First of two parts
If there’s a singular song of spring, it’s the call of the Northern Cardinal.
That loud, distinctive whistle is often the earliest note of the morning in much of the country. When the full bird orchestra eventually joins in, the Cardinal still holds the first chair.
Ever since the virus chased us all into our homes, I’ve added a morning birding walk under the guise of exercise (a loophole where we live.) It’s an antidote to the uncertainty; the first arrivals of migration are showing up right on cue in eastern North Carolina, while the year-round birds are hard at work gathering food, building nests and pairing up.
Almost everywhere I walk, Northern Cardinals are there to serenade. Their repertoire is rich and familiar, including that flute-like “cheer-cheer” opening, their steady chirps, their staccato zip-zips that sound like something from a video game. It’s not too strong to call it incessant on some days.