Patterns in Nature

I’m fascinated by how wildlife adapts their feathers, fur or skin to display certain patterns or colors to camouflage them from predators or attract a mate. Perhaps no other category of wildlife has more patterns or color than birds. It wasn’t until my husband gave me a good camera lens that I started to really appreciate the intricacy of these adaptations.

American Bittern standing like a reed
American Bittern, photo by Jennifer Bristol

Sometimes I will be marveling at a splendidly colored bird and then poof, it disappears into the lush canopy of green. Despite the fact it is bright orange or yellow, it can fold into the hues and go unnoticed by my human eye. And of course nothing can hide like the American Bittern who is not only colored and patterned like the reeds of the marshes it lives in; it can also stand with its head up and look like a reed.

Then there are some birds, like the male Northern Cardinal that don’t seem interested in blending into any setting. They maintain their brilliant red year round and are often a welcome flash of color on a grey winter day.

But it’s more than just the color that I marvel at, the patterns are of equal interest. Some times it is the pattern on their wings; other times it is how the water beads up and rolls of the back of water fowl. Their feet also hold a house of mystery with various adaptations and designs.

The Green Heron looks like each of its green wing feathers are outlined in gold. No matter what the bird, there is something captivating once we take the time to look closer and see them for what they really are.



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