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Posts Tagged ‘Northern cardinal’

Do male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) know that they are bright red in color? When I spooked one of them yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, he flew to a nearby field and perched in the midst of a mass of vegetation.

Did he think that he was hidden from me? Obviously he was not—his red coloration makes it almost impossible for him to blend in. I couldn’t help but think of a quotation that is attributed to Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” That’s probably a good question for all of us—as you can probably guess, I am somewhat of a non-conformist.

 

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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All female Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) have traces of red feathers, but this one that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seemed to have bolder markings than most. Before I took her portrait, I could help noticing that she had seed remnants on her bill. I also can be a bit of a messy eater at times, so I am reluctant to allow anyone to photograph me while I am eating.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last month I received a curious question from Cindy Dyer, my good friend and photography mentor—she asked me if I had any good winter images. In addition to being an amazing photographer, Cindy works as a graphic designer. The editor with whom she works on Hearing Life Magazine, the official magazine of the Hearing Loss Association of America, wanted a winter-related full-page original image for the January/February 2020 issue.

She knew that she did not have many snow images, but figured that I would. I gave her some options, and she chose this shot of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I photographed in my neighborhood after a snowstorm last January. The editor loved this image as cardinals hold special significance to her—her late sister loved them—and added the quotation from Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists.

I was curious about the context of the quotation and learned from vangoghletters.org that it was from a letter that Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo from London in January 1874. Here is the paragraph of that letter than contains the quotation, “Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?” As I read the letter in its entirety, I was equally struck by Van Gogh’s commentary about nature and art, “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.”

I am always thrilled to see one of my images in print and I was excited yesterday when I finally received a printed copy of the magazine. One of my goals this year is to have more of my photos printed—I have a few of my favorites hanging on the wall already, but still have room for more of them. If you are interested in seeing the original posting in which this image appeared, click on this link to Cardinal in the snow.

 

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is normally hard for a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to camouflage itself, but it seemed to blend in pretty well with the brilliant red leaves of these sumac plants last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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Images of a bright red cardinal in the brilliant white snow—some might view such shots as a bit cliché, but I view them instead as iconic. I ventured out into my neighborhood earlier this week after the snow had stopped falling and was thrilled to find a small group of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). They spent most of their time buried in the branches, but eventually I was able to capture some unobstructed images of some male cardinals.

Although I like the details of the second shot, the first shot really draws me in by presenting a better depiction of the snowy environment. In some parts of the country this is a typical winter scene, but here in Northern Virginia, this is the biggest snow storm we have had since 2016, so it was pretty unusual to have this kind of photo opportunity.

Northern Cardinal

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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