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! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!

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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60 thoughts on “Little Lady Redbird

  1. That is stunning, Charlie! I see tonnes of males but I don’t remember seeing a female. They are more interesting to look at. My favorite around here after the cardinal is an oreole but they don’t come by very often.

  2. beautiful bird Charlie! I have never, ever seen a Cardinal…..:( I have always been amazed by their color. I truly love the fact that you appreciate the female. I don’t even know what they sound like, now I need to google it and find out.

  3. Sung to the tune of The Entertainer:

    Oh, my handsome male of the bright red crest,
    When you come round to visit our sticky nest
    Won’t you bring us a morsel of food,
    A little nut or a seed,
    Perhaps a berry or weed,
    Something to sink our pointy beaks into
    I know you’re tired as can be
    Have posed all day for photography
    But we’re hungry you see
    And I’ve been minding kiddies
    Not a minute to change this old dress
    So if you want to preen my golden plumage
    I suggest you appear at the tree top cottage
    And remember to daddy is to be
    More than a red-hued birdy
    And start to hunt with more finesse.

    Well, all that singing has put a little orange into my tail feathers.

  4. Beautiful doodlewash of a beautiful bird – I’m loving the funky crest! How lucky you are to be afforded her company -she can’t think you’re that dull if she continues to visit! 😉 And the image of one scuffling with a reflection is quite funny. Perfectly insane indeed, but not exclusive to birds: my (perfectly insane) cat Oscar has swiped and hissed at his own reflection many a time! 😛

      1. Oh, it so would! No doubt he’d enjoy the celebrity! Sadly though he doesn’t do it so much now – he’s quite old, and is less for boxing and more for sleeping!

  5. I’m always drawn to the beauty of the female cardinal too. We have tons of them here, and I love them. You captured the essence so wonderfully Charlie O!

  6. We have a pair of Cardinals that have been hanging out in our yard too. I do think the lady is more attractive in her understated style. Your rendition is lovely too. 😊

  7. I’m so sad for all the people who don’t have cardinals! Charlie, you’ve done a beautiful job with this mama Cardinal, I just love them too. They are much more beautiful than the males. So glad you agree. I just love your posts, never knew that about the singing, always learn something here, Charlie. I may just try painting a cardinal, thanks for the inspiration. ❤️❤️❤️

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