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Started by metmike - April 17, 2019, 3:10 p.m.

For around the past 10 years, we've had what I thought were the same cardinals coming back to the same juniper bush to nest and have babies every Spring.

In the very cold days of Winter, the female will hang out under our back porch to stay warm. She's gotten into the house a couple of times when the back door opened and she went the wrong way  flying off.

However, from what I have read, it would be extraordinarily rare for 1 cardinal to live that long, let alone a mated pair............but what are the odds that 2 different cardinals would be able to accomplish this?

I will guess that we have a very long lived female with more than 1 mate. They have nested in the same bush(which is 15 feet high and the nest is only around 5 feet up this year and outside the window which has steps going upstairs which provide a perfect view.

There are 3 speckled eggs.

This is awesome. We will get to see them hatch and the parents feed the babies. The grandkids will love it and I can capture some great video.

Hopefully, it won't be a repeat of 2 years ago.

There were eggs in the nest one day, then the next morning the nest was empty. A racoon must have had a snack overnight.

The Cardinal's Nest

Male Cardinal feeding female

Mother on nest (l); Nest with first egg (r)We have 3 eggs in the nest.

By WxFollower - April 17, 2019, 3:37 p.m.
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 I had the same thing last year (May) except it was the first time I had an up close view of the cardinal nest outside a window. I warned outside workers to stay away. I scared away any squirrels or larger birds like blue jays that I happened to see nearby. There were 3 speckled eggs. The mother was very devoted and was almost always there on the eggs unless she got scared off. Even then, she'd always come back quickly. I never saw the male at the nest although I'd see males elsewhere in the yard.

 One day, there were only two eggs left. And then a few days later, the nest got emptied and torn up. That was sad to see.

 What amazes me the most is the nest, itself, and how they are able to build it!

By metmike - April 17, 2019, 6:40 p.m.
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Thanks Larry,

Yeah, I was bummed out for a couple of days after finding that the eggs were gone.

This is part of nature in the cruel world that wild animals live in but to watch the cardinals building the nest, then laying on the eggs and me getting excited, anticipating the day they would hatch(I'd already started shooting the video)............and sharing  it with the grandkids.

Sounds like you were the same way too and were helping to create the best conditions for the parents. 

This year, there are 3 eggs in the nest which looks very much like those below:

Image result for cardinals birds eggs

I've always loved birds and maybe we can feature a different bird here every day or couple of days.

By metmike - April 17, 2019, 6:44 p.m.
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Northern Cardinal Facts, Information, Photos & Artwork

Northern Cardinal Information: A Cardinal Pair on a snowy branch in winter.

The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Northern Cardinal was the first bird to be given such a distinction, by Kentucky in 1926.

Being the state bird for 7 states is the most states for any bird!!!

The Western Meadowlark is the state bird for 6 states.

By metmike - April 17, 2019, 6:59 p.m.
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Hopefully, this is what will be outside our window next week. This video is wonderful!

It's really interesting to see all the different insects mommy and daddy bring to their babies. You will note them grabbing the big white blobs out of nest. Those are called fecal sacs(poop) of the babies and they are just cleaning the nest by getting rid of those.

By 12345 - April 19, 2019, 1:38 a.m.
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Chipmunks are notorious for robbing eggs and the baby birds. If you've got Chipmunks, set out some live traps with bird seed in it. Then, take the destructful thing for a ride.

By metmike - April 19, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
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No chipmunks around here.

Funny how we often decide what animals are good and which ones are bad.

 Good/bad animals is a good topic for a new thread.

The 3 eggs in the nest outside of our window are doing fine, with the brown, mother cardinal spending lots of time on the nest keeping the eggs at the right temperature. It's dropped to 46 degrees here and is windy and raining, so I'm very concerned that this may have a negative impact on her trying to keep the eggs warm.

It's going down into the 30's tomorrow night, so she'll need to stay on the nest almost continuously until Sunday/Easter, when it pops up into the 70's.

