Even though I use my camera on mute when trying to catch birds in the lens, my feathered friends many times turn their heads in my direction when the camera silently clicks. I cannot hear what they apparently do hear, for their expressions seem to confirm it.
Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg
Cardinals have been gloriously prevalent in our backyard this Spring!
Here is the female partner of our fabulous pair gathering nesting twigs for her work along the Maumee River bank. She takes on most of the nest-building duties. She is more careful to stay hidden, using her camouflaging feathers.
Although the beautifully red male does contribute a few items to the nest now and then and visit the female to check her progress and offer encouragement, his main objective is to guard the operations. And he makes no bones about his presence, standing tall and alert and visible. From his heights, he continuously watches over his female partner and whistles and signals to her whatever messages are necessary.
While bright red male Cardinals seem purposefully to expose themselves on open branches, possibly to make attracting females easier, the girls stay more hidden in brush and tree branches. In many incidences, that makes them harder to photograph.
In fact, since earlier in the Spring this season, I’ve gotten one good chance at capturing a female in the only place I’m able to photograph — the backyard of our apartment building.
Female Cardinals are a good example of how bright coloration favors the male in the bird world, probably for the reason mentioned above: being the mating aggressor, the male needs to be seen more readily for purposes of necessary attraction.
In the second photo, this same female has gone down closer to the riverbank (note the rocks) in search of nesting materials. She holds a tiny branch in her beak.