Baby, it's cold outside, but a snowcapped cardinal featured in a frosty photo taken by John D'Agostino of Homer Glen doesn't seem fazed by the frigid weather.
A snapshot of the bird surveying its surroundings at Isle a la Cache preserve in Romeoville won the December portion of the Forest Preserve District's Preserve the Moment photo contest.
D'Agostino, a 911 dispatcher, said Isle a la Cache is a "little wildlife hot spot" in Will County.
"I was off Christmas Eve morning, so I decided to head over to try to capture one of the belted kingfishers that sometimes patrol the river, or maybe a great horned owl holding over from the night shift. Long story short, I didn't get either. However, it had snowed a bit and I was able to capture this male northern cardinal foraging nearby."
D'Agostino said he participated in the contest to challenge himself to "actually tell a story" with his photos. "I love wildlife, and I thought it would be a good way to share what we have right here in our backyard. As I improve, I would love to somehow contribute to some wildlife conservation efforts."
Contest judges admired the photo's composition and clarity. Individual snowflakes are visible on the bird's beak, and the cardinal's cherry red plumage and crest are crisp and captivating against the wintry gray background.
December photos that earned honorable mentions were taken by: Sharon McCartan Bruemmer of Lockport for a stunning sky scene at Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve, Nancy Havener of Naperville for a crimson sunset at Whalon Lake, Aisha Ray of Romeoville for three playful opossums cavorting in a tree at Isle a la Cache and Barbara Parisi of Channahon for a serene landscape setting at McKinley Woods.
The contest began May 1 and concluded December 31. During that time period, 725 photos were submitted.
VIEW THE FINALISTS AND OTHER ENTRIES ON FLICKR
Now that the 2017 contest has ended, eight monthly finalists will compete for top honors via public voting on the District's Facebook page. Voting will begin Thursday, January 4. The top three vote-getters will win prizes: a messenger-style bag for first place, a digital photo frame for second place and a Michaels gift card for third place.
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