A Winter Almanac: Cold Days of the Cardinal

A winter almanac highlights the magic seven stars of Pleiades and the beloved red cardinal winter bird.

| December 1995/January 1996

  • 153-070-01i3
    The Seven Sisters star cluster.
  • 153-070-01i1
    The red cardinal is one of winter's regular visitors at the bird feeder.

  • 153-070-01i3
  • 153-070-01i1

A royal red winter bird and the magic seven stars of Pleiades are this season's highlights of the winter almanac.  

A Winter Almanac

Through drifting snow and cutting sleet I've trudged and toiled my friends to greet; And tug'd beneath my lumb'ring gear, To wish you all a HAPPY YEAR.
— An Old Almanack,
January, 1824

Red Bird in the Snow 

If you can afford to stay snug in your home on a winter day, one of the chief enjoyments you can have is looking out your window at a well-stocked and much-frequented bird feeder. And one of the best sights is seeing a dash of vivid and warm color brought to the pale landscape in the living form of that amazing American bird we call the cardinal.

No bird is more easy to recognize than the male cardinal, almost entirely red except for the conspicuous black mask on his face. The female cardinal's overall color has been called buff-brown and yellowish-olive, but what you notice most are the touches of red that it does have, on its crest, tail, and wings. Its red touches are beautifully artistic, in fact it's almost as if someone had used a paintbrush and stroked the color on here and there. The immature cardinals are also only partial in their redness.

But redness of feathers is not the only physical feature that makes cardinals attractive and likable. The crest on the head is impressive, of course. But have you ever noticed the color of these birds' beaks? The adults' beaks are pink, although I could swear that there is also some gold in the male's w (or perhaps the female's beak looks more pink in relation to her plumage). One way to tell immature male cardinals from females is by color of the beak—the young birds' beaks are rather colorless, sort of dusky.

6/13/2007 11:08:59 AM

Cardinals regulary visit my bird feeder full of sunflower seeds. Today, I saw a male feeding his offspring. The baby bird was brownish with no red and made a buzzing sound like a small motor. Bzzz-bzzz-bzzz. Fascinating! What a good parent.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me