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The temperature was well below freezing. There was enough snow on the ground that my waterproof hiking boots were on the verge of failing. I was bundled up in layers and struggling to keep myself warm. The trees were barren and even the lake was solid ice.
Then I saw these little Cardinals hopping around gleefully in their birthday suits.
They were so small and fragile. I could squish them with my hands without any effort. Yet they were the ones braving the weather as if it was just another sunny spring morning while I was quivering despite the layers upon layers of fibers.
It makes me marvel at nature's engineering prowess. How can something so delicate be so resilient? Do they have the best down jackets? It is a spiritual moment when you notice just how incredibly complex these creatures are. Human intelligence has led to many fantastic creations but nothing comes even close to these flittering packages of pure scientific genius. Such thoughts always reinforce my belief in a higher power.
This photograph made it to the top 25 in the birds category of the 2021 Nature photographer of the year competition. It is available in a limited edition of 50.