Photo by Denny Green, Tempe Arizona.
Arizona cardinal male perched in a palo verde tree. In Arizona, cardinals are native to the Sonoran Desert (and no, we’re not talking about the ones that only come out wearing helmets and tight pants on Fall Sundays in Glendale). They’re apparently reclusive and avoid humans (intelligent too, obviously); in forty years of desert wandering I only ever spotted a single mating pair. It was in a relatively lush and peaceful desert area alongside Apache Lake on the Salt River, the first reservoir below Roosevelt dam some 40 miles east of metro Phoenix. Stunningly beautiful creatures, as the photo below shows.