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    Posted July 25, 2014 by
    Rochester, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel snapshots: Best bird-watching

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    Baby Cardinal's First Flight

    Several years ago, a pair of red cardinals made a nest in our dogwood tree, just outside of our house. From our parlor windows, we could see two eggs. Many days later, we could see the heads of two tiny baby cardinals. Like anxious parents, we watched these babies grow, while we waited, hoping to be present for their first flight.

    Our wait was worth the effort. Early on a Saturday morning, we were fortunate to watch the two babies crawl to the edge of their nest. Very slowly, they looked down. Finally, after what seemed like hours (but was really minutes), the two babies, one after the other, attempted their first flight. That flight didn't go very well for either of the cardinals, as they unceremoniously fell straight down into the pachysandra under the tree.

    My wife and I hurried to our front porch, camera in hand, to see what would happen next. For close to an hour, we saw no movement below us. We feared that the first flight was fatal for both of the cardinal babies.

    Then, all of a sudden, we saw a faint rustle in the leaves of the pachysandra. To our delight, one of the babies did take flight, landing temporarily on our cast iron fence before taking off, and out of our lives forever.

    I was able to get one closeup shot of the baby with my telephoto lens. Looking at that image, of a barely-feathered bird, with huge, bulging eyes, I am still amazed that the baby would grow up to be a beautiful cardinal.

    To our knowledge, the second baby never emerged from the plants.

    Every time that we now see a cardinal, we can't help but think - 'Is this the baby that flew out of our front yard?'
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