Meet some fantastic Fathers, the Male Cardinals of Hot Springs National Park. On many occasions I have spotted Male Cardinals feeding Chicks, teaching flight school and taking the juveniles on field trips. They are loving patient and attentive even when multiple chicks are all vying for their attention.
As you will see in the images below Male Cardinals work very hard to be good parents. This is not to say the females don’t help as well, they stay with the young chicks as they learn to exit the nest. The males fetch food for the Chicks and as you can see in the last image keep a close eye on visitors in their neighborhood.
Nature is a wonderful teacher!
Much Love to ALL,
It’s been a busy two days so I have combined photos from yesterday and today. I started my hike yesterday with lovely Bunnies (Eastern Cottontails) grazing in the grass on the Peak Trail. As I crept into the glen slowly not wanting to startle them. For half an hour I enjoyed the beauty of these graceful creatures. As I slowly back up I glance to my side and saw I had attracted an audience. I imagine somewhere out in cyberspace are photos of me photographing the bunnies.
I ended yesterdays hike with a hilarious encounter with a sweet perhaps pregnant Chipmunk. I noticed it was climbing down the Tufa Rocks and coming toward me as I stood on the Tufa Terrace Trail. It came closer, closer and shot between my feet then headed up the terrace. After a moment she turned around and came back toward me and between my feet again. She went up a stump and sat in from of me, I can see the 106 degree heat has her feeling itchy. I think she is either pregnant or recently so.
This morning I hiked up the Dead Chief to the Short Cut Trail and up to the Mountain Top. The thunder storms from the night before and dark morning skies has the residence of the park hidden away. I decide to hike down the Mountain on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail to the Honeysuckle Trail and onto the Floral Trail.
I cross over to North Mountain and hike up the Floral to the Lower Dogwood Trail. I hike around the north side of the Trail, a surprise awaits me as I reach the west end. A sweet Northern Mockingbird Juvenile is in the Tree above me. It looks down at me then flies up to a top branch, picks a berry and holds it out for me to see.
Further along I see a flash of red moving through the Trees, a male Cardinal lands on the low branch. It does not stay long and moves to were a female is nesting with a new chick. It is a blessing to see this beautiful family in the Forest today. I cannot wait to get home and share my adventure with my Husband Rick.
Play in Nature everyday!
I love a hike that begins with a sweet Chipmunk appearing on the Trail. When I reached the upper level of the Tufa Terrace Trail a Chipmunk was standing on a Tufa Rock. The little baby could not decide whether it should hide or see what I was doing. It decides to come see what I am doing. As it draws closer I see it is missing fur from the bridge of it’s nose and behind one ear. It not easy living in the wild.
When I reach the Peak Trail I spot a pair of ears poking up in the grass. As I slowly move up the Trail I see a lovely rabbit. As I move closer it slips into the bushes and peers at me with it’s big sweet brown eyes. I am so happy to have seen another rabbit in the Forest.
I hike up the Dead Chief and Short Cut Trails to the top of Hot Springs Mountain. Connecting to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail I head over to the Lower Dogwood and Floral Trails. On the Floral Trail I see a lovely red bird moving through the bright green leaves. As it draws closer I can see the it is a gorgeous Summer Tanager. A wonderful surprise.
When I reach the bottom on the Floral Trail I see a beautiful Butterfly perched on the Trail guide sign. The sunlight glows through it’s beauty delicate wings. I wonder where it’s companions from yesterday have gone. I head down Fountain Street along the edge of the park. In the Tree above me a Male Cardinal sings a beautiful song. Since I witnessed the the males teaching their offspring how to find food I have great admiration for them.
At the base of a Tree along a park path a beautiful Squirrel forages for a morning meal. It carefully digs around each exposed root stopping to nibble on each newly found treat. In a Tree above the Arlington Lawn another Squirrel sneaks a peek at me as I prepare to get a closer look at the baby Cardinals hopping in the grass. A lovely trio of a baby birds are foraging for food, it is a beautiful sight. Further along by the hot water cascade I see a female Cardinal and molting male Cardinal. Near them is a lovely mom and baby Sparrow. It’s been a beautiful morning in the park.
