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I used to think of Northern Cardinals as primarily an eastern species. They are indigenous to most of the eastern half of the United States, but their year-round range extends into the Southwest. Indeed, cardinals have adapted nicely to our desert and are a relatively common sight.
Cardinals are best known for the males’ brilliant scarlet plumage. The females are very pretty in their own right, showing up in subtle tones of red, orange, and gray-brown. I captured this image of a female recently. Lighting for this image was a bit difficult — the cardinal was mostly side-lit. But the image turned out really well in my opinion. I like the way that sunligh illuminates her crest and outlines her tail feathers.
Image made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 2500, f5.6 @ 1/1250, +2/3 stop exposure compensation.
I’ve seen a lot of cardinals at my bird feeder this spring!