So here’s the story… My wife wanted to get a picture of a Cardinal (Male Northern Cardinal to be specific) to give to her mother for Christmas this year. Her mother has always liked cardinals and I have given her pictures in the past that she really appreciated, so I thought, “Let’s do it!”.

But how?

The Weekend Project

This was a fun project for me and my daughter (5yrs old). We would build a feeder for the backyard and try to attract a cardinal. I didn’t want a picture with a feeder in it, so we went to home depot and got some pieces to build our own platform feeder. We cut a piece of plywood to about 18″ x 18″, painted it black and added a border to keep the seed in it. While we were there, we picked up some Cardinal seed (which I didn’t know they sold).

Here is what it looked like:

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In order to provide the “Christmas feeling” we “decorated” it with some scrap branches from Home Depot’s garden department, which was selling Christmas trees at the time. (They don’t charge for the scrap branches and had a whole pallet-box full of them from when they trimmed the bottom of the trees).

Now what? I had sold  my longest lens (300mm f/2.8), when my son stopped playing football and I knew I would need something longer. After spending some time looking around, I settled on a used 600mm f/4. I was up in the air between a 500mm and a 600mm, both f/4. I finally decided on the extra reach of the 600, even though it’s about 3 lbs heavier than the 500.

Time to get a Cardinal

There were a couple of weeks between when we built the feeder to when I got the new lens. Occasionally, I would look out to see if any cardinals were around and a couple of times I saw one.

Finally, my lens arrived. I went out the next morning to take pictures. The feeder was attracting some different birds, Sparrows and Tufted Titmice (mouses?).

With the long lens, I could only see part of the feeder through the frame. While I was photographing a bird on the right part of the feeder, it happened… the cardinal that I had seen through the window from the house, landed on the left part of the feeder and I was able to get a few shots off before it flew away. And here they are:

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