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Posts Tagged ‘cardinal’

Female Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) do not stand out as much as their bright red male counterparts, but their beauty is at a minimum comparable, albeit in a more dignified and understated way. The male cardinal is like a loud, raucous call, while the female is more like a soft, seductive whisper.

female Northern Cardinal

female Northern Cardinal

female Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love male Northern Cardinals in the winter. They add such a wonderful pop of bright color on a cloudy day, like yesterday when I took this shot, or on a snowy day like today (when I hope to see one in my neighborhood).

I spotted this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my current favorite spot for walking about with my camera. We have already had about 6 inches (10 cm) of snow and more is falling, so I probably will not make it out of the neighborhood today. The streets are not yet clear and people in this area tend to drive even more crazily than normal when there is snow.

I took a number of shots of the cardinal while he was perched in a distant tree. Although he remained relatively stationary, he kept changing his tail position, so I decided to include shots with different “poses.”

Northern cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sunshine and bright colors have been in short supply during the month of November. We have already broken the all-time record for rainfall in November in our area and will break the record for rainfall in a year if we have one more inch (25mm) of rain by 31 December.

I was therefore absolutely thrilled when I spotted this bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) high in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week. Unlike so many other birds that try to blend in with their surroundings, the cardinal seems bold and self-assured—it is not at all hard to spot them, though they often bury themselves in the middle of bushes, so getting an unobstructed shot can be quite a challenge.

Comparatively speaking, this cardinal was cooperative and posed for a short while before finally taking off. His head was in constant motion, but eventually I was able to capture an image with the head in a decent position. Even with human subjects, I find it tough to shoot a portrait in which the head and eyes are in a natural and pleasing pose.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early yesterday morning there was a coating of ice on much of the water at Huntley Meadows Park. Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) were taking advantage of this new surface to forage for seeds in the lower parts of the vegetation growing out of the frozen water.

The bright red one is immediately identifiable as a male. The other one looks like it could be a female or an adolescent male. As is often the case with birds, male cardinals start off looking like females before they acquire their adult plumage. I’m leaning towards it being a female because of the color of the bill—with younger cardinals, the bill is often dusky rather than bright orange.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was buried in the bushes on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an unobstructed shot. I attempted to will the cardinal to move to a new spot and amazingly it flew to a perch on the upper railing of the observation deck and posed for me.

Maybe telepathy works!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that springtime leaves and blossoms are reappearing, birds in the trees are getting harder for me to spot. Earlier this week I was happy to find this semi-hidden female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at Huntley Meadows Park.

One of my friends asserts that female cardinals are more beautiful than their more boldly-colored male counterparts—it’s hard to disagree with him.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I posted this image once already, but its bright Christmas colors cry out to be used again this morning.

Merry Christmas to friends and family and best wishes for a blessed New Year.

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement this past year as I have continued my journey through photography.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you prefer the bold color of the iconic male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to the more subtle coloration of the female cardinal or are you on the fence?

Yes, I am beginning today’s posting with the same question that I used in yesterday’s posting that featured a fierce-looking female cardinal, but today am featuring a male cardinal. Not far from where yesterday’s female was perched on the fence wire, her male partner was calmly sitting on a green fencepost, seemingly surveying his surroundings.

Some of yesterday’s responses suggested that many viewers prefer the bright red color of the male cardinal, a visible and welcome sight at this time of the year, when the landscape seems to be dominated by shades of gray.

The combination of the red cardinal and the green fencepost give this image a definite feeling of Christmas. Somehow I feel like it would be good to emulate this cardinal during this pre-holiday season and stop all our frantic activity for a moment, take a deep breath, and look and listen, remembering the true meaning of Christmas.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the early morning mist yesterday at my local marshland park, the bright red color of this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was even more distinctive than usual, shining like a beacon in the limited light.

The white-colored sky and the shadowy shapes of the trees in the distance provide a simple backdrop for this first image that gives it a lot of atmosphere. The wet, lichen-encrusted branch helps to tie the cardinal back to nature and keep this from looking too much like a studio shot, though it does look like the cardinal was posing for me.

When the cardinal moved to a different perch, the backdrop changed and the white sky was replaced by the dried-out vegetation of a field of cattails. Fortunately, the vegetation was far enough away from the subject that it softened up with the aperture wide open. In the second image, the cardinal seems to have become a little irritated with me and is scowling a bit. In both shots, the cardinal looks to have fluffed up its feathers, an indication that it was cold outside when I took these shots.

Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like the dried-up leaves on this branch, winter is tenaciously hanging on, refusing to give way to spring. March is almost over, yet I look out the window and see that the ground is still covered with snow.

Soon the monochromatic tones of winter will be replaced by the pastel colors of spring. Starved for bright colors, my senses rejoice when I am greeted by bright colors, like those of this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinal cardinalis) that I observed this past weekend.

cardinal_march_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was walking through the snow in a wooded area behind some of the townhouses in my neighborhood, a flash or bright red caught my eye and I knew immediately that it was a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), one of my favorite birds.

