Okay, the focus is a little soft, but I was maxed out on the zoom and the scene was backlit and ... whine, whine, excuse, excuse.
I still like this subtropical cardinal scene, especially when it's not uncommon to see a "cardinal in the snow" shot from folks far north of the St. Marys River. Redbirds seem to be very adaptable to different climates. I guess being equipped as a generalized seed crusher, rather than being overly specialized, is a factor. That bill exerts quite a crushing force as I can attest to after rescuing a young cardinal male from a chicken pen. I chased him around inside the pen, until finally I grasped him in one hand. That's when he latched on to the meat between my thumb and index finger and proceeded to "crush" it.
It was a pretty impressive, painful pinch. I would compare it to the crushing bite of a striped burrfish, which coincidently bit the same section of my hand when I grabbed it to show the kids while snorkeling. Burrfish definitely wins, but the cardinal was respectable.
That is not a tree trunk I'm standing on, but a branch off a slowly dying oak in the back woods. Sometime in the last month, this huge branch separated from the oak below. It's pretty clear from the bottom picture why it fell, and you have to wonder how it stayed aloft as long as it did.
I've noticed a few things about my oaks.
The live oaks never die ... okay, that makes sense, actually.
The water oaks always look like they are dying, but struggle on.
The laurel oaks make a grand show of dying, like an overly dramatic actor dragging out his death scene in a bad movie. Honestly, they can die for decades.
The turkey oaks will be fine one day, then suddenly clasp their heartwood, and die. I'm not kidding, it's happened to some wonderful turkey oaks here. One even put out his spring growth and then ... kaput.