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Is this the world’s scariest cardinal; or, is it possibly the world’s smartest?


I am not afraid of snakes, rats, spiders or any of the other things that a lot of people seem to fear.

I just had a meet-up with a crazy cardinal that was about to change my view of what is normal behavior.

I was out in my backyard during the hottest part of the summer when a young male cardinal flew over from the neighbor’s pool. He took off from their fence like he had somewhere to go. When he got up to about 25 feet off of the ground, he changed direction and headed right for me.

I had never had that happen before. He got within about ten feet of me and landed on the ground. Then the cardinal hopped up to within about five feet. He stood there looking up at me. I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with this bird?” It didn’t appear as if he was afraid of me and he wasn't about to budge.

I walked about 4 or 5 steps and stopped. It was very dry, so when I moved a little puff of dust came out from under my feet. He hopped up to within five feet of me again. My mind is working like crazy now. What is this cardinal up to? We did the same dance step four or five times more. I would move a few feet and he would close the gap again.

I was thinking dumb thoughts like, “Do birds get rabies?” Does this have something to do with the Avian flu? I had heard of large birds like Jays and Crows being found dead in our neighborhood. We were supposed to call someone and report it when we saw big dead birds.

Out of curiosity; possibly some fear involved, I dashed around the back corner of the garage. That bird was still following me. Now I’m beginning to feel like I’m prey or something. Just about that time I saw him nab a large grasshopper that I had kicked up. The light bulb finally came on. I could understand that kind of behavior.

Sheepishly, I realized that the cardinal had been using me as a tool to kick up bugs for him to eat. I now have a new candidate for the most intelligent species list.



femmeflashpoint on October 15, 2011:

LOL - I liked this. :)

I haven't ever seen behavior like that in a cardinal either, and even though he was using you as a food-finder, it was still brave and out of the ordinary. Maybe he's been hanging out around other people.

Thank you for posting the pix and info on the bird-feeding syringes, and the video at the end is very cute.

I rescued a baby bird night before last. He's been one of several over the years and, I just can't help myself. They're so little and fragile, I can't ever pass one up and not lend a hand when they've gotten too far from the nest too soon.

Bob Diamond RPh (author) from Charlotte, NC USA on November 05, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by, Dolores.

The robins have gotten so used to having me around that they will forage within reach, even with their fledglings in tow, when I am sitting on one of the iron benches in our backyard.

We have planted a lot of bird-friendly perennials and have a birdbath available for them, but we don't have traditional feeders, except for the hummingbirds that my wife loves.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on November 05, 2010:

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I love to observe the behavior of birds in our own backyard. One oddity I have seen is that male American robins often dive bomb 2 of my sons, 2 redheads whose hair is almost the same color as the robin's breast. At first I did not believe them but have seen it. Must be the color.

Springboard from Wisconsin on October 01, 2010:

lol. It never ceases to amaze me the smaller things in a human's world capture ALL of our attentions. And we laugh at the image of an elephant shrieking in horror at the sight of a mouse. :)

Darlene Yager from Michigan on September 07, 2010:

I once witnessed some sort of exchange between a Northern Flicker and a common squirrel. The squirrel was on upside down on a tree trunk and the flicker landed on the ground near the tree. They looked at each other bobbing about their heads as if they were visiting. I have a picture of them, they stayed there like that long enough for me to get my camera and snap a shot off. Nice hub!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on August 31, 2010:

Great article, I love birds and Cardinal are fearless and aggresive as we have many here in Ohio, our state bird. It's a toss up between them and the blue jays as to who's bolder, I think the female blue jay may have it hands down. The cardinals aren't to wise in their choice of nesting, each year I have a nest of cardinals in my Japanese maple just over hanging my Koi pond and it's only about 8 ft. tall, easy access of prey. What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. Peace :)

equealla from Pretoria, South Africa on August 29, 2010:

Funny, funny, funny. I have to tell my kids about this, they will enjoy it just as much, for sure!

Judah's Daughter from Roseville, CA on August 25, 2010:

Oh, this is too cute! What a refreshing hub. lol Thank you for the smiles!!!

eovery from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa on August 25, 2010:

Interesting behavior.

Keep on hubbing!

Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on August 25, 2010:

I really enjoyed this little vignette writ with clarity, humor and panache...Thank you for the share...Larry

sheila b. on August 25, 2010:

Observing animals is so fascinating! Like you, I always end up in awe at their intelligence. This bird must have had the experience of man providing food, he remembered it, and acted on it. Loved this story.

Trenchcaptain on August 25, 2010:

Zack and I just read this. Found it h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s:) Please copy & paste to your HSH Blog (with image first or it won't come out on main page) if you get the chance. Thanks so much Bob! Have a great day!

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 25, 2010:

What a lovely vignette! And what a very smart bird. Thanks so much for sharing.

Sam from Tennessee on August 25, 2010:

up & beautiful! Tremendous hub, infatuating...

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