I was lying in bed this morning, watching a movie, when I noticed a squirrel hop onto the side of the bedroom patio trellis. I thought this was a litlte strange so I leaned forward and looked out the window. I couldn't see any other squirrels, though I assumed it was another male chasing the squirrel away. A few minutes later, it happened again, then again. I stood up and walked to the window, careful to stay to the side so they wouldn't see me, and then I saw a deep red, large male cardinal flying onto the patio, chasing the squirrel away from the food dish. I quickly ran outside and refilled the bird dishes--they seem to eat more when it's cold outside and we've had very cold weather the past few days.
This isn't the first time I've seen a bird chase squirrels away. We had two bluebirds in the backyard last year and they would chase the squirrels away from the corn cobs. They would wait until the squirrels loosened the corn nibs with their teeth, chewed out the white section then dropped the rest back onto the tree branch, then the birds would chase off the squirrels and eat what was left of the corn niblet.
The cardinal surprised me, though. I've never seen them chase squirrels. In Colorado, I watched a squirrel in the park who liked to run up the trees and chase away the crows, but the birds chasing the squirrels seems odd as the squirrels are so much larger.
Male cardinals can be very aggressive, though. In the spring, during mating season, they attack each other often, trying to establish a heirarchy in their tiny flocks as well as fighting over females. We often have bird strikes on our huge picture windows and more often than not it is the cardinals. They see their own reflection, puff out the chest and attack. We even saw a cardinal attacking the side mirror on my husband's truck once. It would back off, then dive, back off, then dive. It may sound funny, but it's a serious situation for the birds as they can easily break their own necks.
This has happened a few times in the four years we've lived in the house. I have a small animal cemetery beneath the wysteria vines. I bury them with cards that my artist-sister made with drawings of angels and a little seed, then I pray over thier grave. I know some may find this eccentric, but I believe all God's creatures deserve to be recognized for the contribution they made on this earth and honored for their beauty and grace, their precious gifts from God that make them gifts from God to us.