the Rookie Birder

I have watched birds all my life, but after reading "The Big Year," "Grail Bird" and especially Kenn Kaufman's "Kingbird Highway," plus Santa's timely stocking stuffer of "Sibley's 2003 Eastern & Western Field Guides," I made the decision to become a rookie birder beginning January 1st, 2006.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The backyard Cardinals

4100 block of north Monticello, Chicago, Illinois
Monticello & Berteau streets

Monday, January 9th, 2006, 3pm

Finally got around to filling the backyard and front porch bird feeders this morning, and when I checked to see who was eating the seed, I saw the hordes of European House Sparrows that always eat my feed, AND much to my delight, saw two NORTHERN CARDINALS, a female (photo Jose Navarette), note bright red bill and distinct red on wing feathers, and I believe a juvenile male, eating what the sparrows had knocked to the ground in the backyard. They would be birds #15 for the year, and Chicago bird #5.

We have had a family of Northern Cardinals in our neighborhood since we moved into our house here on Monticello on Chicago's northwest side, but to see them now that I was a birder seemed like an especially nice welcome back to the city. I believe one was a male because his feathers had more red tint to the feathers, I would guess the other was a female. Correctly, I guessed I would see more of their group in the coming days...I did. It is always such a thrill to see such brightly colored birds, even though I can't stand the MLB team that takes their name.

Nine days into my new avocation as a birder, I added two more Illinois birds to my Illinois list, and one new bird to my to my life list:

#15 NORTHERN CARDINAL female & juvenile male?

PS...does anyone know what kind of feed a backyard bird feeder like I can use that will keep the sparrows away and attract birds I would be more interested in seeing eat at my feeders on a daily basis?

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