Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Last Bird/First Bird of the Year

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
My last bird of 2016 was the same as my first bird of 2017. I guess that's got a bit of kismet to it.

The species was northern cardinal. A male visited the bird feeders on December 31, right at dusk—as cardinals are wont to do. When all the other feeder visitors have gone to roost, the cardinals are still coming in, loading up on sunflower hearts to stoke their internal furnaces in preparation for another cold winter night. And they're back first thing in the morning, too—just after the first bit of light washes across the yard and things start to become discernible, emerging from the darkness.

I often hear the cardinals' loud, ringing chip notes even before I see them. It's a sound I've heard nearly all my life. In fact the what-cheer song of a male northern cardinal is the very first bird song I remember noticing. I was riding a scooter in my grandmother's driveway one summer day in what must have been 1968 or so. The cardinal was singing high in a flowering magnolia, so I associate the sound of the song with the sweet smell of the magnolia blossoms.

Now that I think about it, that's a pretty fine bird to have for the last one of the old year and the first one of the new! I hope yours was just as pleasing.

Happy New Year!