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Photographer's Note

THE FIRST SIGNS OF SPRING

I am an artist-scientist, but my knowledge of science outside physics is quite limited — very little ornithology, even less botany. Nonetheless, when it comes to appreciating beauty in nature it does not take too much incentive for me to grab a camera. So it was last Sunday, when I was sitting with my laptop on my lap, enjoying new photos arriving at TrekEarth. Then suddenly, when I looked out from my study window, alas! A site to behold — a gorgeous cardinal, perched on a branch of a peeling birch tree just outside the window — nature showing off its best!

The little I knew about ornithology included the fact that in the world of birds, it is the male of the species that displays the most colorful plumage, exemplified most dramatically in the male peacock, but also seen here in the cardinal. According to the information I could muster, Cardinals, or Cardinalidae, are members of “passerine birds” — perching songbird — living in North and South America, its name inspired by the vestments worn by Catholic cardinals. Other defining traits of the species include their mating in early spring, their nesting in loosely woven tall bushes, and their diets comprised of seeds and small berries. Herein lies a remarkable connection: it is the berry of the holly bush, rich in beta carotene and lycopenes, that is responsible for the brilliant coloring of the male. For some odd reason, the female does not gorge on this berry, and accordingly does not display the vivid coloration.

I was happy that the bird did not fly away during the 15-20 seconds it took me to retrieve my camera, mount a 70-210 lens, and fire a few shots between the slats of the Venetian blinds. The focus is a bit soft, I was shooting through a double-insulated glass, I believe, filled with Argon gas.

Finally, in posting this shot, I realize I am digressing diametrically from my most recent fare of landscapes and ruins. But then perhaps in photography, just as in so much else, unity lies in diversity.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6780 W: 471 N: 12171] (41261)
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