Tiny buds appear on the branches once more, the fresh scent of pine permeates the air and the morning dew rises from the ground, and into the mist of the sky. Another winter has been survived, and another spring arrived. One of the most distinguishable signs of early spring in these forests is that the elegant song of the Northern Cardinal can be heard; the Northern Cardinal sings only during its breeding season that stretches from the beginning of spring until the middle of summer.  While the call of the male can be heard first to establish its territory, unlike most northern songbirds, the female cardinal also sings. The song of the female cardinal is one of the most beautiful chants in the entire world, and it is a song that will stir the ever fortunate hearts of its listeners.

            She does not fly south during the harsh winters; rather, she endures placidly. She spends her entire lifetime within a one-mile radius of her birthplace. Perched on the branches of redwoods and pines, the mating partners have a monogamous breeding relationship, one that separates them from most other birds, and every year when spring arrives, the cardinals sing to reunite with their lovers. Through this glorious song alone, the cardinal is able to rediscover its partner.

            Dignified and serene, she sits and sings. Her song rises above those of her sisters, her mighty euphony eclipses the songs of the other songbirds, and in it can be heard the spectrum of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, compassion and grace that she endures. Grace continues to sing her song, she sings even though her chant has gone unanswered for several springs now. While the song of the cardinal ceases when they mate and begin nesting, the song of Grace has continued unanswered; in all its splendor and eloquence her song has continued throughout the length of the spring and of the summer this year, as it has for several summers past. Grace sings faithfully, awaiting the return of her valiant red knight with his black face and coral beak.

            In her tiny beating heart, Grace knows that he will not return; she knows that she will not hear his high pitched chirp again. She knows that she will neither breed nor nest again, and yet she continues to sing, with the silent hope that her call may one day be answered, and that the triumphant joys of springtime will be hers again.

            Grace also knows deep within her precious heart, that in his absence he has given her more than he could have with his presence. In his absence, he has helped her to find her own song, a melody that has eclipsed all other songs, a song so unique that it is only for her to sing. It is this song that was his gift to her, and it is this song that is her gift to the world. This song that she shares freely with the ears of the Earth is the highest of gifts that can be bestowed upon any, for it is the very song of life that passes through her.

            Another summer passes, autumn arrives, and soon she will stoically endure the harsh winter once more, in the selfsame manner in which she sings.  When the tiny buds and new leaves appear once more on the tree branches, the fresh scent of pine again permeates the air, and spring arrives anew, she will sing once more, with devotion and grace.  When you hear the song of the female Northern Cardinal, know that she is awaiting the return of her lover, and, please, remember the story of Grace.