Northern Cardinals In The Baboquivari Foothills
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I saw numerous Northern Cardinals during our stay at the Elkhorn Ranch. These finch-like birds have adapted very successfully to conditions in southern Arizona. One rarely, if ever, finds this species in our desert. Cardinals are a common sight in our riparian areas, and especially near the margins of streams. They have a fondness for brushy vegetation, precisely the habitat that prevails in parts of the Elkhorn Ranch.
They are extraordinarily beautiful birds. They are distributed over much of the United States. However, the cardinals living in the southwest are generally more intensely colored than are their relatives in the east and northeast. I know of no explanation for this regional color, but I’m not complaining. These birds shine like red jewels against their background.
Photographing them is a challenge. They are extremely wary of people and usually fly before one can maneuver into position for a good image. I approached dozens of these birds with only a few successes. The images that I got were certainly worth the effort.
Female cardinals are less brightly colored than are the males but they are no slouches in the beauty department.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting. The first image shot at ISO 400, the second and third images shot at ISO 640. The first image, f8 @ 1/1600, the second, f9 @ 1/400, the third, f8 @ 1/1000.