Fire on Ice
A flame, brilliant red,
shoots out of the icy ground.
The cardinal soars.
Not surprisingly, bright red cardinals against a backdrop of pure snow is a common theme in holiday cards. The contrast of color and the symbolism of hot and cold, fire and ice make for arresting photographs.
With cardinals, the onus of looking great so that the bird can win over a mate is squarely on the shoulders of the male. His color needs to be bright to show that he is healthy and thus would be a good provider for his mate and brood. Females would choose the most brilliantly colored male to ensure survival of their family.
Male cardinals would attack other males of the species to preserve their territory and family. Sometimes the other fellow is its own reflection. We once had a cardinal peck so aggressively at its reflection in the glass door of the deck that he would have certainly hurt himself if we did not manage to shoo him away. Beautiful, but not too brainy, I say. But then, that is what he is genetically wired to do.
In humans, the role of looking attractive is reversed. As we know, it is mostly the woman who gets adorned to attract mates. Although this may often feel like a chore, I appreciate that we are able to be comfortable and drab at times, but then can get dressed to the nines when we decide to do so. I would neither like to have to be looking wonderful all the time, or to be forever drab.