The Christmas Card Bird by Terry W. Johnson

Male cardinal on honeysuckle is thankful for Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and all they do to promote and protect our environment, especially our fine feathered friends.


You may read Georgia Wild — GDNR’s online newsletter — by clicking here.

 You’ll enjoy this delightful article by Terry W. Johnson:

The tradition of sending Christmas cards is said to have begun in England in 1843, with cards being printed in the U.S. as early as the 1870s.

Since, Christmas cards have been graced with a veritable flock of birds.

But there is one bird that has been on more cards than all others – the northern cardinal.  More than likely, the color is key.

The male cardinal’s crimson red matches the robes worn by many members of the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals. Of course, red is also one of the most common Christmas colors, including Santa’s suit and holly berries.

Did you know:

  • For more than a century, cardinals have been expanding their range northward?
  • It’s not too early to begin the behavior changes that cardinals will undergo from winter through breeding season, including a fascinating practice called countersinging?
  • A few simple things can transform your yard into a haven for cardinals?

   Find the answers and more about the Christmas card bird in Terry’s complete “Out my backdoor” column.

   Terry W. Johnson is a former Nongame program manager with the Wildlife Resources Division and executive director of TERN, the Nongame Conservation Section’s friends group. His columns are archived here.