Meet Madame et Monsieur Cardinal

A pair of Cardinals have set up residency in our backyard. Taking breaks from my veranda work while sipping an ice tea, I watch how busy they are.

This little Elm tree is their home. I usually trim it in late spring, but the weather has been so unpredictable that it remained un-groomed. Thankfully, I noticed a lot of activity around the tree one day and discovered a nest at the heart of it.

If location is everything in real estate, they certainly chose an ideal one. Seconds away from a bird bath... 

and a raspberry hedge. The fruits are not ready yet, but I suspect they will feast on them later in the summer. 

Above, a large over-hanging roof offers added protection from the elements...

and below, the densely packed foliage is good bedding in case one falls out. I added chicken wire at the base to discourage predators. I've read that once Cardinals adopt an area to breed, they stay in the same area all there lives. The life span of a Cardinal is about fifteen years.

Peeking in, I can spot one little head, but the tweeting that occures when a parent shows up indicates more than one baby bird.

As it turns out, there are four mouths to feed. Poor parents, they must be exhausted. 

Daddy C

Mommy C

In the meantime, I see that vines have started embracing my lantern. 

But what do I see in the background...a big cotton tail bunny relaxing in the grass.

 I spot another one at the end of the yard.

And later in the afternoon, I spot a tiny baby cotton tail. Could this be another family?

Here is Toady McWarty hanging around the base of the cherry tree.

Checking in on my baby birds the next morning, I see that three have ventured out of the nest onto branches. It won't be long before they grow their tail feathers and fly away.

Good job Mr. C!

Good job Mrs. C!

This post was inspired by the work of wildlife photographer Erin Shipley of Stratford, Ontario:
Specializing in intimate portraits of local wildlife in their natural habitat, Erin believes that there is no place in wildlife photography for animals in captivity. Travels in North America, South America and Europe have added to her insight and Erin is dedicated to portraying the natural behaviour of each species. She also insists on having no digital alterations to substantially alter her photos. Every image reflects nature as she finds it.
Please click on her name to view her beautifully sensitive work - visual poetry, as natural as it can be. I am but an amateur.