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The Binocular Advisornone

This Morning Outside

by Diane Porter

August 8, 2010
On the walk under the feeders at Birdwatching Dot Com
Fairfield, Iowa

It reminds me of how a teenage boy's voice breaks, mixing his high voice with the lower notes that he'll use in adulthood. In this northern cardinal, the color of the bill is what's changing. Today his bill is more than halfway red. You can also see the red feathers coming in on his chest, mingling with the drab feathers of infancy.

Northern Cardinal
Photo copyright 2010 Michael and Diane Porter

Northern CardinalJust two weeks ago, this young male was still fluttering his wings and trying to look helpless. At that stage, the his bill was still dusky colored, with no trace of red on it, as in the picture taken July 22, at right. The parent cardinals were willing to pick up sunflower seeds off the walk and put them into their children's open mouths.

But that time is past. The parents have now stopped feeding their maturing young, who no longer even bother to beg. Soon this young bird's bill will be as bright red as his father's.

At the moment, the young cardinal is between worlds. Ah, adolescence.

—Diane Porter

Outside Grid

See more pictures
from This Morning Outside

Beak
An adult male cardinal

Northern Cardinal

 

 

 

 

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Cardinal Feeder