Our amazing planet.

... And A Cardinal in A Snowy Tree

Muscatatuck National Wildlief Refuge, bird photos
(Image credit: Jolie B Studios/U.S. Department of the Interior)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Indiana's first wildlife refuge.

A photographer captured this photo of a plump cardinal — a brilliant Christmas red — perched above the snow in the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. 

Muscatatuck, at 7,802 acres in Central Indiana, is teeming with wildlife this time of year. Over 280 species of birds have been seen at the refuge, which is critical habitat during their migrations across North America. Of course, winter isn't the only time to find wildlife in these swampy woods. Some animals, like white-tailed deer, raccoons and turkeys can be seen year-round. Some 185,000 visitors flock to the refuge each year.

The Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge was born in 1966 as a refuge for waterfowl in search of food and rest during their annual migrations. The refuge is named after the Muscatatuck River — "muscatatuck" means "land of winding waters."

Recently, the importance of the refuge has been more apparent than ever. A pair of bald eagles has been nesting in a remote swamp here for more than a decade. Lucky visitors might spot adults and immature eagles hunting for fish over marshes, moist soil and lakes.

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Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.