Well, this is a first

Today was warm and sunny, quite a change from all the cold, wet weather we’ve been having here in western Virginia. The birds took full advantage of the beautiful day, singing and chasing after potential mates. Three male Red-winged Blackbirds showed up at the feeders, probably migrating north, but other than that, it was the usual customers – titmice, chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, finches, and woodpeckers.

It’s been my experience that cardinals are often the last visitors to the feeder in the evening, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw this male Northern Cardinal late in the day. I was surprised, though, that he was perched on the suet feeder, of all places.


I did a double-take because I have never seen a cardinal on a suet feeder. Normally, they prefer platform-type feeders or peck around below the feeders, catching the morsels that fall.

I watched him bend down and take a bite, then ran for my camera. I was only able to get one picture before he flew off into the woods. Seeing the cardinal eating from the suet feeder was a first for me, but maybe it’s a more common occurrence than I realize. Anyway, I’ll be watching to see if this particular cardinal has decided he doesn’t want to wait for crumbs!

17 thoughts on “Well, this is a first

  1. Hi, Jo Ann: Beautiful pictures!!!!!! We have enjoyed watching a pair of Cardinals all winter and they regularly eat from the suet feeder – but they stay longer and I think eat more of the seed at the seed feeder! Your blogs are GREAT!!!!!!!! Margie

    • Hi Margie. Well that shoots my “new behavior” theory! I’m just glad they’re year-round residents because I love to look at them and hear their cheery song. Thank you for your effusive praise! Hi to Dan. 🙂

  2. The article was interesting as always …… I too have never seen a cardinal on a suet feeder and I have lots of cardinals in my yard. Recently this year I have had the great pleasure of bluebirds ing the coming to my nugget feeders which are hung next to windows I truly enjoy seeing the bluebirds ….. I have been trying to attract them for years.

    • Hi Nona. Bluebirds are hard to attract, but very loyal once they “find” you.I put out meal worms in the summer, which they love. I’m glad to see so many people feeding the birds through the winter when they really need the help. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I saw my cardinal pair eating off the squirrel plank I place outside the front door for my dog Kiana’s viewing pleasure she she is stuck inside. She gets so excited when the feisty red squirrel appears. So, I put seed out on my front window sill and now the birds come there. Finally figured the cardinals out. Great photo!

    • It’s amazing how many birds, including cardinals, have expanded their populations northward. One of the major reasons is the popularity of bird feeding and people keeping their bird feeders full. So keep on feeding! Besides, it gives Kiana her own TV. 🙂

    • That’s the thing about animals – they do things they aren’t “known to do” all the time because they are all different and have different learning experiences.

  4. Great photo of your cardinal Jo Ann. Thought you might be interested in my recent post about (amongst other things) a chiffchaff in my garden! They migrate from Africa across the southern part of the UK in the spring but are most often seen in the summer, and then not too commonly apparantely so I was thrilled to see not only one, but a pair of them!

    • I haven’t been fortunate enough to see any rare birds, but we do get a lot of migrants passing through the region every spring and fall. The Appalachian Mountain range (which is closeby) is a north-south flyway for lots of bird traveling to and from South America, so we get birds stopping over to forage and rest. Thanks for commenting, Sherri.

  5. Isn’t he pretty? Great catch! I’ve never seen a cardinal at a suet feeder either, so this is a first for me too. 🙂

  6. What a neat discovery, Jo Ann. While cardinals aren’t the first bird I’d associate with a suet feeder, most birds won’t pass up the high fat content if they can get it. He just needed to find a way to get at it. Most are designed for woodpeckers and nuthatches and it takes a special kind of balance for a cardinal to reach it. Very cool. I’d be just excited to see a cardinal. They’re not native to Manitoba and I’ve only every seen on vagrant many years ago.

  7. I should have entitled it “This is a first (for me)” because, although it’s not a common sight because of the balance issue, most animals will find a way if they want something bad enough. So chances are, others have observed this behavior. I’ve been missing your posts – good to hear from you again. 🙂

    • It seems I get more anxious for spring to arrive with every passing year. Even though it’s cold today, the fields are turning green – so there’s hope!

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