The Curious Cardinal

In wintertime, the bright red and black cardinal birds stand out against the bleak winter colors. It seems as if these birds come to remind us, humans, that spring is on its way. I always loved these birds and welcomed their presence. This changed this past winter.  

In December, a couple of cardinals started pecking morning and evening on one window, then another, and another; they seem to follow me as if trying to get my attention or enter the house. At first I was worried that they may hurt themselves by hitting the window continuously but they kept coming strong, increasing intensity and frequency.  

I have lived at my house for 20 years and this is the first time this happened. My father in-law passed away shortly before this behavior started so I thought maybe his spirit is channeled through these birds. My relationship with my father-in-law was not a warm one so I thought that maybe he came back to annoy me. Whether it was him or not, it was working. This pair of cardinals was taking turns pecking the windows and I felt helpless in trying to stop them.  

I did some research and found out that cardinals are territorial birds and when they see their reflection in the window they think it is another bird. I tried several techniques to stop this behavior: I taped a large image of a face in the window, covered it with newspaper and rubbed soap on the window. Nothing helped. These birds were determined to drive me crazy. This lasted until March when I finally covered the window with a matt film, on the outside. That did the trick. Or maybe it was the warm weather or Covid19?  

I later saw this pair attacking a side-view mirror of a car parked in front of my house. I can only guess that they like to look at themselves as much as we like them but their territorial nature kicks in immediately. Otherwise, why do they seek their own reflection?

That way the inspiration for this painting.