Romance of the Nesting Season

A male cardinal guards his mate's territory from our raised bed.

One confused cardinal moved into our pines this spring. Poor girl. She bobs from one branch to another, planning her attack before she pecks her reflection in the guest bedroom window.               
Each sunrise, my husband and I wake to her perched on the windowsill, striking the glass with her beak and wings. It would be amusing, even charming, if her instinct didn’t persist daylong, descend from upstairs to the dining room windows below.
In our long residence here, I’ve not been so concerned for a bird. I do hope her mate is nearby to help defend their territory. Her aggressive, protective behavior will eventually exhaust this little mother. If she doesn’t feed and rest, she’ll suffer malnutrition and disease, never build her nest. Then our cat, Mo, will sniff her out.
                  Oh, I regret the cardinal fights against her survival. She returns on Mother’s Day, evokes my empathy for her plight. She did not come by chance, I believe, but as an allegory of motherhood.
                  Longer without children in our household than within, I hear and understand the bird’s distress. Her urgency. With the average longevity of three years, the northern cardinal’s life is brief upon this earth, approximately twenty-seven years to our one, if we live to eighty.
Cardinals mate for life. The male stands guard while the female cardinal constructs two nests a year. Bears two broods. As other common backyard birds, the male feeds the female during the breeding phases of egg laying and incubation. Bird watchers call this conscientious care “pair bonding”. This may indicate what kind of provider the daddy will be to their offspring.
I think this male feeding is definitely a beneficial behavior for human parents to consider. Imagine the pair bonding if a husband fed ice cream to his wife while on her nest. Chocolate chip mint. Butter pecan. Lemon. A young man I met in the grocery store several weeks ago selected cinnamon ice cream.
“It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. My wife and I love it,” he exclaimed and raced to the checkout.
Dear Reader, imagine the pair bonding if human mothers reciprocated, fed their husbands ice cream. A returned kind gesture to nourish body and soul, build their house with durable materials. For every home needs an arsenal of advantages and defenders when raising our young.
Both cardinal parents feed their hatchlings for nine to eleven days before they fledge. In comparison, we feed our children approximately 6,570 days before they take their first flight. That’s a warehouse of food.
To remedy the cardinal’s dilemma, I closed our curtains on my dirty windows today. Hopefully, this will prevent her reflection and permit the fulfillment of her foraging and building instincts.
With opera glasses in hand, I’m on the lookout for her mate. Secretive builders, I hope to find their home, observe them beak-to-beak, and eventually count their babies’ open mouths.
I do love the romance and kinship of the nesting season. The cardinal was my mother’s favorite bird.