London

5 things you may not know about London's new official bird: the Northern Cardinal

Last month, the London Bird Team, working in co-operation with the City of London, polled people on which species should become the southwestern Ontario city's official bird. A third of the 6,000 votes chose the Northern Cardinal to represent the Forest City, and that was enough to seal the deal.

Londoners polled chose the red bird to represent the southwestern Ontario city

A third of 6,000 Londoners who cast votes chose the Northern Cardinal to be named the southwestern Ontario city's official bird. (London's Bird Team)

London, meet your official bird: the Northern Cardinal. 

Last month, the London Bird Team, working in co-operation with the City of London, polled people on which species should become the southwestern Ontario city's official bird. A third of the 6,000 votes chose the Northern Cardinal to represent the Forest City, and that was enough to seal the deal.

Brendon Samuels, a PhD student in biology at Western University and co-ordinator for the bird team, spoke with London Morning's Rebecca Zandbergen for a quick 101 on the red bird.

Here are five things you may not have known about the Northern Cardinal:

1. They don't migrate

"They're able to do that because they've got a number of adaptations that allow them to survive in the cold. They've got really dense feathers. They have behaviours that help keep them out of the cold, like being low to the ground when it's windy."

2. They have a really varied diet

"In spring, summer and fall, they eat insects, but in the winter, they can switch to eating fruit, seeds or other nuts, things that they find abundant in the wintertime."

3. They're very sweet

"The male birds will feed the female birds as part of their courtship. You'll often see them hopping around in the grass, sharing food."

4. The males are ferocious

"If you work with birds and ever have one in your hands, you have to be very careful not to lose a finger. They have a very strong bite with their beak. They will clamp down on you like nothing else." 

5. London is known as the cardinal capital of Canada

"Each year when we go out and do the Christmas bird count in wintertime, we find a lot of cardinals, more than we find in surrounding areas, which is part of why cardinal is such a fitting bird for London. It's quite warm and wet here, so it provides abundant food for them."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 20 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna. Contact Rebecca at rebecca.zandbergen@cbc.ca or follow @rebeccazandberg on Twitter.

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