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The Xenophile Historian

K. U. P.

(Kimball's Unauthorized Perversion)

By the Grace of God and a Female Cardinal

A rabbi once told me that "A coincidence is G-d working incognito," and there sure seem to be a lot of coincidences in my life for 2006. Some of them have to do with a little brown bird I rescued from a cat at the beginning of the year, hence the title.

A female cardinal in the snow
It's easy to tell a male cardinal from a female. Females are the same size and shape as the more familiar males, but are brown instead of red.

Anyway, on the morning of January 2, 2006, we were all sitting around the house, because nobody had to go anywhere that day. My wife alerted me to a frantic chirping sound in the front yard, as if a cat had caught a bird. I went out there, but did not see any cat; it must have run off when I opened the door. However, I did see a small female cardinal sitting in the driveway. I got her into a little box and brought her inside. Chico, our pet cockatiel, had died nearly three weeks earlier, so we had an empty cage to put her in. She had an injured wing, and I called the local chapter of the Audubon Society to see what they could do; they referred me to a lady in Altamonte Springs, FL, that took care of injured birds. Therefore I took the cardinal over there, but not before my wife got a chance to name her--Carol the Cardinal.

I left Carol with the "Bird Lady," told her to keep an eye out for any cockatiels she might get (to replace Chico), and wrote a check because she lives off the donations of those who bring her birds. I thought that was the end of the matter, and I would never hear from Carol again, whether or not she got better. Well, in the middle of March I got a call from the Bird Lady, announcing that Carol had made a complete recovery and was ready to be released. The wing had healed after three weeks, but Carol was then kept for another month, to make sure she regained enough strength to fly. She was eager to go, all right; wild birds have definite temperaments when in captivity. According to the Bird Lady, a male bird will eventually calm down, once he realizes you're not going to kill him, but a female bird only has one thing on her mind--escape! I had to take my daughter out of town that day, so instead of waiting for me to come back, the Bird Lady sent Carol back to my neighborhood with some friends, to be released as close as possible to the place where I found her, because she might have left a mate behind.

On two occasions after that I saw a female cardinal outside my Florida house. I learned later that they don't migrate, and tend to spend their whole lives within a mile of where they hatched, so for all I know it could have been Carol. The first time was around the end of April, and the second time was on August 12--the day of my daughter's wedding.

By the way, the Bird Lady did receive a cockatiel after Carol recovered, a very dark grey male that the previous owner no longer wanted to care for. He seemed a nice enough bird when I went over to meet him, but he wasn't particularly interested in me; he chirped at everything and everybody. He ended up going home with a lady he was more interested in. That lady was looking for a companion to keep her African grey parrot company when she was at work, so I hope the 'tiel did all right. African greys are so intelligent that I heard they mentally abuse other pets when they learn to talk, driving them crazy by imitating the owner's voice!

It may be just as well I didn't take the cockatiel home. In April I got a job offer from Kentucky that was better than any job I ever had in Florida, and it would have been hard to transport a pet up there in my car, or take care of him while I'm living alone in an apartment. Anyway, I read up a bit on Kentucky before moving, and found out that the cardinal is the state bird. Was Carol an omen, a sign of what the future might bring? There also were a pair of cardinals living in a tree right behind my first apartment in Kentucky. Finally, I could mention that the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series while I was composing this essay--but that's taking coincidences a little too far!

Cardinals logo

Of course there may be no connection between these incidents involving cardinals, but they got me thinking. If God rewards those who are kind to animals, that would explain everything to me; I must be an example of it now!

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