Two Harlem residents collaborated on a project recently after one’s photos served as the inspiration for a book about the beginning of the life cycle of a cardinal.
Dealia Yancey and Ted Hood Jr. say photos taken by Hood were the inspiration for their book The Cardinal Nest: Where the Life Cycle Begins. The most difficult part of the process, they said, was paring down the nearly 3,400 photos Hood took to include just 33 in the book.
“The pictures told the story,” Hood said. “All we had to do was put it into words.”
Hood initially set up a remote camera to capture the cardinal as it built a nest in a wreath in the backyard. The photos Hood took chronicle a female cardinal’s process of laying eggs, the hatching of the eggs and the nurturing and protecting of the nestlings until they were ready to leave the nest.
A tripod was strapped to the top of a step ladder and a remote wireless camera captured most images.
It took three days for the female to lay the eggs, 12 days to incubate them and another nine days until the nestlings were ready to leave the nest. The entire process took a total of 24 days.
The book is written based on what Yancey and Hood saw.
“We were our own reference source,” said Hood, who has written and published a book about partisan politics and is currently working on its sequel. “We wrote about what we witnessed with our own eyes.”
Hood and Yancey were careful not to disturb the natural process as the three hatchlings grew to fledglings and eventually left the nest.
Hood, whose first job out of high school was as a staff photographer and sports writer, has long enjoyed photography.
Yancey, a former teacher in Columbia County, currently serves as the media specialist at North Harlem Elementary School. Her passion for writing stems from her love of reading and teaching. She hopes to pursue her dream of writing children’s books.
The Cardinal Nest, geared to ages 9 to 12, is written to conform to the Georgia Performance Standards and is also becoming popular with senior citizens. Recently, Yancey and Hood gave a presentation to second graders at Greenbrier Elementary School and have had book signings in Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties.
The authors have been invited by the Columbia County Libraries to participate in their summer reading program and hope to visit other schools to make their presentation. Several in Columbia and Richmond counties have already expressed interest
To contact Hood and Yancey or to order a copy of The Cardinal Nest, visit their Web site at www.thecardinalnest.com.
“This year, when we saw female and male cardinals in the backyard, we wondered if they were our babies,” said Yancey, who noted that the photos were taken during the spring of 2012.
While they have no plans to collaborate on another book at the moment, Yancey said if the opportunity presents itself, they would certainly entertain the idea.
“We’re just hoping something flies into the backyard,” she said.