Who Knew?

As a flash of red catches my attention, I leap from the couch and move swiftly but sneakily, I hope, to the window overlooking our small backyard.  Sneakily, because the cardinals responsible for the flash of red notice any sudden movement on my side of the glass.  At least that’s my guess as to why they bolt so frustratingly, hightailing it back into the bush just as I get up to the window, camera in hand.

It’s one of the dreary days so common in Ottawa in October, and tending late in the afternoon to boot, so the light is crappy.  A professional photographer will tell you there’s no such thing as bad light.  I am not a professional. 

On this day, with my camera lens zoomed to its greatest extent and opened as wide as it can go, the ISO is through the roof.  No, I don’t really know what that means, either, but I see the resulting low image quality, made even more noticeable with the extreme cropping necessary for these shots, even after the zoom.  But who knew the fence was built of cardinal-sized diamonds?

Two shots of male nothern cardinal in fence, with head cocked to left and the to right

Farther away, and just back into the trees, a male and female cardinal reach up, deliberately select a nice dry leaf, and pull it off.

3-photo collage of male and femal northern cardinals eating unidentifiable bits in a tree.

I’ve seen them munching flame-bush berries just outside our window, but leaves?  They’re eating dry leaves?  As I squint at them, between shots, it certainly appears so.  Who knew?

Female northern cardinal pulling winged maple seed off tree

But even a low-quality image can come to the rescue.  Not the leaves that my squinting eyes see, but seed pods from (I think) the ubiquitous Manitoba maples.  Ah.

And just in case you’re concerned about my frustration levels, I assure you that not all the days are dreary, nor all the birds so far from the windows.  Thanks to the Big Guy for the lovely on-the-fence shots.

2-photo collage of male northern cardinals

3-photo collage of female northern cardinal on a fence


    1. Isabel Gibson

      Judith – Thanks! They’ve been having a great time, flitting in and out and through the yard, chasing each other. Well, strictly speaking, I don’t know if they’re having fun, but I am.

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