Unrequited Cardinal Love

This morning I was awakened by a clicking noise I couldn’t identify. It came about every three seconds, a sharp click like the sound of a piece of hail or an acorn hitting a window. But there was no wind or storm, so I tried to think of some electrical appliance that might be signaling an impending demise. The sound stopped for a few minutes, then started again, so I got up to investigate. Went room to room trying to track it down, and finally found it in my office.

It was a female cardinal, flying over and over again at the window and banging her beak on the glass. I’ve had other birds hurl themselves at windows because they saw their own reflection in the glass, but I think they were all males intending to drive away an intruder. Dismayed, I tried to put myself into the mind of this dogged female. When I did that, the mystery was solved. Wind chimes hang from the top of that window, and the wind chimes are topped by a carved red bird. Like a male cardinal. Apparently, the girl cardinal outside my window had become smitten by that bright red bird.

I called a neighbor, who climbed up to the mobile and took it down. The cardinal made a few more stabs at the glass, then withdrew to a branch of the bougainvillea outside the window and looked sad. After a while she flew away, probably feeling rejected. I understood how she felt. If I could speak cardinal language, I’d go outside and tell her, “Honey, it never would have worked. He was only a pretty face.”

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