Love is in the air today so of course the beautiful bright red Northern Cardinal seemed the obvious thematic choice for a post on Valentine’s Day!

Cardinals will start with courting behavior in late winter. I haven’t heard any in my neighborhood yet but have been told of some already singing on the west end of the island of Montreal. This particular photo shows the courting ritual of the male bringing the female some food. Just like with us humans, dinner and romance seem to go together for birds as well!

Watching them go through their ritual wooing, one realizes how vulnerable birds are during mating season. These two lovebirds were perched on a large branch that had fallen on the ground below my feeders last winter. Unlike the chickadees, woodpeckers and some of the other species that visit my feeder, I normally have to sneak up and stay hidden at a distance from the cardinals if I want to photograph them. However, on the day I got this shot I was able to get within two feet and they never bothered about me whatsoever. Seemingly oblivious to what was going on around them, the male kept going back and forth to the feeder for sunflower seeds for quite a while. The female remained on the branch and waited for him to return with seed after seed, her beak agape as he approached. Eventually they flew off to do whatever it is that birds do after a romantic meal. Now, had I been a cat, I wonder if the outcome of their date might have ended differently!

Wondering how to attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard?

Cardinals will eat sunflower and safflower seeds on the ground or from a hanging tray or other feeder. A birdbath is always a good idea to attract birds in general, so a heated version in the winter will be a popular pit stop for the avian residents in your neighborhood.

Read more about cardinals in this blog post about the Cardinalae family

For more info on what to feed birds, check out our web resource here . There’s also lots of great info on the Project Feederwatch site.

Come count the birds at the Arboretum on February 18th for the Big Backyard Bird Count!

Looking for something to do on the week-end? Come celebrate the Big Backyard Bird Count with Bird Protection Quebec at the Arboretum. It’s a great citizen science event for all ages and levels of birding experience. Find the details here.