A restaurant cook discovers and films for hours the rare Yellow Cardinal

By Terri Parker

Click here for updates on this story

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WPBF) — A flash of bright yellow in the trees — it was the recent reappearance of one in a million birds: the Yellow Cardinal.

And the beginning of a love story between a then unemployed restaurant cook and a brightly colored, arrogant, rare and beautiful bird.

How rare?

“One in a million – only 10 to 15 are thought to be alive in the eastern United States,” said Jeremiah Vreeland.

Vreeland first saw the yellow cardinal in his garden in April last year. He wasn’t a bird watcher, he was a restaurant cook. He noticed it but didn’t think about it.

Then his next door neighbor mentioned what an incredible sighting it was and Vreeland began his research.

“This bird literally changed my life,” Vreeland said.

Vreeland learned that a nearby Port St. Lucie woman also documented a yellow cardinal in 2019. She named it Sunny. Given the chances of seeing the rare bird twice in one city and comparing the pictures, they agreed – it was Sunny – to come back. And Vreeland had a new fascination.

“I was new to birdwatching – everything he did was awesome to me,” Vreeland said.

It was just when COVID-19 hit and the restaurant in Vreeland, where he was a cook, closed.

So he settled into a chair on his terrace and dressed in his dressing gown and a beanie, his hair long and unkempt, he started filming – looking for Sunny for six to 10 hours a day. .

Sunny only appeared every few days for a few moments at a time, at first.

So Vreeland, no longer in the stress of a small, heat-filled kitchen, reeling from the recent death of his mother, began to watch all the other birds flock to his oak-shaded yard.

And he felt peace.

“That’s really when I started falling in love with birds,” he said.

So Vreeland, no longer in the stress of a small, heat-filled kitchen, reeling from the recent death of his mother, began to watch all the other birds flock to his oak-shaded yard.

And he felt peace.

“That’s really when I started to fall in love with birds,” he said.

“Later I learned it was just flirtatious breeding behavior,” he said.

But was it really? Vreeland was never sure. And did he really want to know?

And then, after four months of devoted love to birds, Sunny disappeared, for seven long months.

“It was strange. I had grown so attached to him. I didn’t expect to feel that way for a wild bird,” Vreeland said.

Vreeland had given up hope of ever seeing Sunny again when Sunny suddenly flew out into the yard in April, this time only remaining a few blissful weeks of rarer video and companionship.

“It was amazing. I wish I could experience it again, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Vreeland said.

Vreeland said months of watching Sunny instead of TV or playing video games gave him a peace of mind he didn’t think he’d found otherwise.

Now her yard is filled with feeders for different types of birds and a birdbath.

And he will be forever grateful to Cardinal Yellow who taught him to sit quietly and listen to the wind and watch.

He hopes Sunny will come back.

Note: This content is subject to a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you cannot use it on any platform.