Hard to tell in this picture, but the beak is very orange, not red. And when the light is right that red is awfully orangy. These are hard birds to ignore!

This is the way he looked last week.

Big orange Cardinal

I’m still wondering if we are breeding a new kind of Cardinal here in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Yesterday, I met the lady of the family and today, the babies showed up. Yes, orange babies. I think we were their first eating appointment post-nest. They still had their dark baby spots and pokey, pointy feathers on their heads and necks. Meanwhile, Orange Dad is turning red, but his beak is still orange. Do I know what this means? No, but I’m not sure anyone knows what it means. I do have more pictures.

With raised crest, orange-beaked dad laying claim to the black sunflower seeds

Dad? Orange beak, but the rest of him is pretty much all red now.

He’s red now, but not the same dark red as other Cardinals. He may not even be full grown himself because I’ve seen other males in the area and they have not tried to fight which is how two normal male Cardinals behave. I’ve seen them fighting in the air like World War I fighter planes

Orange-beaked Cardinal

Next, yesterday’s shot of Mama Orange cardinal who has a really huge beak. I almost thought I was looking at a parrot with a beak that big. Maybe she is a recent nestling too? She has pointed little feathers on top of her head, so she may be very young. But look at that orange beak and wings!

Orange Mama. I saw her again today, but I just missed getting her picture

And now, introducing a baby orange Cardinal. Most baby animals are adorable, but baby birds are not very cute, especially not these guys. It’s hard to believe that these awkward baby birds will grow into either great big orange Cardinals, or big red Cardinals with orange beaks … or some combination of the aforementioned. It was one of those days when I was shooting directly into the sun. Yes, I know that a polarizing filter would help, but when you are shooting birds or other wildlife, you don’t have time to screw your polarizing lens onto your lens. By the time you’re done, your photograph has flown away. Two shots came out acceptably well. The rest were all burned out on top. There is a time of day when it’s nearly impossible to shoot at that angle, and this was it. It always seems to be right at “dinnertime” at the feeder.

So now we have two generations of orange but maybe turning red later in life Cardinals. Is this just a color aberration or are we breeding a new species of Cardinal? Well, it wouldn’t really be a new species. It would at best be a color variation on a standard Cardinal. But that’s still pretty cool. Our very own color variant. Can we name him after me? Or maybe just name them Serendipitous Cardinals. That would fit on several levels.

Categories: birds, Blackstone Valley, Gallery, Photography, Seasons, Summer, Wildlife, woodland

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5 replies

  1. That baby looks really weird… almost like a zombie bird.


    • Baby birds are not cute. Baby chickens and ducks are cute, but birds? Until they grow up, well not charming.

      We’ve got one sickly squirrel trying to recuperate. We leave him food and water. He must have been in a fight. His tail is almost naked and one of his back legs is just dangling. But somehow, he gets up here and spends hours a day eating and we leave water out, so he also get to drink. I think if we weren’t feeding him, he wouldn’t have made it. I didn’t know that squirrels fight with each other. But he does look better than he did a week ago, so maybe he’ll get better. I sure hope so.


  2. The cardinals happen to have a lovely bird song.


    • Yes, their triple “tweep tweep.” I’m told they only use it during mating season. They have a different set of trills for the rest of the year. Also, I think they sing more on sunny days. The first thing I do every morning is listen for the singing outside my window.

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