Bird’s the word and a photo

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The first thing you need to know is Maumelle’s Lanny Thompson took that photo of the cardinal that is now rocketing around the world.

It has been shared about 147,000 times, and counting, on Facebook as the picture has become something of a viral sensation.

The reason is pretty simple, the photo is spectacular as it catches the underside of a cardinal in mid-flight, with wings outstretched as the bird’s cardinal red is displayed against a clear blue sky, with a white, snowy ground.

Another thing you need to know is the photo wasn’t taken in Maumelle.

“The view from my house in Kentucky was spectacular,” Thompson said in an interview with ArkansasNewsroom.com. “But, it wasn’t spectacular enough for me.”

Thompson said he needed to bring the birds closer to him so they weren’t, “a speck on my pictures.”

The last thing you need to know is that the picture wasn’t taken this year, or last but in January and February of 2015 and that’s when Thompson came up with a plan to get closer to the birds.

“I replaced the second floor glass window in the kitchen with Plexiglass,” Thompson said. “I cut a small hole in it so my IPhone 5 lens would have a clear shot to the outside. Then, I taped it there.”

The next step was bait.

“I placed a basket of sunflower seeds under the window sill and attached a small tree branch to the house, over the food for birds to perch on,” Thompson added. “I bought a little remote button to manually operate the burst mode of my camera and sat and waited for birds to fly in and out of my aerial diner.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have a bird feeder attached to the window of our home and can confirm cardinals really love to eat sunflower seeds, but we digress.

The result for Thompson was that he got lots of pictures, every day.
“I would sift through thousands of images, and, like panning for gold,” he said. “I would find a few rare ‘nuggets.’ That’s it. Cool, huh.”

Thompson said the weather conditions that day in wintry Kentucky helped immensely.

“It really helps to have a beautiful backdrop and bright snow,” he said. “The glare of the snow automatically caused the camera to speed up the shutter speed. That’s really important for a picture like this one.”

He also said the photo has produced some doubters.

“Some, people think they’re faked. Photo-shopped,” Thompson said. “Other people think I used a drone. … Some of them feel bad because they spent too much money on their equipment and can’t do what my cheap iPhone can do. Some say this picture is impossible to produce. 

“Well, it happened. I am just as amazed.”

Some of Thompson’s other photos have enjoyed a bit of success on the Internet before, but that was measured in what he called, “thousands.”

“I’m really happy that so many people across the world are enjoying this wonderful image,” Thompson said. “I only share pictures that I love. I try to respect people’s time and senses by not subjecting them to what I feel are lousy or ordinary images.”

He also added, “I take a lot of bad pictures. I just don’t let anybody see them.”

See more of Thompson’s work

  • Lanny Thompson published a book about his encounter with a wild Trumpeter Swan and will be available to order on Amazon in a “couple of weeks.”

  • He also has a website and you can also follow him on Instagram, @lannythompson942/