Let Nature show you her beauty!
I headed up Fountain Street to check on wounded Mom Squirrel but she is now where to be seen. I feel sad and say a small prayer for her well being as I change directions to the Promenade. I have to hop over a millipede as I pivot on the sidewalk. When I reach the Tufa Terrace I hear a small sound but see nothing. I am about to move when a Chipmunk pops up from a hole in the ground. At first I see only a head, the sweet chipmunk looks around. Suddenly it is up and out looking around. I feel blessed when I am allowed this close contact, especially when I know they have seen me.
From the Tufa Terrace I take the Carriage Road and see a Male Cardinal with his chick, he teaching it to forage for food. The baby Cardinal appears to test the patience of their dad. At the trail head to the Dead Chief Trail I look down and see a beautiful patch of Blue Asiatic Dayflowers. They are all huddled around on of the Hot spring vents, their own tropical paradise.
I climb up the Dead Chief, I Love being on the trail in twilight, it is peaceful. When I reach the top I turn to see a lovely Tufted Titmouse sitting in the tree next to me. Since the Trees have become lush with leaves spotting the tiny birds has become rare. The memory of this sweet bird carries me up the Shot Cut Trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain.
I hike over to the Hot Spring Mountain Trail and head toward North Mountain. When I reach the gap between Hot Springs and North Mountains I spot a patch of lovely Black-Eyed Susans. As I cross over on to North Mountain more Color fungi appear. On the Upper Dogwood the Fungi are mostly yellow or a golden color, turning to cream and beige along the Lower Dogwood Trail. As I leave the Mountain on the Floral Trail I can see beautiful Daylilies as I exit trail.
Heading home on Fountain Street I stop to check on wounded Mom Squirrel, still no sign of her.
Hold a place in your heart for Nature…
I am heading up Fountain Street to the Road entrance to check out the morning Fungi. Last night Rick and I took a late mini hike and spotted a lovely squirrel Mom eating the colorful Fungi in the grass. She seemed to be fond of the ones with red tops, even carrying a big piece up a Tree. When I arrive this morning I am happy to see many new fungi bursting forth. It’s exciting to see the new crop as they are enjoyed by the Squirrels and Chipmunks.
I decide to hike up the top of North Mountain to the North side of the Upper Dogwood Trail in hopes of seeing a Box Turtle or Snake. As I travel up the Floral Trail I spot two baby Snakes racing in and out of the leaves on the side of the trail. They are very fast!
I connect with the Lower Dogwood Trail then hike up to the top of the Upper Dogwood Trail. The Trail is filled with bird song and in the Twilight I spot a sweet little Nuthatch hoping up as down a Tree. I continue my hike listening and hoping to spot a Box Turtle. I notice a large branch has recently fallen leaving a hole in the canopy above. At the Trail head I decided to hike up to the overlook and then down the Loop Road to the Hot Springs Mountain Trail.
When I reach the trail I can see movement up ahead. As I pick up my pace I realize it is a Box Turtle, not where I expected to see one. It is a wonderful male Box Turtle with gorgeous head and leg markings. I watch as he makes his way into the the Forest ground cover. Further along the Trail I see a blue green insect crawling along the path. On closer inspection I see it is an amazing metallic greenish blue beetle, it is dazzling in the sunlight.
I take the Honeysuckle Trail to the Floral Trail and begin my hike off Hot Springs Mountain. As I near the end of the Trail a beautiful black Butterfly lands on a leaf to my side. It does not settle long and it is flitting from leaf to leaf. It’s a lovely sight as the sun hits the blue and orange on it’s wings.
The park has been a place of peaceful beauty and I feel an inner calm as I head home on Fountain Street. Approaching the Arlington Lawn at the main entrance to the park I hear fluttering and chirping. As I near the lawn a lesson is unfolding before my eyes. A male Cardinal is feeding his babies while the female stands watching. The two babies are following their Dad across the lawn, he is showing them how to get seeds from the lawn. The two babies seem unready to feed themselves and are constantly squawking to be fed. Dad is very patient, it is a wonderful way to end my morning.
Nature reveals many surprises.
Love to You ALL!