The Cardinal Rules of Camoflage

I have often wondered about the color differences of a female and a male cardinal. He’s so very flashy and red, he has that black mask and intense expression, he’s showy and casts an air of bravado – she does not. She practically blends into the background. Maybe it’s the lack of eyeliner, but she has a sweet face that seems mostly serene and happy. She almost disappears at times…

If I hold very still, no one will spot me.

If I hold very still, no one will spot me…

Except for this ridiculous orange beak, I'm nearly invisible.

Except for this ridiculous orange beak, I’m nearly invisible…

I see that the human has placed some fruit and sunflower seeds on that ladder - so tempting...

I see that the human has placed some fruit and sunflower seeds on that platter – so so tempting…

But if I move a muscle then she might spot me...

But if I move a muscle then she might spot me…

Even so, what harm could it do? I'm pretty hungry...

Even so, what harm could it do? I’m pretty hungry…

I'm staying put, I wonder if she delivers.

Dang – she’s already got eyes on me, still I’m staying put. I wonder if she delivers.

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40 thoughts on “The Cardinal Rules of Camoflage

  1. Pingback: What does the Fox Say? | the eff stop

  2. Lovely photos .. I have often wondered if the female is so coloured to disguise herself when sitting on the nest… the male I’m sure is for attracting a mate and protecting his domain… but then who knows what nature is up to…

  3. I believe also the female is less flashy so the predators will not spot her and her nest easily. The male will draw them away with his flash and dash. Great pictures though Lorri. πŸ™‚

  4. One theory is that the male’s flamboyant red coat announces his presence to other males and may also work to reduce the fighting associated with acquiring and defending a high-quality territory. It is also thought that brightly-colored males have a better chance of attracting a mate. Very little is carved in stone about birds, but it’s food for thought. Lovely pictures.

    • That theory sounds plausible – Maybe it’s just me, but their demeanor seems different. The females were the first to visit the feeders and calmer when there. The males took a very long time to warm up to the idea of eating on my porch.

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