Thursday, September 08, 2005

wheat, wheat, what-cheer, what-cheer

There was this lovely little bird outside my study window. It was bright red, had a narrow, sharp beak and looked like some kind of a woodpecker. But it's almost-absurd redness made me curious. Was this some woodpecker? Or maybe it was some rara avis right in my backyard. I had to find out.

(Above pic courtesy Flickr member Amerune. All rights as per Flickr's terms)

Since Google sadly lacks a real physical interface, by which I mean one cannot shove a live bird into the hungry jaws of the search engine, the "Complete Field Guide to American Wildlife (East, Central & North), By Henry Hill Collins, jr" came to my rescue.

The bird was, of course, the Richmondena Cardinalis, also known as the "Cardinal" or the American Red Bird. "Wheat, wheat, what-cheer, what-cheer" is the whistle of the cardinal.

Another interesting fact about the red bird: a hundred years ago, it was rare to see this bird north of Philadelphia. (source:

What cheer, what cheer.

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