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For birdwatchers, seeing red means only good news

Sat., March 8, 2014

Little kids in the Northwest miss out on one of nature’s gentle wonders.

They don’t get to see cardinals.

And that’s too bad, because those birds are really something.

To quote from the Cornell University ornithology guide: “The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off. Even the brown females sport a sharp red crest and warm red accents. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they’re still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning.”

I just wish Spokane kids got to see them.

Yes, I realize bird-watching opportunities do not rank up there with being warm and safe and loved. And, it’s true, we have some pretty cool birds in our neck of the woods. For instance, you can’t see magpies in much of the country.

Still, there is something about redbirds.

Sure, a child can see images of them on a computer or TV. And families do travel. So there’s always the chance little kids hereabouts will enjoy a first cardinal sighting somewhere down the road.

Please tell them I said hello.

If you grew up in the Northeast, Midwest or South, how much do you miss seeing cardinals?

Warm-up question: Once upon a time, certain diners having breakfast in restaurants on weekends enjoyed speculating about which young couples had a date the night before that unexpectedly turned into an adult sleepover. One telltale sign: Young women with wet hair. (The young man not having a blow-dryer at his residence.) Anyway, making guesses about this was entertainment, not judgment. But does anyone pay even the slightest attention to this anymore?

Today’s Slice question: What was the first indication that your child had not quite grasped a key theme in your birds and the bees talk?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Connie Burkhart shared photographic evidence of spirited revelry to make the case for Hope, Idaho, being the Inland Northwest’s center of the Mardi Gras universe.

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