Northern Cardinal

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Yesterday I remarked that the Elkhorn Ranch in Arizona is a paradise for songbirds.  That may be an understatement.  I’ve never seen such a profusion of birds — at least not in Arizona — as I did on the ranch.

Northern Cardinals featured prominently among the species that I observed and photographed.

These brilliant birds are everywhere among the cabins and other structures on the ranch’s grounds.  At times I observed small flocks of a half dozen or so cardinals.

Northern Cardinals have a large range within the continental United States, although most of that range is east of the Mississippi River.  However, their range extends into the southwest, from Texas through Arizona, along the Mexican border.  It also extends well down into Mexico.

Interestingly, the further west one travels along these birds’ range, the brighter their color.  The cardinals on the Elkhorn Ranch glowed like rubies in the January sun.

I used to encounter cardinals when we lived in the East, but I’ve never seen birds as brilliantly colored as are the Elkhorn’s birds.

Females are considerably less bright than are the males, but they’re highly attractive nonetheless.

Cardinals prefer brushy country.  The desert around Tucson harbors many of these birds even if they’re not present in the concentration that I observed at the Elkhorn Ranch.

They are particularly active in early morning and late afternoon and their brilliant plumage makes them easy to spot and to observe.  I wonder at times how these birds, so brightly colored as they are, are able to survive the depredations of Cooper’s Hawks and other local predators, but somehow, they’ve managed to prosper in spite of their high visibility.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens.  Images #s 2 and 6 made with the addition of a 1.4x telextender.  All images shot at aperture priority setting.  Images #s 1, 3, and 5 shot at ISO 1250, all others at ISO 640.  Image # 1, f5.6 @ 1/800; image # 2, f8 @ 1/1600; image # 3, f5.6 @ 1/1000; image # 4, f5.6 @ 1/2000;  image # 5, f5.6 @ 1/500; image #6, f8 @ 1/800; image # 7, f5.6 @ 1/2500.

One Reply to “Northern Cardinal”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says:

    All things bright and beautiful…..!

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