|Thanks, katmystiry for the lovely photo!|
But aside from their beauty, did you know that having cardinals in your yard is actually healthy, too? Seriously. A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, noted that cardinals are good for our health.
The findings are related to a study at Emory University in Atlanta where there are fewer cases of people infected with the West Nile virus than in other cities with similar demographics. What's the difference? Cardinals.
The West Nile virus shows up in approximately 30% of birds in Atlanta. In Chicago, the number is lower at 18.5%. But throughout the state of Illinois, there have been 2,088 cases of West Nile in humans since 2002. In Georgia during that same period, the number drops to only 330 cases.
Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus feed on robins and other birds, which then spreads to people. However, the opposite happens when they feed on cardinals. For some reason, after feeding on cardinals, the virus is suppressed.
Moral of the story: provide an ideal habitat for cardinals and your chances of contracting West Nile virus drop dramatically. Cardinals like to nest in dense thickets. Make sure you provide fresh water for them and grow native plants. Of course, you want to avoid insecticides, since many birds, including cardinals, depend on insects as their main source of food, protein, and fats.
By welcoming cardinals into your yard, you're adding a bit of protection against a nasty virus. Now sit back and enjoy the view!
I'd love to see your own photos of cardinals in your yards. Feel free to add them to the Green Grandma FB page!
Have a safe and happy May!