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September 29, 2012 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Juvenile Northern Cardinal

One of my favorite backyard birds is the Northern Cardinal. Two pairs regularly visit my backyard feeders and I have been waiting all summer to see a baby cardinal.

This week I finally saw a young cardinal at the feeder with his parents. They were showing him the sunflower seeds. They arrived just after sunset and it was too dark for a photo. Today he showed up again and was eating seeds from the ground under the feeder.

Juvenile Male Cardinal

This is a young male, the equivalent of a teenager. He is just starting to grow his bright red feathers and soon his bill will transition to the familiar orange that distinguishes cardinals.

Juvenile Male Cardinal

I will be bird watching out in a prairie today. It’s migration season and I hope to see a lot of birds not normally found in Illinois as they pass through on their journey south.

I’ll be stopping by to visit everyone’s photos later today.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Lisa H. (@AliveonShelves) / Sep 29 2012 2:44 am

    Poor thing still looks a little splotchy!


  2. Louise / Sep 29 2012 2:57 am

    He’s an attractive young fellow, inspite of his shagginess- or perhaps because of it. How lovely to see the next generation arrive. I was thrilled to see some cardinals in Texas last year. I’m sure you’ll have a great day watching migratory birds.


  3. Cipriano / Sep 29 2012 3:05 am

    Even though his plumage ain’t quite…. umm… IN yet, I still say he looks quite good. “Splotchy” as a former commenter put it. His beak still has that sort of downward frown to it. Like Jack Klugman in The Odd Couple. Soon he’ll be all filled out and spry…… like Tony Randall!


    • Leslie / Sep 30 2012 12:14 pm

      Awkward looking, yes, but he’s going to be a handsome young bird when his bright red feathers grow in and his body size catches up to his large beak. And since cardinals don’t migrate I’m hoping to see him here at the feeder all winter brightening up my yard.


  4. honeybeejoy / Sep 29 2012 4:38 am

    I enjoy your pictures so much! I am a fellow birdwatcher. Seeing birds on my feeders makes me happy.


  5. Jayme@Beachreader / Sep 29 2012 4:51 am

    I always look forward to your photos. What an adorable little guy.


  6. Brona / Sep 29 2012 5:33 am

    What an unusually coloured bird – splotchy and scruffy looking – like someone dropped a can of red paint as he was hopping by.


  7. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Sep 29 2012 5:37 am

    so adorable, love his little tufted top.


  8. BermudaOnion / Sep 29 2012 5:38 am

    He looks like a teenager with spiked up hair in the bottom photo!


  9. Paulita / Sep 29 2012 5:55 am

    He looks adorably scruffy. The neighbor said we had baby cardinals. She even considered not feeding the stray cats for a few months to give them a change to grow. Hope they make it. Here’s Mine


    • Leslie / Sep 30 2012 11:51 am

      Keeping the stray cats away is a good idea. The baby birds spend a lot of time on the ground and are still learning about predators.


  10. Christine Harding / Sep 29 2012 6:44 am

    Oh, that is such a beautiful bird… even nicer than a robin. My Snapshot is at


  11. Kaye / Sep 29 2012 6:47 am

    I love to see cardinals. This is a great shot of a young one.


  12. Trish / Sep 29 2012 7:50 am

    That’s so cute! He looks just like an awkward teenager too.


  13. laurelrainsnow / Sep 29 2012 7:59 am

    He is gorgeous…..I love any bird that has red plumage; thanks for sharing.



  14. Arti / Sep 29 2012 8:01 am

    Don’t think I’ll ever see a cardinal here. But we’ve lots of gulls and ducks and geese. These photos are so interesting. Thanks for sharing your birdwatching experience.


    • Leslie / Sep 30 2012 11:54 am

      They are such a common bird here in Illinois (and are the state bird) that I forget they are not seen in the Western US or Canada. Their range has been expanding as the climate gets warmer and more people put out backyard feeders.


  15. DizzyC / Sep 29 2012 8:31 am

    Ah, Saturday Snapshot would not be the complete without a visit to your blog and your fab photos.

    As ever, great photos, Leslie.

    You will understand why I have been absent for a while if you see my sat snapshot.

    Have a great weekend


  16. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Sep 29 2012 10:37 am

    I love getting to see cardinals! I’ve only seen them a couple of times while visiting the East coast, and I feel the same excitement each time I see them. 🙂


    • Leslie / Sep 30 2012 12:02 pm

      Their range is expanding west and into southern Canada, but so far they haven’t made it to the northwest. I checked eBird and there have been cardinals spotted in Arizona and southern California, so maybe someday you will find on in your yard.


  17. Sim@chapter1-take1 / Sep 29 2012 12:55 pm

    Scruffy maybe but very arresting too.


  18. irene / Sep 29 2012 3:09 pm

    I love your birds. What a great adventure you’re having.


  19. Suko / Sep 29 2012 4:12 pm

    These are gorgeous photos! Very natural and pretty.


  20. cherylmahoney / Sep 29 2012 5:31 pm

    Haha, must be in his awkward teen stage. Can’t you just imagine teenage birds moaning about their patchy feathers? 🙂


  21. lmkazmierczak / Sep 29 2012 5:55 pm

    Very nice capture…He’s sure to get big quickly with your sunflower seeds♫♪


  22. Susan / Sep 29 2012 8:24 pm

    He even looks adolescent! All shaggy and ‘mohawk’ … a real rowdy…


  23. Nise' (Under the Boardwalk) / Sep 29 2012 9:42 pm

    I like his young look! Great shots.


  24. Pam and Drew / Sep 8 2013 10:20 pm

    we are in Rochester New York and saw family similar to yours after sunset with the young male feeding below the feeder on the ground on Sept 8th. Also saw a humming bird today; a double treat today.
    Have fun bird watching.


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