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"Redbird" (Northern Cardinal, Adult Male, Cardinalis cardinalis) Nikon D300, 1000mm (600mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/200s, ISO 640

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’ve been trying to photograph the elusive male Northern Cardinal for quite some time. While all the other birds will sit and pose for me (the least they can do after snacking on all the free birdseed, right?), the cardinal simply refuses to play nice-nice. What gives? 

Even on this day, he took flight after a single click of my shutter. Damn. 

But at least this time, he’s in focus! 

In the life of a nature photographer, a small victory is better than no victory at all. 

Until we meet again, mon petit oiseau rouge! 🙂


  1. it’s a start!!

    Are you using a tripod or monopod with that lens???

    • Yes, indeedy! 🙂

      Oh, a HUGE tripod, definitely! I feel like a gunner at a canon with this thing!

  2. Lol.. I remember seeing those on my last visit to the US… Well, they were Cardinals of some sort at least… Well they were red anyways… or did I just hear them !?!?… Anyhoo, at least I can safely say I’ve seen one now, or at least a real nice picture of one… 🙂

    • So you’ve been across the pond, eh? What did you think of us?

      No Cardinals in England? Hmmm, I wonder why?

      Thanks, Bri! 🙂

      • What did I think of you… Lol… Well naturally all Americans are wonderful, especially as they make up nearly all of my blogworld… 😉

  3. You got it!!! Whoohoo!! LOL
    Love it against the creamy green background.

    • And this BETTER NOT be it! I will tame this little guy at some point!! 😉

      Thanks, Michaela! 🙂

  4. Sweet! You got it. This is where I probably shouldn’t tell you that many years ago I managed, with my P&S camera to get right up next to a baby cardinal on a post for a closeup. The mother wasn’t happy with me, but the baby didn’t mind. This image reminded me of that.

    And true, it is all about the small victories to reward the patience and perseverance. Nice red against green here. And he seems to have noticed you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sean!

      Photographing that baby must have been awesome! I had a similar experience about 10 years ago when the cardinals built a nest in my neighbor’s wisteria. The only access we had to it was through a window in her garage – had to stand on a ladder while both cardinal parents divebombed us from the other side! I knew very little back then and so wish I could have that experience now.

      I think he noticed the very huge EYE (the lens of the 600mmm is HUGE) that was looking at him more than me! 🙂

  5. Congratulations – nice portrait of your beautiful and difficult friend. Unfortunately we do not have that beauty here in Denmark…

    • Thank you, Truels! I’m sure you have many lovely birds to make up for it! 🙂

  6. You’re getting warmer, Tracy! Is that his favorite stopping place? Male cardinals (as you painfully know) are frigidity creatures and you are not very mobile with this setup.

    You’ll get your prize, yet!

    • Ha! Thanks, Scott!

      Nah, the cardinals in my yard seem to have no distinct pattern (that I can tell anyways). Their favorite stopping place is any place where I have an obstructed view!

      Some day! 😀

  7. Congrats, Tracy! I think of you each time I hear their distinctive song. Maybe he will finally swing by the magic bird bath one of these days!

  8. Great photo of this beautiful bird. I really like the colourful background which complements the bright red nicely.

  9. Apparently cardinals in your yard mean good luck, I have a couple living in my yard too.

    • Oooooh, really?? That would be nice! I’ve been seeing a bit more of them but damn, they certainly are still be uncooperative!

  10. wowww… Beautiful catch!

    I have a Redbird who comes to my balcony to eat food, just watching him is a pure delight.

    But I hope someday I’ll be able to photograph his beauty.

    • Thank you, Anne! Very sweet of you!

      Aw, I hope you get to photograph your Redbird, too! 🙂

  11. That’s no small victory, Tracy, that’s an awesome victory. Really nice catch.

  12. Handsome, well-composed photograph. With the big lens you probably wanted a full frame image.

    What I’ve been told is: invest in a blind, such as a bag blind, find a good spot where they come frequently, and wait patiently on a chair until you get the right bird, in the right light, at the right angle.

    • Thank you, Tom. Yes, that is exactly what I was aiming for – up close and personal!

      A bag blind. Hmmm. I hope it doesn’t come to that (but good to have something in the back of my mind). I’ve actually started to see more of the cardinals and they seem to be less skittish. I’ve even noticed families coming to feed. So, I still have hope!

      Thanks for the advice! Very much appreciated! 🙂

  13. great photo, especially when it was the only frame you snapped! congrats!(in anticipation of a much more hearty response once you’ve captured the bugger to your satisfaction!)

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