I stalked him as he moved from tree to tree until he eventually landed on this feeder that was hanging from the second-story deck of one of my neighbors. I really like the industrial look of the feeder and think it adds a nice contrast to softer, less distinct feathers of the cardinal.

cardinal_feeder2_blogcardinal_feeder1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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If berries/fruits are still around on a bush in February, I have to believe that they are not a bird’s favorite food. If you are hungry, enough, I guess you make do with what is there, as this female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was doing yesterday when I took this photo.

I am not certain, but I think that the red berries may be rose hips and the cardinal was trying to get to the seeds in the center, as the evidence on her bill suggests.  Although I have heard that rose hips are a great source of Vitamin C, I doubt that they provide much nourishment to the birds.

I really like the way that this female cardinal almost disappears into the background in this image—the colors of her body and her bill are almost a perfect match for her surroundings.

cardinal_feb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are one of my favorite birds, in part because they stay with us throughout the winter. The bright red color of the male cardinal never fails to lift my spirits, even on a dreary, rainy day in mid-December, when I took this photo. The feathers on the bird’s body seem to be more subdued than usual, but the spiky red feathers on the cardinal’s head give it plenty of color as well as attitude.

We are covered in snow, thanks to yesterday’s daylong snowstorm, and I would love to get some shots of a cardinal in the snow. The bitterly cold temperatures (it’s 9 degrees F (minus 13 C) and windy right now), gusty winds, and treacherous road conditions, however, may limit my photo opportunities for the next few days.

cardinal_rainy_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Winter days are often so drab and gray that any splashes of color are especially welcome during this time of year.

I am always happy to encounter the cheerful red color of male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), which brighten any landscape in which they find themselves. During our recent cold snap, I took this shot of a cardinal foraging in a cattail field covered in snow and ice. I think that he was busy extracting the center portions of the rose hips. (I often see the abandoned shells of rose hips scattered about, so I figure the cardinals don’t eat the entire fruit.)

cardinal_snow_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I looked up at her from below and then she cocked her head and looked down at me. Our eyes met and we shared a brief, magical moment together. Then it was over, my all-too-short encounter with a beautiful female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

cardinal_looking_down_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I have been seeing a lot of cardinals recently, most of them seem very skittish and fly off as I approach. This Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) flew away a short distance and observed me from a tree where he was almost surrounded by the foliage.

With that bright red coloration, though, it’s a little hard to conceal yourself entirely.

cardinal_foliage_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love to photograph cardinals throughout the year, but I was really excited when I saw this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) land on a tree with colorful fall foliage in the background. There were a lot of branches, but I somehow managed to get a facial shot with an interesting expression.

The cardinal seemed to be staring at me, silently criticizing my behavior. It reminded me of the expression that parents sometimes adopt when they want to publicly communicate their displeasure to their offspring without uttering a single word.

cardinal_autumn_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The early morning light from the side illuminated the bright fall leaves and the equally bright red male Northern Cardinal at my local marsh this past weekend.

cardinal_fall_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I really like the pose of this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinal cardinalis) as he prepares to smash a single rose hip against the boardwalk, I love the geometric shapes in the photo just as much.

There is a neat symmetry in the lighter-colored triangle at the top and the dark one in the bottom and they are nicely separated by a series of medium-toned parallelograms. All of the geometric shapes are subdued in color, which helps to provide a nice backdrop for the brightly-colored cardinal and the equally bright rose hip.

Lots of colorful birds are starting to show up now, but I feel special about the cardinals—they were with me throughout the winter, brightening up many a grey winter day.

cardinal_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The setting and the perspective were not completely natural, but somehow I ended up with an image of a female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I really like.

I ran across this cardinal almost two weeks ago when I was just starting my exploration of the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, Georgia. She was perched almost directly overhead on a wire and seemed to be warming herself in the rays of the morning sun. It was the start of a beautiful sunny day and already the skies were blue.

Georgia was already well into spring and you can see some of beautiful colors of the flowering trees in the blurred background. I managed to get the facial area of the cardinal in pretty sharp focus, which contrasts nicely with the background.

It won’t be long before we have flowering trees in Northern Virginia, where I live, but at least we have daffodils in bloom to remind us that spring is finally here.

cardinal_wire_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Can cardinals smile?

This past weekend, I was observing a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in the underbrush. He was busily pecking away, probably searching  for something to eat.

All of the sudden he stopped what he was doing. Cocking his head to the side a little, he turned in my direction and smiled, or at least it seemed that way to me. The glint in his eye enhanced the effect, as though he was amused by my antics.

