Love Is In The Air

Pair of northern cardinals (photo by Steve Gosser)

14 February 2023

Now that Groundhog Day has passed and we are well on our way to the Spring Equinox, our resident birds are ramping up the breeding season.

Male northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) perched peacefully together in mid-winter.

Flock of cardinals in Oklahoma, Feb 2015 (photo from justabirdthing via Flickr Creative Commons license)

But now they chase each and pursue the females.

Male northern cardinals chasing each other in Upstate NY, March 2010 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Males who’ve established a pair bond with a female, collect seeds and feed their mates.

Male cardinal feeds his mate (photo by Bob Kroeger)

You might even see a courtship display called the “lopsided pose,” shown in detail and big picture below.

Lopsided pose (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)
Cardinals, juncoes, titmouse in snow (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)
Female cardinal in lopsided pose (at left) as male cardinal approaches (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

The male or female cardinal tilts one side of its body up, raises its wing and exposes its belly. This “come hither” signal happens quickly. You’ll be lucky to see it.

Love is in the air. Happy Valentine’s Day!

(photos by Steve Gosser, Bob Kroger, Marcy Cunkelman and from Wikimedia Commons)

3 thoughts on “Love Is In The Air

  1. Yes! Love is in the air. Just the other day I counted eight Great Blue Herons at their nesting rookery just upstream from the Emsworth dam.

    And thanks Kate for the tip on the female Cardinal display. I will have to try to catch that one.

  2. Hi all — There is a special sale on Amazon of the book “Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding Kindle Edition”.

  3. For a couple of weeks, there has been a flock of common mergansers in Washington County on a lake I drive past regularly, and a few days ago I saw a bunch of the males flapping their wings strongly and rising up out of the water, almost as if they were taking off, which I assume is a courtship display.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *