A cardinal chick I rescued from my truck bed while I observed and photographed its parents’ protective behavior during the ordeal.
This is an unusual post for me but it’s a true story of something that happened to me that I want to share. None of these photos are staged nor are they composites. I used two different cameras to capture these photos, my Canon and iPhone. These photos were all taken over the course of 25 minutes in the exact order as seen in this post.
The Cardinal Chick
I was staying at my brother’s house while his family was out of town. One day, as I glanced out the window, I noticed a lot of commotion and chirping by a couple of birds around my truck. They were flying and hopping around, even landing on the edge of my bed. So I grabbed my camera and went outside to see what was going on.
As I approached my truck I heard a bunch of squawking coming from the bed and then I saw it. It was a baby bird yelling for help. Because it was unable to fly, it couldn’t get out.
As I looked at the baby bird, I saw two other birds nearby that I quickly realized were both cardinals, the orange one was the female cardinal and the red one was the male. They were both also chirping at me, viewing me as a threatening predator. It was obvious they were trying to scare me away from their helpless cardinal chick.
Unfortunately, the parents were also helpless, they couldn’t do anything to get the cardinal chick out. I stood back and observed them for a few minutes. The mother would land on the edge of my truck bed and squawk at the baby as if yelling at it would help it out. The father kept flying around from a distance, keeping a watchful eye from a high level.
After seeing all this go on for several minutes I decided to help the cardinal chick out of my truck. I slowly walked up to my truck bed and opened the tailgate but it wouldn’t go out. So I had to gently shoo it out of the truck which it did.
As I was shooing the cardinal chick out of the truck the mother and father cardinals perched on a nearby fence, intently watching everything I was doing as they loudly chirped at me. I felt their desperation so I tried to reassure them with calm words.
The cardinal chick was now in the driveway, which was a very unsafe place for it to be. Again, I gently shooed it, but this time towards the backyard where the parents were perched and watching me. As soon as the baby bird was in the grass the mother went right to it. She went to see if her baby chick was okay.
She then guided the chick to a spot under a decorative wheelbarrow. They stayed there for a few minutes, waiting, probably waiting to see what I would do next.
While I was watching and photographing the mother and baby cardinals, the father flew onto a twig that placed him between me and the mother and her baby. Seeing how protective they were over their baby was so precious.
A few minutes later, the three of them headed across the backyard together. The cardinal chick bounced up and down trying to fly and keep up with its parents.
Eventually, they reached the tree line and disappeared into the thicket.
It was such a cool experience for me to witness all that and photograph it.