In June 2018, I had the opportunity to photograph a male Northern Cardinal at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. As a wildlife photographer, I usually avoid photographing songbirds at this refuge due to the dense vegetation, which can make it difficult to capture a clear shot without clutter.
To get this shot, I was parked on the side of the tour road at Miner’s Cove when the male Northern Cardinal flew next to my vehicle. I quickly grabbed my Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera, which was resting on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup. Using a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens, I shot in aperture priority mode (AV) with a fast shutter speed of 1/200 of a second at f/5.6 and an ISO setting of 1250. I had the white balance set on auto and used single-point continuous autofocus with evaluative metering.
Male Northern Cardinals are a common sight in many parts of North America, and are easily recognized by their bright red plumage and black face mask.
Here are some interesting facts about male Northern Cardinals:
- They are territorial birds, and will fiercely defend their territory from other males during breeding season.
- Male Northern Cardinals have a wide range of vocalizations, including songs and calls, which they use to communicate with other birds.
- They are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods, including seeds, fruits, insects, and small vertebrates.
- Their bright red coloration is thought to play a role in attracting mates and establishing dominance within their social hierarchy.
- Male Northern Cardinals are monogamous and will often mate with the same female for several breeding seasons.