I’ll call this one ‘Cardinal Wolsey’


Christmas before last, my wife received a bird feeder for our deck. Things were going pretty well with the Wagner’s Eastern Regional Blend, except for the squirrels.

Initially, we defeated them by swinging the boom holding the feeder out over open space off the deck, but a few months back they figured out how to defeat that, and basically whenever we weren’t looking, they emptied the thing. I don’t know what it was they were so crazy about; maybe the sunflower seeds.

So a month or so ago I bought some seed at Lowe’s that would only attract smaller birds — and cardinals.

So what’s happened? The cardinals tend to hog it, and run the sparrows and wrens off.

And some of them have gotten pretty fat.

Get a load of this guy. Yeah, his feathers are kind of fluffed out, but he’s still rather large.

And he’s not even eating. He’s just sitting there, staking out territory. Very political, very wordly for a bird of the cloth.

I think I’ll call him “Wolsey”…

18 thoughts on “I’ll call this one ‘Cardinal Wolsey’

  1. Scout

    It is the sunflower seeds that the squirrels like. I feed safflower seed only. Maybe that’s what you’ve got. Squirrels don’t like it but a very good mix of birds do. We get cardinals, titmice, chickadees, wrens, house finches, and doves mostly. The Cardinals don’t run them off so much, but I also have multiple feeders so maybe that helps. The doves are hogs, though. If you put out suet, the mockingbirds are downright rude. I’m rambling. I’m a bird nerd.

    1. Rose

      We had to switch to safflower seed as well. Haven’t had any squirrel problems since. Also, the hawks and the owls in the neighborhood have helped!

    1. Brad Warthen

      Yeah, the colors aren’t true, but it was very sunny, and I was shooting through a window with a phone. All that kind of washed him out.

      This is Wolsey near the end, when King Henry has nearly hounded him to death…

      1. Norm Ivey

        Females are duller in appearance, which is common among birds because the female has to be hidden from predators while nesting. But then the male feeds the female during courtship, so if this is a female, she probably wouldn’t be at the feeder in the first place. I think you may need to institute an HB2-style bill at your feeder. (There’s a pun lurking in that sentence, but I can’t quite make it…)

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I was ASSUMING Cardinal Wolsey was a male, just one who has seen better days. Dull as his coloring is, it seems much redder than any female. (And if he’s NOT, Henry and Anne Boleyn REALLY have something to use against him.)

          We DO get females at the feeder — or at least around the feeder. I’ll see couples out there. I certainly hope they are mating pairs. I’d hate to see a male cardinal dine out with a female who wasn’t his mate

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              When the heat gets sub-tropical
              And the talk gets so topical

              Riot act – you can read me the riot act
              You can make me a matter of fact
              Or a villain in a million
              A slip of the tongue is gonna keep me civilian

              Riot Act

    2. Scout

      I think that may be an immature male. He doesn’t have the dark around his face yet or the red beak. He is probably duller because he is transitioning from the duller juvenile color but starting to get some of his bright red feathers.

  2. Norm Ivey

    We’ve tried several feeder designs to keep the squirrels out. The most entertaining method we found was using a shepherd’s crook to hang the feeder, and then wiping the crook’s staff with vegetable oil. There’s something satisfying about watching such a nimble nemesis scrabbling for a foothold. Our current feeder is spring-loaded. If anything heavier than a bird perches on it, the feeder openings close off, preventing access to the seed. But even that didn’t deter a raccoon we had a couple years ago which simply sat in a nearby hanging planter and pulled the feeder to him and scooped the seed out. We finally changed the seed mix, and that’s solved it, but we don’t get as nice a variety of birds now.

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