My wife, the Beautiful AP and I were outside checking on the damage that some fallen branches had caused on our property due to the storm Isaias. I am on one side of our house; she is on the other side of our house.
A fence was hit with a large branch right near the bedroom side of the house. “There’s a totally broken fence over here,” I shouted. “Destroyed the fence and just missed the bedroom by about a foot too.”
“There’s Shweetie asking for food over here,” she shouted.
“Shweetie was on the deck’s railing yesterday asking me for food,” I shouted back. I did give him some seeds yesterday.
We named him Shweetie because almost all Cardinals are shweeties. But this one was our special one.
“Hi Shweetie,” laughed AP.
I went around to that side of the house and sure enough there was Shweetie, the Cardinal, standing on our gutter looking down at us and squawking.
But we needed to check the house so we walked around it. Shweetie followed us around the whole house. He was on the gutters and we were on the ground. Shweetie made sure we were always within sight and sound.
“We have to feed him,” said AP. So when we got to the deck at the back of the house, AP went inside and brought out some seed. Shweetie was on the railing, waiting patiently, about five feet from us. I was talking to him; asking him about his day and how his family was getting along.
When he saw AP approaching with the bowl of food he hopped onto the branch of a nearby bush. Although Shweetie knew us from weeks of contact, since we’d talk to him gently as if he were a member of our household, he was a wild bird and still a bit leery of us.
Shweetie was not like the pigeons in New York City or the gulls in almost all shore towns; such birds have little fear of people. In fact, they will steal food right from your hand you if you aren’t paying any attention.
The Beautiful AP and I sit on our deck almost daily during the COVID shutdown and one day he joined us. Now after months of his daily visits we have met his whole family consisting of Mrs. Shweetie, and his three juvenile daughters.
Shweetie feeds them in the bushes, trees and right on the railing of our deck. He spends hours eating seeds and then regurgitating them into his children’s beaks. The children quiver when he approaches them. Interestingly enough, Mrs. Shweetie has not done any feeding. She is also more skittish than Shweetie, but I think the juveniles take us as part of the landscape.
We delight in their presence and find their family meals more entertaining than anything on Netflix.
“Why don’t people have Cardinals as pets?” I asked. “These birds are absolutely beautiful. The male’s red and black coloration is amazing. Their songs are great too.”
So we looked it up. Cardinals are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Cardinals cannot be sold as cage birds as they were over a century ago.
Sadly, in the wild Shweetie will probably live only three years. In captivity he could live almost two decades.
As I write this I hear the call of Shweetie outside my window. He has a family to feed and the Beautiful AP and I are ready to help him out. It’s the least we can do for our friend.
Photos by Alene Scoblete
Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.