Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cardinal Knowledge

So, in my last entry I posted five photos of cardinals that visited my back yard yesterday.

This morning - less than 24 hours later - I opened my front door, brought in my copy of the Columbus Dispatch, and found a story about cardinals in it.

It would seem that I'm surrounded.

And now infiltrated.

Or something.

One thing I'm clearly not, however, is plagiarized as the story didn't focus on red cardinals but on other kinds.

Who knew that there *were* other kinds?

Not me.

Not until I saw their photo of a yellow cardinal, anyway.

There are also allegedly albino cardinals but apparently photos of such creatures aren't fit for publication in a family newspaper. They published a photo of a partial albino instead.

You can see it for yourself by going here.

If you read the article under the photos you'll also learn the following fun facts:

----- There are apparently far more cardinals in Ohio now than before the area was settled by Europeans. It seems that cardinals love our suburban open spaces and more or less hated the old growth forests that once covered much of the state. Consequently, it doesn't look like you're gonna need to join any "Save The Cardinals!" campaigns anytime soon.

----- How many cardinals are there in Ohio now? An estimated 2.4 million. That's roughly 1 cardinal for every 5 Ohioans. (In case you can't tell the two apart, cardinals are the ones who don't clog the airwaves with negative campaign ads.)

----- Both male and female cardinals sing but the females sing a little less vigorously. (Raucous blue jays "sing" - if you want to call it that - far more loudly than either.)

----- In 1879 or so you could buy cardinals in Columbus for about $1.50 a pair. That's illegal now. But you can still buy just about as many assault rifles as you want. Go figure.

----- Sometimes you might see a "bald" cardinal. These poor, crestless birds with their exposed dark and bony heads are suffering from mites. The mites itch. The birds scratch off all their feathers as they attempt to find some relief. Fortunately, most of these mite-infested birds fully recover. (The article doesn't say whether or not the mites survive. I guess nobody cares. If mites ever learn how to sing, maybe that will change. I bet it would even boost sales of assault rifles.)

----- The yellow of yellow cardinals is caused by a genetic abnormality known as "xanthochroism" among scientists who enjoy showing off at parties and such. It mutes the darker pigments, allowing the yellow to show through - or so I'm told. Part of me suspects this is all a put-on from a bored journalist who doesn't think that readers of the Dispatch have ever heard of Photoshop.

----- Cardinals can apparently live as long as 16 years in the wild. Given Ohio's often horrible weather, I'm betting that feels like about 100 years to those cardinals lucky enough to survive middle age.

And just because I know it's impossible to have too much cardinal knowledge, I'll also pass along this: The cardinal is Ohio's state bird. Just like it's the state bird of 6 other states - Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virgina, and West Virginia. That just seems wrong as wrong can be - or at least as wrong as the Cincinnati Reds calling themselves the home team of 7 different cities. When I'm King this is exactly the sort of nonsense I hope to replace with a whole better class of nonsense.

North Carolina is perhaps the most surprising state on that list. I would have thought North Carolinians would be the ones most familiar with the Bible and, as such, the ones who would have picked the bat to be their state bird. I suspect they'll rectify this unholy oversight just as soon as they realize the futility of trying to sell tobacco to cud-chewing rabbits....

1 comment:

  1. xanthochroism: watch out where the cardinals go and don't you chew no yellow crow.

    I can't think of anything else to say because I'm remembering watching Carnal Knowledge with a certain girl in a darkened lecture hall in an agriculture building at a large midwestern university and I am lost in Carnal Memories.

    Gather ye red birds while ye may. Eh?