He Said, She Said

For the past few days, the first thing I’ve heard at dawn is the clear, bright song of a Cardinal. As soon as I step outside, I can see him, perched in the very top of one of the bare-limbed trees, like a small, precise drop of glistening red paint on a canvas of pale blue and white, singing “cheer, cheer, cheer, birdie-birdie-birdie.” Late this afternoon, I heard the familiar song in a lower branch, just over my head. But woven into the usual notes were some low purring and trilled sounds that I’d never noticed before. It turned out to be a female Cardinal singing.

Cardinals in general have a varied repertoire of songs and calls, and it’s well known that females sing, too, often in response to their mates. From what I’ve read, the females are capable of singing just as loudly and emphatically when they want to, but in this case, her song – like her coloring – was softer and nuanced with subtle expressions that were quite different from the flamboyant style of her mate.

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