When I was growing up in Eastern Washington State, the only Cardinals we ever saw were those on Christmas cards. But whenever we opened one of those cards, my mother (who was born and raised in Kentucky) would always mention that it was her favorite bird when she was a child.
That made quite an impression on me because really my parents weren't what you would call nature lovers. In fact, our family didn't do much outside at all, but my mother had grown up in the country and ridden horses and (apparently) enjoyed nature before she migrated out west. I liked hearing about what seemed to me her different and exotic past life.
So I didn't see a real cardinal until years and years later when Bill and I traveled South for the first time. And when we saw our first one as we were driving, I yelled for him to stop the truck ... I was so excited. I did soon realize that these were fairly common birds in other parts of the country ... they just don't hang out in the Pacific Northwest. Although we see them more often nowadays, I still get excited... they'll never be a commonplace bird to me.
This cardinal is one we spotted on a day trip here in Florida just last month. He kept posing so beautifully that I thought the least I could do was to post him to WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY. Thank you Stewart.