Smiling cardinals? I choose to believe in them.

cardinal_smile_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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On a cool and windy day, this bright scarlet male Northern Cardinal looks like he chose to wrap himself in an old-fashioned cloak for protection from the elements.

I really was struck today by the sharp distinction between the coloration of the head and the rest of the body of this cardinal.

Do cardinals change colors in the spring?

cardinal_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The sky was a spectacular shade of blue on Monday, providing a beautiful backdrop to this shot of a female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

I’ve posted quite a number of photos of cardinals, primarily of male cardinals, but one of my fellow bloggers commented that you can never have too many photos of these beautiful birds.

I agree.

cardinal1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have seen some rotund cardinals this winter, but this male Northern Cardinal has to be the roundest one yet. He looks a bit to me like an overinflated balloon figure. I saw him fly away, so I know he is airworthy, but I am pretty sure that his current shape produces more aerodynamic drag than usual.

On the other hand, maybe he is merely big-boned.

rounded_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Simple in composition and simple in color palette, I find something really appealing about this photo of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

The backdrop is made up of the gray composite elements of the boardwalk that wends its way through the marshland area of Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA. The gray “wood,” with its horizontal and diagonal lines helps to give a little structure to the image.

The cardinal cooperated by cocking his head in an interesting way and giving me a sidewards glance. I believe that the red berry-like fruits are rose hips. The cardinals seem to enjoy eating the inside part of the fruit, but seem to discard most of its flesh. Several areas of the board walk are littered with these red remains.

cardinal_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Deep inside a bush with red berries, a male Northern Cardinal was almost camouflaged, most of his body a dusty red that blended in with his surroundings. His head, though, was a bright red, a defiant red that refused to be hidden. For me, it’s like the true meaning of Christmas, that is often camouflaged with bright lights and tinsel. My simple prayer today is one that we sang at a Christmas Eve service last night, Dona nobis pacem (Grant us peace). Peace to all this Christmas day and in the coming new year.Hidden cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are featured in photographs much more frequently than their female counterparts. In fact, last week a male cardinal was the star of my blog entry entitled Cardinal Directions. The male cardinal is so bright and conspicuous that he is hard to miss, like a song played with the volume cranked up.

Sometimes, though, my eyes prefer a more delicate, refined beauty and at those moments I find the look of the lady cardinal more to my tastes. There is still some bright red coloration, but it serves as a tasteful accent against the warm brown tones of the rest of the body.

I usually have trouble getting clear shots of female cardinals, who seem to prefer the inside parts of bushes. In this case, I managed to get a mostly unobstructed view and the green of the background blurred out pretty well.

The position of her body is interesting too. It looks like she was facing forward and turned her head to look at me. Perhaps, though, I caught her in the midst of her morning exercise routine—the pose looks like the trunk twists that are done in aerobics classes. Cardinals (like most of us) are not immune to putting on some extra weight during the holiday season, it seems, and she may be trying to stay toned and fit.

Lady Cardinal

Lady Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The bright red plumage of the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) reminded me today that Christmas is almost here. I guess it is such an obvious association that National Geographic featured the cardinal on the cover of its “Holiday” catalog. Cliché or not, I can’t help but smile whenever my eyes catch sight of a cardinal and somehow my spirits are lifted, particularly when the weather is gray and gloomy as it was early this morning.

Here are a couple of shots of the same cardinal that may appear to be identical. However, if you look closer, you will notice that the cardinal has his head turned in a slightly different direction. In the first one, the cardinal was looking right at me. There seems to be something more personal about our interaction when our eyes meet. He looks a little like he is growing weary of posing for me, but is patiently waiting for me to be finished.

cardinal2_blog

In the second photo (which was actually shot before the first one), the cardinal is looking off into the distance, alone with his thoughts and not yet aware  of the intruder with the camera. In some ways this photo seems to capture him in a more natural, unposed position.

cardinal_blog

At certain moments I like the second image more than the first, but most of the time I prefer to see eye-to-eye with a subject.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s a cloudy gray day. It started out with rain and the weather has improved only marginally. I feel a need for some bright colors, so I am sharing a shot I took this past weekend of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in a bush with bright red berries. Unlike most photos that I have taken of a cardinal, his eye is visible—normally it blends in with the black mask of his face.

The bright red color seems festive to me and reminds me that Christmas is almost here.

cardinal_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s difficult enough for a bright red cardinal to hide when there are lots of leaves on a tree, but when the leaves are gone, it’s impossible.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some people claim that the camera adds ten pounds, and that seems to be the case with this female Northern Cardinal. Maybe it’s just the angle or she had fluffed up her feathers for better insulation, but it sure looks to me like she has been fattening herself up for the winter. In fact, you probably noticed that I caught her in mid-bite. I’m not sure what she is eating, but there are lots of colorful berries in the background from which to choose.

Some people claim that they eat like a bird—I hope they don’t mean they eat like this particular bird.

Cardinal in mid-bite

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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