These past few weeks we’ve been visited by a little female cardinal so she’s the #NatureDoodlewash I’ve made today. She’ll come and sit for a moment on the metal fence of our terrace and stare at us briefly before flying off to somewhere else. She keeps returning hoping we’ve grown more interesting, but sadly we haven’t and so she quickly flies on. Typically the male cardinal gets all the glory with his signature red feathers that grace every other Christmas card, but I’ve always found the female version more interesting, particularly at dusk when she reveals her hidden hues.
Another cool trait of the female redbird is the gift of song. Only a few female North American songbirds can actually carry a tune, but the female cardinal enjoys singing, often while sitting in her nest. She’ll share song phrases with her mate in order to communicate about when to bring food to the nest. Not wanting to only be part of a duet, she’ll break out into a longer and slightly more complex song in an effort to upstage her husband. She may not make it on all the holiday cards, but she’s damn determined to prove she’s no slack when it comes to vocal performance.
Cardinals can appear a bit odd during spring and early summer when both sexes become a bit obsessed with protecting their territory. As their hormones rage, you’ll find them attacking their own reflections in windows and the shiny bumpers of cars. Which makes them appear perfectly insane. But that simply adds to their charm. And I can’t help but smile when I see our little guest come and greet us. I wish I could tell her that I think she’s actually the more beautiful of the pair. You’re beautiful and jungle red is so out this year, I want to say. But I don’t speak cardinal. So, I just stupidly nod in approval while admiring the subtle beauty of a little lady redbird.
Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month!
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Gamboge, Azo Orange, Pyrrol Red and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!