This Cardinal Bird Rescue Story Is Simply Amazing

A backyard birder had to get creative to rescue a female cardinal. Read the dramatic story of how she managed to get the songbird to safety.

The Great Cardinal Rescue

Bbxjanshs 49691836Tony Campbell/
A female cardinal found herself in a tight spot on a cold winter day

Birds & Blooms reader Lisa Goad of Vinton, Virginia, shared this amazing story of a cardinal rescue in her own backyard. “On a 21-degree January morning, I heard scratching inside one of our gazebo columns, which are 8 feet tall and hollow. A female cardinal (similar to the one above) had found her way inside.

My aunt and I tried lowering a rope down inside the column for the bird to grab, but with no success. Then we thought a long mesh scarf might be easier for her to clutch, but she didn’t take that, either. Even lowering a peanut butter-covered pinecone didn’t tempt her out.”

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Another Idea

Lisa continues, “Then my son tied a small plastic container to some fishing line and lowered the contraption down the column. The bird actually hopped into the container, and we were thrilled— but halfway up she shuffled out. Still hopeful, he lowered it again. Again, the cardinal stepped into the container. This time, she stayed there about two-thirds of the way up before hopping out.”

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Persistence Pays Off

These determined rescuers did not give up. “On the third try, my son pulled even more gently, slowly hoisting the cardinal upward in her makeshift elevator car. Finally, she made it to the top of the column! She flitted right off to a nearby fence, where several other cardinals had sat all morning watching us rescue their comrade. Since then, we’ve covered our columns to prevent this from happening again,” Lisa says.

Backyard Tip: In warmer months, you’ll see cardinals in breeding pairs, but in fall and winter, they may form flocks of up to several dozen birds.

Next, check out 25 simply stunning cardinal bird pictures.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.