Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cardinal Virtues

Magnet # 13:  Ohio Cardinal

Material:  Rubber

Purchased by:  Dad

Just what is it about the cardinal, anyway?  I mean, I know it's a pretty bird.  It certainly pops out at you if it's in your backyard and you happen to be looking through the window.  But it's far and away the most popular state bird.  Seven states, including Ohio, have named it their state bird.  Sometimes it feels like it's tough not to find a magnet with a cardinal on it.  Okay- that might be an exaggeration.

So I decided to take to the web in an attempt to understand just what makes these birds so popular.  And here's my results:
First, they are just so attractive.  Male cardinals, like the one depicted here, never molt so they are always bright and pretty.  Even female cardinals have a bit of red in their mostly brown feathers.  Also, cardinals don't migrate.  And while they're pretty in summer, when it's snowy, they just leap out at a viewer thanks to their white background.  Next, they tend to favor low lying areas such as bushes and shrubs so they're closer to where people can admire them, not tucked away high in the forest.  Even if they're not where you can easily see them, their calls can help you find them.  Finally, these birds are everywhere!  Okay, they're in more than half of the continental US.  They live in the Northeastern states, the Southern states, and part of the Mid-West.  They're even found as far down as Central America.  And people tend to pick the birds they see the most.  
Okay, question answered.  There really are quite a few reasons why the cardinal is so prevalent as a state bird.  And it's not as if states get together and debate which bird to use.  They just pick 'em - so what if they overlap!  Still, given the amount of times you see the cardinal, the mockingbird, and the western meadowlark as state birds, it's kinda cool to come across a truly unique bird like Minnesota's Loon or Hawaii's Nene Goose.

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