Last week I kept seeing Cardinals everywhere. He was on the trail everyday when I ran. He showed up in my yard. It was one of those things where I knew it wasn’t going to stop until I painted him.
I’m really glad I did. I needed him to remind me.
There is so much I could write on the cardinal. It holds significance on many levels for me. I was born a Buckeye, so these fierce little songbirds will always hold a place in my “heart of it all”. (Along with Ohio, the cardinal was also named state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.)
They are gorgeous birds with a song that truly does sound like “cheer”.
It’s even more special to me that the females of this species, while not as bright and bold in color, actually do sing. This puts a damper on the former theories that birdsong was only a male trait for sexual selection. For me, it’s a great metaphor for women everywhere. We have a voice, and it’s not all about mating. Although cardinals do mate for life, which leads to this next interesting fact-
Male cardinals actually lose some of their brilliant crimson color while helping to rear nestlings. They do this to lessen the risk of attracting predators to the nest while they are feeding the nest.
They are great dads. Dad birds. What?! I know, right?
But when they aren’t being awesome bird fathers, they are territorial and aggressive. They are known for fighting with other crimson cards, including those they see reflected in glass.
Warriors, indeed. Cardinals can also be a warning symbol of aggressive vanity that might be holding us back.
It’s easy to see why the male cardinal’s fiery crimson plumage always captures our attention, especially on those bleak winter days. But there really is so much about these birds that brings me awe and peace, it’s no wonder that the final and most important symbol of a cardinal is that of an esoteric nature.
Many say that seeing a cardinal is representative of a visit from a loved one that has passed.
All of us live our daily lives with a certain amount of heartache for those we have lost.
Some days can be a proverbial blizzard. The forest is whipped with icy winds, the snow is blinding, our feet and hands are numb, and the tears freeze on our eyelashes. It makes it hard to see the path let alone keep on walking.
Then a brilliant flash of red reminds us it won’t be winter forever. The sun will shine. The snow will melt. The wind will subside. A song of Cheer.
I titled this painting Cardinal Direction with that in mind.
When we are mindful, seeing these birds can influence how we direct our steps and our thoughts afterward, even through the bitter cold winds. Thank you, Cardinal.
Do you have a cardinal story?
Contact me. 🙂
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