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I have one observation to contribute to this yearly discussion.  For several
weeks, I have had a rather odd looking female cardinal at my feeder.  She
has no crest, and no facial feathers, so the dark skin around her eye is
exposed, and gives her a rather bug-eyed appearance.  What makes me think
she is a fledgling rather than a molting adult,  is that on one occasion she
was on the feeder with a male cardinal, and though both were feeding from
the trough, the male would occasionally turn toward her and put a seed in
her mouth.  I seem to always have only one pair of cardinals, and there is a
crested female coming to the feeder as well, so I don't think this is
courting behavior, and mid-August is probably rather late for that anyway.

Eric Lazarus
Burlington