We always have an Easter egg hunt here with the grand kids, using both sides of the house but may just use the front so as to not disturb the momma bird in the back. 

By metmike - April 20, 2019, 2:33 p.m.
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With the cold weather, momma bird is not budging from the nest like before when somebody comes down the steps and passes by from inside the house(when she flew away briefly before).

Not sure when she started sitting on the eggs. Maybe a week ago?  She was probably there for a couple of days before I noticed.

Baby Cardinals on the Porch

"Cardinals typically lay 3 eggs but they can lay anywhere from one to five.  The female does all of the incubation and she doesn’t start to sit until she has finished laying.  The eggs will hatch in 11 to 13 days after she starts sitting.  Once hatched, both the male and female will feed the young.  The male gets the extra benefit of defending the territory and carrying off the little poops sacks that the young expel. The baby cardinals are fast growing and they fledge, or leave the nest, 9 to 11 days after hatching."

By metmike - April 20, 2019, 5:01 p.m.
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 I checked just now and all 3 eggs are hatched! Yippee!

The babies look like this:

By 12345 - April 21, 2019, 7:18 a.m.
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If you are going to take pictures of them, don't use the flash on your camera. Baby bird eyes are permanently damaged by the flash, whether they're open or not.

By metmike - April 21, 2019, 2:33 p.m.
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Thanks,  I didn't know that though I'm using natural lighting on all the video.

I can only see 2 heads in the nest at the moment but the other one might be underneath. They are still not really developed enough  to be sitting up. 

By metmike - April 24, 2019, 1:34 p.m.
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4 days since the eggs hatched and the 3 babies look well. They are starting to fill the nest a bit more, getting some early stages of what will be feathers and you can see the 3 distinct bodies, with the big heads and mouths open wide to let food in vs a few days ago, when they looked almost like 1 blob in the nest and just vegetated. 

I've not seen the red male in over a week. This is very odd. Maybe he's been there when I didn't notice. 

Mommy, the first few days after they hatched stayed in the nest much of the time but is out gathering food now for her rapidly growing offspring with their unquenchable hunger. 

By WxFollower - April 24, 2019, 7:50 p.m.
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 Mike, I’m glad it has worked out for your yard’s cardinals! Mother Nature and birds in particular sure are fascinating! I still can’t get over how amazing something we take for granted, nest building, is! How are they smart enough to do that?!? Bird brain sure is a misnomer.

By metmike - April 24, 2019, 11:39 p.m.
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Agree Larry about how amazing birds are.

I'm still nervous for them. Thinking about this more, the year that we lost the eggs that I mentioned earlier, was actually the already developed babies not the eggs as I remember now.

I theorized that their peeping for food in the nest called attention to themselves and a hungry racoon climbed the juniper bush to eat them. 

They were no where close to being able to leave the nest, then one morning they were gone.  The nest was still there but empty. I looked on the ground and found nothing.

The other thing this year is the absence of the male cardinal for well over a week.  Unless he shows in the next day or so, I will assume that he abandoned his family or met with a fate that happens very frequently to birds in the wild..........some thing ate him. 

We have alot of hawks, owls and raccoons. It's possible that one of them got him.

By mcfarmer - April 25, 2019, 10:32 a.m.
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Cardinals aren’t very common around here in NW Iowa. They were my mothers favorite visitor at the feeders she had at the lake house. One morning she got up and there was red all over the snow under the feeders. 

A hawk was standing there eating a male cardinal. Now my mother taught me to shoot various guns, she was a very good shot and grew up very rough and tumble. She went to the night stand and got my fathers .38, she knew it was the already loaded and not locked up. The hawk was wise enough to fly when the window flew up and mother was wise enough not to shoot at a hawk on the fly with a pistol.

She always regretted not taking  the time to get a shotgun.

