Masked cardinal (Paroaria nigrogenis)
Caroni Marsh, Trinidad
June 20, 2012
Nancy took this image while on a trip led by Brian Rapoza for the Tropical Audubon Society to Trinidad and Tobago.
This bird is in the tanager family and NOT closely related to 'proper' cardinals (in the Cardinalidae family). Until just a little before Nancy took this picture, they were thought to be the same species as the Red-capped Cardinal, but is now its own species. They are found in Trinidad, far northeastern Columbia, and northern Venezuela in lowland tropical swamps, mangroves, savannas, and open areas near water, often in groups. Both sexes look similar.
Masked Cardinals eat insects, rice, and fruit. They breed from June through September. They lay two to three eggs in a shallow cupped nest (about four inches across and less than 3" high) built of thin twigs and ferns in a tree.
Photographic details: Canon EOS 7D camera w/ EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens set at 210mm. Off-camera flash was used. Camera was on f/8 for 1/500 second at ISO 1600. Exposure was decreased three stops in post-processing.
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