Nature Photography – Michigan Red Cardinal

One Early Morning in a Secluded Michigan Wetland – 100 Shades of Red

Cardinalis Cardinalis


Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal


I saw one hundred shades of red sitting on a frosted frozen branch.  This Cardinal was red on red, in red on black. No, no, it was red, on black, on red, with a red beak!  This bird had a red cap at the top of it’s crown, red ear patch, red moustachial stripes, red eye ring, red nape at the nape of it’s neck. The ruby red color was even covering the entire mantle and tertials from the top of it’s head to the primary tip projection of it’s tail. Red under tail coverts, red greater coverts on the edge of the wings, median coverts where a charcoal slate colored shade of red, the greater primary coverts, the marginal, lesser, median, and greater coverts all different shades of red. Did I mention the bird had a red chest and even an all red beak?

The Northern Cardinal is a summer and winter bright ruby red winged creature.  This Cardinal is another prolific photographed bird.  It is most recognized because of it’s bright vivid red plumage.


Michigan Red Cardinal

Michigan Red Cardinal


One Cold and chilly morning I spotted a Red Cardinal sitting motionless in a thicket of branches.  The morning air was chilled and crisp. Normally, this bird is photographed on branches covered in a layer of pure white snow.  However, on this occasion, the thicket of branches were covered in a thin layer of ice. This ice gave the branches an almost pinkish hew, a unique contrast with the Cardinal posing as the center piece.  The branches looked as though they had been sprayed with a coating of velvet frost sprinkled the  full length of the branches which gave the effect of diamonds studs along the many smaller stems. This all red Northern Cardinal bird looks like a living Jewel.


Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal Female


The sun had not yet disturbed this frosty frozen scenery as the birds location was protected; set just below a twenty foot ravine.  But this was quickly about to change as the sun slowly rose, it encroached on the Northern Cardinal’s location, the sun rays also quickly melted the ice crystals off the nearby branches on contact. I had to quickly setup and try to get this shot.



Cardinal in Flight


The above shot of a ruby red Cardinal may not be the best photo, but I did manage to capture the scenery just before it all dissipated in minutes.

Lessons Learned From Birds of Nature

The Northern Red Cardinal is a very alert and observant bird.  It scouts out a potential feeding location with distant threat surveyance strategy. It is elusive and very skittish. This observant Cardinal will also match previous scenery against current and can quickly distinguish that something has changed since it’s last visit.  This is a very observant and intelligent bird. See additional Michigan Red Cardinal Photos Here… Red Cardinal Michigan Photo.  View other Michigan Birds Here… Michigan Birds.


About the Northern Red Cardinal

Nature Photography – Michigan Bird Identification
Photo Taken: Lake Erie MetroPark

Group: Groesbeaks and Buntings
Name: Northern Cardinal
Cardinal cardinalis

The Michigan Northern Cardinal is a 8-9 inch bird with, black face mask and all red plumage, and a bad hair day crown.

Adult: Color is bright red, female is beige with orange beak.

Flight Characteristics:
Jittery quick wing beats, several flaps then pause and a slip dip when in flight.  The Red Cardinal is a fast flier.

Habitat: The Michigan Red Cardinal prefers brushy dense thickets located in grasslands, lakes and wetlands.

Nesting: Cardinal will construct an open cupped mounded nest made of branches and twigs of various sizes. Nests are located fairly close to the ground.

Incubates 3-4 bluish eggs for appx 12-14 days.

Mating Habits: The Northern Cardinals mates for extended periods.

Feeding: Seeds, insects, berries, grain.

Call: Series of fluctuating song like low-high whistles. Song Bird.


Bird Conservation in Michigan

Michigan Bird Conservation Initiative

Michigan Department of Natural Resources 

Check the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for Michigan Wetland Management, Learn More… DNR Michigan

nature photography - michigan

Nature Photography by Ike Austin – Michigan
Photography that is Therapy for the Soul 

Michigan Birds


National Geographic

2011 Editors Choice Winning Photo


Birds Photography Night Heron

National Geographic 2011
View Entry on NG website… NG Contest Winners


Birding Associations and Organizations

This Weeks Honorable Mention:

American Birding Association (ABA)
Purpose: The ABA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides leadership to birders by increasing their knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of birding. Mission Statement and Code of Ethics… Read More Here… ABA Code Of Ethics

Membership Required: Y, $45/yr.
Inforemative Website Information: Y
Year Long Events: Y
Active Birder Blog(s): Y
Informative Rating: 8

Nature Photography – by Ike Austin

Nature Photography that is Therapy for the Soul

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