By metmike - April 25, 2019, 12:02 p.m.
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Funny how we cherish certain animals, creatures and birds but then an animal or bird that preys on the ones we cherish, is a pest deserving of the death penalty............even though they have to eat too.

By mcfarmer - April 25, 2019, 12:06 p.m.
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“Funny how we cherish certain animals, creatures and birds but then an animal or bird that preys on the ones we cherish, is a pest deserving of the death penalty............even though they have to eat too.”

It would have been considered a crime of passion.

By metmike - April 25, 2019, 7:04 p.m.
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I get it though. 

I'm guilty of taking out a couple of rabbits that were devouring my vegetable crops 2 decades ago(before putting up a wire mesh fence).

Even a cute bunny rabbit that is stealing food off the table doesn't get a pass (-:

Moles are one of the most unsavory of  the varmints. No mercy for mice and rats. 

We've had an issue with raccoons for 20 years. One almost killed our cat when she got outside but they've done alot of damage in our garage. 

I trap the ones doing damage and release them at the wildlife preserve 10 miles from here but surely they are discombobulated in their new homes. 

By metmike - April 25, 2019, 7:06 p.m.
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Papa cardinal was on the scene today with a worm in his mouth. This is great news!

By metmike - April 27, 2019, 3:57 p.m.
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The 3 baby cardinals are a week old today and they continue to grow very slowly. Actually slower than what I was expecting based on watching other baby birds in their nest in the past and the articles that I read, state that they are ready to fledge (leave the nest) in 9-11 days after hatching.

  Their bodies are sticking out above the nest now as they continue to fill the nest and they are getting some vey early feathers its hard to imagine they would be ready to fly out in just a few more days.

 I see the female alot but she mainly sits on the nest, which is strange. I've seen the male a couple of times in the area.

I've not seen the constant feeding that usually happens but when I'm close enough to see anything going on, they know I'm there and the parents often fly off. The parents are extraordinarily timid. 

By metmike - April 29, 2019, 5:52 p.m.
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The last 2 days, I was really watching close in the area of the house where the cardinals were but stayed back far enough to not scare the parents.

Both parents were actively feeding the babies(which I just didn't notice as much previously) that seemed to really grow fast the past 2 days. Yesterday, we had the grand kids over and I had them stand on a chair in a position to look at the babies. The grandkids were here a week earlier to see the babies the day after hatching.

My 8 year old grand son said: "How did they get so big so fast!"

It was great timing for them to see the babies right after hatching and right before they flew off this morning.

Today was day 9 after hatching and amazingly, they flew off this morning. I saw all 3 in the nest early in the morning and was going to wait for Deb, my wife to come down to do my daily video while all 3 birds were there. Before she came down, I looked and suddenly, there was only 1 left.

The last hold out stood on the end of the nest for at least 45 minutes before vanishing.  The parents were flying around outside and chirping loudly while the last baby was at the edge of the nest. The other ones were probably in trees nearby but I just couldn't see them. Like his or her siblings, he or she was a drab, grayish color with mottled feathers and looked nothing like either parent.

So I wondered when cardinals get their coloring?

Color Phases of Northern Cardinals

"When juvenile northern cardinals grow their feathers in the fall, their gray and tan tones slowly change to mottled light browns and soft reds."

Davis: Winter cardinals don their brightest red feathers

metmike: I'd followed baby birds from eggs to fledgling many times before, robins on several occasions but didn't do the research to learn more about them on the internet  at the same time, while experiencing the miracle in person. outside of our window.

Something that has been happening since before humans existed but now greatly enhanced by our ability to tap into more information than what is in 1000's of  Smithsonian's. 

Wouldn't it be great if everybody was able to maximize the learning potential/positives of the internet, while discarding the negative stuff?

Now that our baby birds/fledglings have left the nest, I feel a bit of empty nest syndrome. Instead of watching for the parents and checking on the babies numerous times each day..............there's just an empty nest.

By 7475 - April 29, 2019, 8:31 p.m.
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thanks for running this thread.