Don't ask me how I got this photograph--by happy accident. But when I saw it on my screen, I thought of how accurately it captures the essence of cardinal. They're the shyest birds at my feeder, careful about coming close, careering off if there is movement nearby. They seem to travel in pairs, and the male always arrives first. Unlike the goldfinches and sparrows, who swoop in greedily, with little concern for ambient danger, the cardinals arrive in stages, landing first on the large maple at the other side of the garden, then diving into the branches of the pine nearby, where they hide for a while and scan the territory, and then finally making their way to the feeder. They never stay for long, but I'm going to adjust the food to see if that helps matters. I love the depth of his red feathers and his bright tufted crown, but I like even more the understated elegance of hers, that subtle wash of "greige", a grey-beige, with just a touch of beeky brightness. The cardinals are always clicking to one another; they seem quite protective of each other, and attached as a couple.
I was inspired to do my own clicking to the Wiki genies, for more information, where I learned that Northern Cardinals are of the passerine family. They are perching birds, whose feet have three toes forward, one directed backwards, so that they can grip vertical surfaces. They can sleep while perching, a handy trick I wouldn't mind adopting (adapting?) as it might be useful, after those nights of insomnia, to make up for sleep deprivation by snoozing at my perch in front of the computer.