The cardinal is my favourite Northeastern songbird. This is partly because the bright red male is so gorgeous, and the drabber female really isn’t that bad, either. And they’ve both got pipes. The other day they were singing a duet together and it was really beautiful.
The other thing about the cardinal song is that it’s so various. Sometimes they sound like guinea pigs (“mweep, mweep!”). Sometimes they sound like little boys pretending to shoot each other (“piuuu, piuuu!”). And sometimes they trill and sing cadenzas and sound as if they’re going to burst with happiness. I love taking Oscar for walks in the morning at this time of year because all the songbirds (not just the cardinals) are usually a joyful singing orchestra, even if the morning is sort of murky like this one. Sometimes I imagine I can hear little words and refrains in the birdsong. For example, there’s one bird who constantly sings, “Eric! Eric! Eric!” I have no idea who the bird is or who Eric is, but I’ve thought this about that song since I was a kid.
This morning when I woke up, I said to Oscar, “Christ is risen!” because he was the only one around I could say it to, but also because I really do believe Christ’s death and resurrection were about reconciling all of creation to God. Oscar couldn’t say back, “He is risen indeed,” but he did watch The Passion of the Christ with us the other night, so I think he knows something about it.
Then we went outside for his walk. Today, as usual, the birds, and especially the cardinals, were going to town, and it sounded for all the world like Mr. Cardinal was singing, “Worship! Worship! Worship! Worship! Christ Christ Christ Christ Christ Christ Christ!” He kept singing that until I was a third of the way around the block, and then another cardinal took it up at the bottom of the street, singing invisibly, and more throatily, from the marsh down there. Then they stopped for a while to give some of the other birds a chance. (None of those birds sang with words, except for maybe one who sounded for all the world like he was good-naturedly but not very respectfully singing, “Peter! Peter! Hehehehehehehe!”) By the time I got back up to the corner to turn back onto my street, there was the cardinal again, sitting on the telephone wire a few feet down from the robin, this time warbling, “Praise! Praise! Praise! Praise! God God God God God God God!”
Praise God, indeed. Because the Messiah is risen!