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Northern Cardinals my photos, my words

As I was sorting through many hundreds of photos of Northern Cardinals to select the onces to use in my featured gallery this month I noticed one common theme reoccurring in the images I selected.

Almost all of them were taken in winter. Many have snow in the background. Some even had snowflakes on the bird's feathers or floating around the bird.

A female Northern Cardinal ruffles its feathers, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Cardinals are year-round residents of Central Ohio, hanging around for the hot summers and for the cold, snowy winters when other birds head for warmer climates. The cardinals provide interesting spots of colors among the numerous brown or gray birds found in the area in winter.

I see cardinals in the summer but have very few photos of them with green leaves. That’s because cardinals are extremely shy birds, flying off quickly if they detect motion. There’s little to keep them in one spot when I approach in the summer.

A male Northern Cardinal perches on a log, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

The vast majority of my photos of cardinals are taken during the winter months in Blendon Woods Metro Park. The park has a viewing shed that provides bird watchers with a chance to watch a variety of waterfowl on a nearby pond during winter months (the pond has an aeration system so it doesn’t freeze solid in the winter).

The park also has a well-stocked bird feeder to the side of the shed. That’s why I go.

A female Northern Cardinal perches on a branch on a spring morning in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

I use the shed as a photographer’s blind, keeping me out the birds’ sight while protecting me from wind and snow (the shed isn’t heated, so I have to deal with the cold). Cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, a variety of sparrows, woodpeckers, Blue Jays and a number of other species queue up on surrounding limbs, bushes or fallen logs while they wait for a spot at the feeder. That’s when I get my shots.

Winter in Ohio tends to be extremely gray — dreary, overcast skies result in dreary, dim lighting and poor photos — so I often set up several flash units on wireless remotes when I’m shooting at Blendon Woods. I aim the flashes at areas where I anticipate seeing birds and set the exposure so the flash supplements the available light instead of serving as the primary light source.

A male Northern Cardinal perches on a winter morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

The male Northern Cardinal is a familiar red. But female Northern Cardinals can be difficult to see, especially in most fall or winter environments. Their subtle color (yellow-brown with touches of red on the crest, back and tail) blends in with their surroundings in brown fields or autumn trees.

A male Northern Cardinal perches on a snowy morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal ruffles its feathers, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches on a log, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches on a branch on a spring morning in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches on a winter morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches on a snowy morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal contrasts with a blue sky, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches on a branch on a snowy morning in Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal looks to the side, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Female Northern Cardinal on a snowy day, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio
Snow rests on a male Northern Cardinal's feathers, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal blends with the background, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches on a snowy morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches in a snowy forest in Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches against a snowy background, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches against a snowy background, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal clings to an angled perch, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
The warm colors of a female Northern Cardinal contrasts with cold surroundings, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
The warm red of a male Northern Cardinal contrasts with the snowy background, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal rests on a snowy morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal rests on a branch, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches on a snowy morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal makes eye contact, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches between limbs, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches in the forest in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches on a cold morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal perches under a blue sky, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal rests on a winter morning, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio
A male Northern Cardinal stays alert, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal looks around, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A male Northern Cardinal glances down, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal looks back, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Falling snow surrounds a male Northern Cardinal, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal rests on a limb, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Male Northern Cardinal perched in bush, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A female Northern Cardinal perches against a snowy background, Blendon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
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Created By
Pat Hemlepp
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