As most of you know, I developed a relationship of sorts with birds after the death of my mother a couple of years ago. It’s a fine line to walk when you’re writing about birds you feel are visiting you from “up there”, but when it’s happening to you there is no denying the possibility.
As the holidays approach, the cardinals are popping even more now against grey skies and barren trees. The luscious, bright, bold red color is just heavenly. Heavenly… can we talk about this for a minute?
Many have contacted me regarding their own experiences with cardinals after losing a family member. They speak of times when in need of advice, or feeling down, a cardinal will appear out of nowhere. If you google “cardinal symbolism” this quote shows up frequently in the results:
“A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.” – author unknown
Don’t believe? Keep reading…
A few days ago, I came across this photo in a photography group I belong to on Facebook. I thought it was another cleverly photoshopped image… until I read the actual post.
“Not really an artistic shot but a personal favorite. This was shot a few days after my mother’s death after a late winter storm. She would have loved to see this! I inherited my love of birds from her. There were more than 80 cardinals that morning , I only managed to get 50+ in the picture. And no, this is not photoshopped! I’ve never seen anything like this since that day.” – Jean Kuns
This photo already had 422 likes, 28 shares, and 67 empathetic comments from believers and other members who were equally amazed. I contacted Jean Kuns immediately feeling elated that I had found another “human” who has experienced and documented such an experience. This was, after all, an incredible justification of my own experiences.
I asked Jean’s permission to share the photo, and kindly she sent it along with a few others from that day. The following image of hers took my breath away. Never have I seen so many male cardinals huddled so closely together in one spot. They are incredibly territorial, so this is an unusually rare sight.
- The male cardinal fiercely defends its breeding territory from other males. When a male sees its reflection in glass surfaces, it frequently will spend hours fighting the imaginary intruder. – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
I’m still stunned by the number of cardinals in these images, and since first laying eyes on them these photos have not left my mind. Yesterday, I looked out of our kitchen window and saw two males perched up high in our tree.
An unusual sight and sign for me to get writing and tell the story. Would love to hear yours if you’d like to share, and if you want to dive deeper check out the following links dedicated to cardinal symbolism with similar stories:
Pinterest – remember this photo that circulated all social media sites?
The Power of The Red Bird – a blog post by Michele Cozzens.
So, keep those eyes open for a little red visitor. You could be driving down a road and see a flash of red fly in front, or over, you. Out for a walk you may hear one, or see one perched in a tree you’re walking by. That sight just might give you the pick-me-up you need if you’re missing someone over the holidays, or any time of year.
Thank you, Jean Kuns, for your beautiful images above and for letting me share your wonderful photographs.
Cheers, and wishing you all the best for the holidays!
P.S. Just went onto Instagram and look what was posted by the Audubon Society just minutes after I published this blog post. 🙂