I know Northern Cardinals aren't among the most sought after birds, but I think they are positively gorgeous,. When I 1st bought my house, they would sit on the back fence but would never come to the feeder. In time I learned that the lone feeder amidst a barren expanse of lawn made them feel like "sitting ducks". I worked hard to make them feel at home. For the 1st few years they would only come to the feeder when I was inside. Then slowly, and much to my delight they began to trust me enough to venture into the garden with me. I can tell when they are around from the "click, click" sound they make. Recently, I've begun to notice that the "click,click" sound is a constant in my humble garden.
Now, and I am SO giddy with excitement, the female has built her nest in the rose arbor just outside my back door. It is, at best, 10' from the edge of my patio. Even more incredible, while the arbor is 8' tall, she built the nest at about chest height on me (and I am not tall).I know that the bramble of rose canes will afford her and her new family a good degree of cover. But I can't help but feel that by choosing to build her nest so close to my house, she must feel somewhat comfortable in my presence and reasonably confident that I won't harm her babies. I spend a lot of time in the backyard garden and walk by her new nesting site several times a day. As she has spent a lot of time in my garden, she must know this. I am SO honored to have her nesting in my garden.
This leads me to a few questions: (1) I don't want to freighten her away, but I have to go out there several times a day and night, both to work in the garden and to take my dog out (small, 4lb maltese, very calm). I think that she must have seen me and the dog coming and going many, many times before. Do you think that she will be scared away by my presence? I plan to ignore her, avoid looking at her, and stay away from her nest - at least as much as possible. (2) Since her nest is 4-4.5' off the ground, I am a little concerned for the welfare of her babies. On the plus side, the roses are vicious, and they will be growing more brambles all around her soon. But opposums and racoons frequently raid my backyard in search of food. I'm thinking Cardinal eggs would seem tasty to them. Is there anything that I can do to help protect her or should I assume that she knows a lot more about raising her family than I do - and just but out? I've been taking the feeders in as soon as possible after dusk so they won't serve as a calling card for hungry wildlife.