“It’s a Song…It’s an Assault…It’s a Dance,” Says Harold
Posted on February 7, 2014
It’s been the better part of two weeks now that one lone bird has been flying, almost kamikaze-style, into the windows of my kitchen area and great room. At first I thought there was some nest nearby. A glance around the outside area of the windows yields nothing out of the ordinary to attract birds. At least, that is what I think. And yet every morning for the past two weeks this one brilliantly colored red bird, a Northern Cardinal I believe, face-plants (or would that be “beak-plants?”) himself into our windows…not just once or twice, but countless times over the course of the day. Frankly, it’s a wonder he’s still alive.
This morning we had sunshine. We haven’t seen the sun in well over a week; it’s a most welcome lift to my soul. I’m standing at the kitchen counter cleaning up the breakfast dishes when I hear the now familiar thump, thump on the window. The poodle, who was sleeping peacefully in his bed near a window, is awake in a flash and barking too.
“It’s Mr. Harold Headbanger again,” I say to my barking poodle. It occurs to me just for a moment I should have told my sis about this bird; she’s inclined to name many things (objects, plants, animals…even cars) and she most likely would have come up with a far better name than Mr. Harold Headbanger.
I now see the bird pecking at the window in the family room; he seems to be hopping up and down on the window sill as if trying to get a good look into what’s going on inside the house. Maybe I should call him “Peeping Harold” I muse. A second later he’s attached himself to the window screen of another window, head facing down and tail feathers flared resembling a lovely silk red Chinese fan. He’s almost furiously pecking away at the screen. Perhaps he wants to come inside? He flies off before I can blink twice and then chooses another window, one in the kitchen area. Thump, thump... again. The poodle continues to bark which quickly grows mighty annoying.
After a moment or two Mr. Harold Headbanger flies off and all is blessedly quiet again. I decide to do a quick search on my iPad. I’m intrigued about this head-banging, body slamming behavior. In my cursory search on a National Geographic site, I learn that in a cardinal’s world it’s the male that must protect and defend its territory. Harold is doing a bang-up job of it, I’d say! In addition, a male cardinal can fight with its reflection for hours if he comes across his reflection in a mirror. If you ask me, I didn’t think my windows were clean enough to qualify as mirrors. Mr. Harold Headbanger sure has endurance too….he stays at it for some time. He is clearly launching an all-out assault against what he perceives is an offending male.
Later, once the temperature warmed up to toasty 32 degrees I decide to go out into the back yard in hopes of giving the poodle a little exercise. I start throwing his ball and he happily chases after it. Despite the cold the sun feels wonderful. As I am throwing the ball I see Mr. Harold Headbanger. He is perched high up in a tree and he is singing. How gloriously happy he sounds (though I later learn his song is for two purposes: to attract a mate and to warn other male cardinals off… as in, Yo…dude…this is my ‘hood!). For a moment I remain as still as a statue watching the bird. Even with the dog nearby, running around in the yard, Mr. Harold Headbanger keeps swooping down from his high perch to fly, head first, into the windows. Now I know….it’s a song, an assault, and a dance of sorts... not necessarily meant for my pleasure! Still I’m enjoying every minute of it and I’m wondering too where the females are!
I leave the poodle to play in the yard and run inside to grab my camera. I wish my sis were here. Sis is fabulously talented at taking photos (it’s part of her creativity DNA). Hoping to channel some of that, I am determined to snap a photo of this bird…that is, if he stands still long enough! Miraculously, Mr. Harold Headbanger is still around when I return with camera in hand. Poodle is understandably perplexed that I’m not throwing the ball but sits patiently waiting for my attention.
I snap a few photos and enjoy a good ten minutes of Mr. Harold Headbanger’s song and window dance before giving my poodle my full attention. Poodle is happy, Mr. Harold Headbanger is happy, and I’m happy too…thankful to have seized the moment and with it some photos as well.