced 122 of these birds on the Property. This total included many nestlings and fledglings. The CBC total is less than the SBC total most likely due to a combination of dispersal of young birds, some mortality, and less territory being covered in less time on the CBC as opposed to the SBC. The overall population trend for this species from the long-running USGS Breeding Bird Survey is upward for this species in southern New England and New York. At White Memorial, it is easy for one to see at least 10 of these birds around the Museum Area in less than an hour. And as Bob's picture portrays, they really like our bird feeders.

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