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Cardinal Bird

cheer and nest

CARDINAL BIRD. "What cheer? What cheer?" the red-bird calls. And you always answer, "Good cheer!" For just one sight of him—red from bill-tip to tail-tip, with his handsome jet crown—makes one feel glad.

The cardinal is a bird-masterpiece. Only 8% inches long, his form is perfect and his plumage proves how many shades of red can be blended into one flash of flame. His call is not excelled in bird language and his song is as happy as its singer. He is friendly, but not bold; proud, but not haughty; gay, but not pert.

He eats nothing he shouldn't and much that he should. He is an ardent lover and a tender father.

His mate, who also wears a crown and sings a lovely song—contrary to custom among the females of bird land—has feathers of soft brown-gray flushed with red. The birds nest low in evergreen trees; the eggs, two to four, are pale gray shaded with purple and brown. When the first brood leaves the nest the father bird cares for them while the mother bird hatches a second brood. The food is wild fruits, weed seeds, and insects, especially grasshoppers, beetles, and larvae.

Cardinals are plentiful throughout the southern states and are common as far north as Iowa and New York, but are not found on the plains. They often winter in their northern homes. In former times they were trapped or taken from the nest for cage birds, but today it is forbidden by federal law to ship them from one state to another.

Cardinals belong to the grosbeak group of the finch family. Scientific name, Cardinalis cardinalis.