Northern Cardinal – Illinois State Bird

December 14, 2013

The weather was bitterly cold this week and now this weekend it looks like we have had about 6 inches of snow.  This is quite a change from last December, when the weather was so mild.  To compare this year with last year look in the archives for last year’s pictures.

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Female northern cardinal that has just eaten a crabapple.  We are so glad to have this tree, malus ‘profusion’ crabapple, right outside our kitchen window.

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Male northern cardinal on a snowy day.  It is always fun to see these red bird flying through on a drab winter day.

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Dan took this picture of some kind of sparrow, I think.  I am not very good at identifying these small birds.

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Many leaves remain on the viburnum bushes.  That gives a hiding place for the small birds.  I have seen them poking out of the bird house at times, too.  The grasses and echinacea of the meadow stand out in the snow.  The tall grass behind the bird house is a giant sacaton, with very tall seed heads, and the miscanthus is bent over with snow.

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German thyme in the snow, not far from the kitchen door, if needed.

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After about 6 inches of snow here is what the low hoop looks like.  Earlier in the week the temperature got down to -3 F.  I wondered what was happening inside.

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Inside the hoop things did not look great.  The healthiest plants are the winterbor kale, though they look a little yellow.  I harvested a bucket of it.  The tatsoi are fine, but I don’t seem to use them much in recipes.  The lettuce was mostly mushy.  I think the onions and turnips are fine and there are a few pak choi that could be harvested.  There is still edible kale outside the hoop, as it is incredibly hardy, but just a few collard leaves are still usable.

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This is a cyclamen plant we got as a house-warming gift eight years ago.  It spends the summers outside, but its bright flowers warm up the house each winter as it sits in our greenhouse kitchen window.

Seasonal adventure:  This morning we went to a Swedish Christmas Breakfast and Lucia Pageant at Hope Covenant Church.  It was great to enjoy traditional Swedish food, reminding us of our heritage.

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9 Responses to “Northern Cardinal – Illinois State Bird”

  1. It’s so nice to see Cardinals again. I haven’t seen one in a long time.

  2. bittster said

    I much prefer the milder version of December! I just read the story of how you ended up with the profusion crabapple…… Funny!
    Love the red of the cyclamen. I wish I had better windowsills here, but even when I did, these plants didn’t last more than a year, let alone eight!
    Frank

    • Glad you enjoyed my crabapple story! (See comments from last week). I give about a third of a cup of water to this cyclamen every morning. Usually I let house plants dry out, but I give this one a little water every day. In the summer I keep it in the shade and water it a lot.

  3. lolarugula said

    I love your photos! I’m here in Northern Illinois and just this morning saw a big, fat cardinal perched in one our bushes. They’re truly one of my favorite birds!

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