Cardinals vs Chickadees and Titmice

Being the most frequent wild birds at my feeders, I have become familiar with cardinals as well as titmice and their relatives, the chickadees.
I have noticed over time that cardinals tend to be very nervous and are very quick to flee from the feeders and head for cover in reaction to the slightest unexpected sights and sounds. Whereas, titmice and chickadees display polar opposite behavior.
For instance, as I open the back door of the house and step out, the titmice and chickadees seem to make every effort either to grab every last seed possible, or take the chance on cracking a striped sunflower seed as I walk out the door.
 What gives titmice and chickadees behavior so opposite of cardinals?
Chickadees are naturally bold and inquisitive, positioning them to lead their seasonal groups, with titmice secondary in lead.
The chickadees inquisitiveness and boldness go hand-in-hand, enabling them to expand their territory and keep their group safe and in order by means of their dominating communication.
Cardinals, on the other hand, have quite the opposite position in the pecking order. They instinctively group with sparrows and other ground feeders, and react in line with the actions of sparrows.
In order to follow the lead of sparrows at any given time, cardinals would need to give constant attention to their surroundings, possibly giving them instinctive reason to jerk their head from side to side.
This jerky behavior, synchronized with the thrust of their tail, and their widely recognized click combine and give cardinals a nervous behavior.
 Why Should cardinals follow the lead of sparrows?
It is possible that being a ground forager gives cardinals and their co-ground dwellers a lesser eye view of predators. Thus, a need for a bolder, alert ground-feeding member may be in order – and sparrows may well fill that role.
While cardinals are feeder visitors (as well as chickadees and titmice), I have slanted this article toward the ground feeding behavior of cardinals.
Cardinals vs. Chickadees and Titmice‘ was written based upon my personal observations of the wild birds feeding in my backyard… and I hope you find it interesting.

– Craig Curtis
 
 

1 thought on “Cardinals vs Chickadees and Titmice”

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