THERE REALLY IS AN ORANGE CARDINAL IN MY YARD

He came back today. And this time, I had a camera. I took pictures and it took me hours to process them. All afternoon, actually. I have to spend some time talking about the problems of getting the color in the feathers to display properly when the pictures were taken in bright sunlight. Sunshine changes the color of feathers (and flower petals) and a lot of processing is trying to get that red rose to come out the color red you saw and not what it looked like with full summer sun on it. That is for another post. Meanwhile, here’s my orange Cardinal.

On a branch next to the deck.
Old fashion faded orange Cardinal
In a vignette, on a branch
Tail-end of the orange Cardinal leaving the deck railing. This is the real color.

I’ve got more pictures, but I’m going to be a tease about it and play them bit by bit. I really DO have an orange cardinal. It’s very cool.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all plus a big helping of cynicism.

18 thoughts on “THERE REALLY IS AN ORANGE CARDINAL IN MY YARD”

    1. He’s been hanging around for a few days, and I’ve had my camera literally on the table, with the lens cap off so I can grab any shot I get. I was just hoping to get pictures at a time when the sun didn’t burn out the color. I got lucky today. There was no sun 🙂

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    1. I had already noticed that there were a dozen colors for Goldfinches. They run a range of colors through the year, males and females. But the orange Cardinal was a shock. He’s so ORANGE. Really, the color of an oriole.

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    1. There aren’t many full albinos. Most seem too maintain eye-color (not pink). But there are quite a few albino or near-albino finches. In fact, from what I see the variation in colors of Goldfinches is pretty big ranging from almost white to olive. With and without black caps or various patches of black in other places.

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    1. They are certainly our brightest bird — along with the Scarlet Tanager, a couple of the Grosbeaks (they are all rather remarkably marked!), and of course, the Pink Flamingo (but they don’t live here, except in plastic). We have a pretty good selection of very bright birds — and each year that we feed them, there are more showing up. The orange one is special because technically, there ARE no orange cardinals. It’s an odd change in feather color, but now that I started looking, there are some amazing color shifts in every kind of bird, including ducks and swans and other shore birds.
      Meanwhile, I’m working on making feeding them easier. The arthritis finally hit my left ankle and now, I’m having trouble walking even in the house, so I’m trying to make everything easier. One of these days, we’re going to need scooters too. Even Garry has begun to limp on the stairs. My knees were bad before, but they don’t hurt. They are just weak, but the ankle hurts.

      Owen, now 51, is complaining that no one told him aging was going to be such a bummer. He has back problems now and doesn’t think they will get better. They don’t get better. There’s nothing I can tell him that will make the aches and pains go away. That’s just life. I did warn him. He thought it was a an “older person” complaint, nothing to do with him. Suddenly, it isn’t so far away anymore.

      Back to birds. I got a big container that holds seeds, but is big enough to fill an entire feeder with some seeds leftover. I can feed them in half the time if I don’t have to drag the whole bin outside. I just have to fill it and pour the feed into the feeders through a spout.

      Owen it planning to build me another flat feeder which will screw into the railing so the birds (and squirrels and raccoons and Flying Squirrels) won’t keep knocking it down. The last one fell apart after a dozen trips to the ground below the deck. I think we’ve lost at least five feeders this year. One of them was just two days old when it crashed. So whatever I buy, it’s got to be small enough to not be easily crushed when it falls — and not so expensive that when it gives up, I can replace it!

      Your finches are closely related to ours, by the way. I’m pretty sure they are similar enough that they could interbreed. Now THAT would confuse everyone!

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      1. Getting old is something that I did not expect to happen as it did, but I just try to keep my independence. Wheelchair or scooter are the best decisions I ever made and now Mr. Swiss has now also regained his freedom with his scooter. It is not fun and sometimes when I see others in my age that can still walk and have no mobility problems, but age does what it wants with us.
        I no loger feed the birds in Summer as they have enough to eat here, but when Winter comes I will have my bird feeder again.

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    1. No. I didn’t even know that birds could be born with entirely different feathers. It’s called “Leucism” or “Leukism.” All it means is “Hey, that bird looks like a Blue Jay, but he’s got a white crest. And THAT one looks like a cardinal, but he’s ORANGE.” Apparently it can happen to any bird and no one know why … or if it’s inherited or it’s something they ate or it happened in the egg. There’s a whole set of pictures of birds like this on Cornell University’s bird site. I thought I was losing my marbles. But other people have pictures of orange cardinals. And they are “off red.” They are definitely ORANGE. Like an Oriole’s orange, but looks exactly like a Cardinal.

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      1. Now that I know about it, it also explains the wide variations in color of the Finches in particular. Why some of the House Finches are REALLY red and other, more like rust. Nothing can entirely explain the bizarre markings on the Grosbeaks (there are four of them) … or for that matter, Bluebirds.

        These color shifts are natural and as far as anyone knows, they aren’t mutations because they don’t show up in the babies of these strangely colored birds. The current thinking is whatever mom was eating while producing the eggs, or … well … who knows?

        It makes birding so interesting. Just when you think you know something, a bird shows up that isn’t like any other bird your’ve seen … except it looks like one, but it’s all the wrong colors.

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