Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of April 14, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,
QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

MEXICAN CARDINALS

Some mornings a Cardinal sings in a Sweet Acacia right outside my casita. The song is indistinguishable from how it sounds up north. The liquid CHEW-CHEW-CHEW-CHEW stirs up childhood memories of my mother in spring-green Kentucky grass hanging big white sheets on the clothesline, the sheets flapping and snapping in chilly, moist April wind as "Red Bird" calls from the Flowering Peach tree. And I remember what a sight a Cardinal was singing in a dark green, Mississippi magnolia. CHEW-CHEW-CHEW-CHEW and I look at the parched, wrinkled skin on my hands and arms and wonder how I got from there to here.

Cardinals down here are the very same species that are so common and eye-catching in Eastern North America's woods and suburbs, and the US Desert Southwest. The Northern Cardinal's distribution extends deep into Mexico all the way along the Gulf Coast to the Yucatan and northern Guatemala and Belize. It's an unusual distribution that must hint at something in the species' evolutionary history.

If you're in a part of the world without Cardinals you need to know what gorgeous beings they are. There's a resplendent male perched among blossoming Ocotillos at http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2006/04/27/camouflaged-northern-cardinal/.