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Posts Tagged ‘Northern cardinal’

A Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted on Saturday at Huntley Meadows Park seemed to be in an awkward feather phase that gave him an almost clown-like appearance.

I suspect that the cardinal feels as self-conscious as the average human male going through puberty.

Northern Cardinal

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do birds manage to survive the unbearable heat of summer? Monday, on a day when temperatures soared to 100 degrees (38 degrees C), I spotted this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at Huntley Meadows Park. It was sitting in the shade and looked like it had fluffed up its feathers or was drying off after a dip in the pond in an effort to stay cool.

I was the crazy one standing in the sun.

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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Yesterday morning I had a portrait session with a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) who wanted to update his presence on social media. Nowadays, he said, it takes more to attract a mate than merely putting on displays and singing loudly and he wanted to set himself apart from his rivals.

We tried a number of different poses in an effort to give him an artsy, mysterious look that would simultaneously suggest vulnerability and passion. We even tried a full-body portrait, because he knows that some of the lady cardinals are interested in more than just his handsome face.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I don’t know if this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) qualifies as an “angry bird,” but he sure did not seem happy to see me this morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

Maybe he was cold and hungry or got off on the wrong side of the bed this morning. In any case, I couldn’t coax a smile out of him.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been cloudy and rainy almost all of today and I feel a need for some bright colors. Here’s a shot from last December of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) decked out in Christmas red.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you don’t have a bird in the hand, sometimes you just have to make do with a bird in the bush.

Despite their bright color, male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are surprisingly hard to photograph. They like to dive into the deepest part of the bushes and forage there most of the time. Sometimes it sounds like they are taunting me.

This cardinal showed his face in the for a moment and I was able to get a mostly unobstructed shot of this beautiful bird, whose bright red color always reminds me of Christmas.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many colorful birds leave us in the winter or have a more muted plumage, but the Northern Cardinal retains its bright, bold color and remains in our area throughout the entire year. I am always happy to spot a cardinal and the snowy white background really helps to showcase this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland where I take many of my wildlife and nature photos.

On a cold, windy day, the cardinal was busily extracting seeds from what I think are rose hips of the Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris) that grow in the wet areas of the park.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have been told that rose hips are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They don’t seem to be the favorite food of the birds in my local marsh, however,  and there are lots of the rose hips still around in mid-February. Northern Cardinals, though, will sometimes smash them against the railing of the boardwalk in order to get to the seeds inside, leaving behind a trail of discarded outer skins.

This past weekend, I watched a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) patiently extract the seeds from a small pile of rose hips. There were plenty more available, but he seemed content to snack on only a few of them—maybe their taste is too strong or acidic to consume a large quantity of them.

I believe that these rose hips are from Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris), which covered parts of the marsh during the summer and were amazingly fragrant.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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During these gray days of winter, bright colors are hard to find, so I jumped at the chance to photograph this male Northern Cardinal when I spotted him Monday high in a tree at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland where I take many of my nature photos.

For another burst of color, check out today’s posting “Winter Blues…” by fellow photographer and blogger, Walter Sanford, with gorgeous images of Painted Skimmer dragonflies that he photographed last June at the same park.

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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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?

“Fierce” is the word that came to mind when I first saw the image I had shot of this female cardinal with the spiky red Mohawk hairstyle and don’t-mess-with-me glare. Although I took this photo at my local marshland park, the simple wire fence gives it a kind of urban feel that seems appropriate for this subject.

I wonder if she has body piercings or a tattoo—it wouldn’t surprise me if she does.

female Northern Cardinal

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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After a week away from home in a far-off city, it was great for me to get back to nature. Somehow my senses seemed to be heightened yesterday as I took in the sights, sounds, and smells of the little marshland park that has become a second home for me.

Even so, I almost missed this female Northern Cardinal, whose muted tones provided almost perfect camouflage for her in the vine-filled underbrush. A slight amount of movement and the bright orange color of her bill, however, were enough to permit me to see her despite all of the visual obstructions.

I realize that most people don’t get excited about photographing such ordinary subjects, but there was something comfortable and reassuring about returning to the familiar, like putting on a pair of my favorite jeans.

almost_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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