Anywhere around St. Louis watching cardinals means the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds have a large fan base.
Baseball Cardinals aside, my backyard is hosting flocks of cardinals for the winter. The birds live here all year, but are most noticeable over the winter because their bright red contrasts so well with the dull winter colors around them.
Like many other people we put up a bird feeder. Our feeder is a simple platform under a tin roof. The sunflower seeds are in an old rectangular metal cake tray. The scratch feed is in a small plastic dog dish. A suet cake is in a homemade wire basket. A lump of peanut butter is on a half brick. Water is in an old enamel pan without a handle. The array goes out in the morning and comes in at dark.
Shortly after dawn the birds begin to arrive. They are little more than dark shapes in the trees. As the sun rises, watching cardinals decorate the trees with their bright colors and search the ground for leftover seeds distracts me from making breakfast.
As soon as the seeds are put out, the feeder is filled with the cardinal crowd. More wait their turns sitting in the old apple tree. Others stand on the roof peering over to see if they can sneak in.
Food is serious business for birds over the winter. They must eat a lot to keep themselves warm as well as active. In cold and snowy weather the sunflower tray empties by noon and is refilled.
Watching cardinals working on the seeds is fun. Watching other birds sneak in, hang off the suet, climb the feeder poles, swoop by to grab a seed and fly makes washing dishes take more time as the kitchen window affords a great view. No wonder so many people enjoy feeding the wild birds.
Feeding wild birds is written about in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.