The other day we were in the backyard cooking dinner on the barbecue when my husband noticed a very tiny frog (or toad - I'm not sure which) sitting on the patio. I decided to catch him (the frog, not my husband) and move it to the back of the yard so Velvet wouldn't discover it and decide that was dinner - yes, she's gross :)
So, I put the little guy in a bucket and passed beneath our large maple tree when I caught something fluttering about from the corner of my eye. It was a female cardinal. She was having a very difficult time flying. Up and down and all around, never getting very high in the air. I hurried past and knelt to dispose of the frog in a large bush. When I looked up, there was a male cardinal sitting there, staring at me. It was really kind of eerie. So, I turned quickly to go back toward the house when the female flew right past my face, then nearly hit the ground, then back up about waist level. I was startled having almost ran into her. When I had cleared the area where she had been flapping about, I turned and she was laying on the ground on her back, her chest heaving quickly like she was out of breath. I took a step closer and she was suddenly still.
It was so sad. I looked up and saw the male cardinal hopping from one branch to another still on the same large bush. He was flapping his wings. I went back to the house and decided to deal with it tomorrow; maybe the male would be gone by then.
My husband had seen the whole thing from his spot next to the barbeque and said that was probably best, just wait until morning. I went inside to finish with dinner things and looked out the window every now and then to find the male cardinal, sitting there on the lawn next to the female. My husband said he stayed there for at least 5 minutes before returning to his perch on the bush. We watched him watching her, lying so very still on the lawn.
I was so amazed. I had no idea that cardinals held this type of bond for their mates. I felt helpless. It was such a tragedy.
Soon it was nightfall and we could no longer see the birds in the distance.
The next morning, I awoke and took Velvet out for her morning constitutional. I slowly walked to the back of the yard to see the poor fallen cardinal and expected to see her husband still sitting there in the bush beyond where she laid, but when I got to the spot, I couldn't find her, and I didn't see him. It may be farfetched, but I imagined that she was so scared that she only pretended to be dead, and that her dear sweet husband was watching over her, giving her time to recouperate, waiting for the humans to disappear. And, when the time was right, she was able to fly away with him and escape harm.