A stone’s throw from the hub of the John Day Fossil Beds in Eastern Oregon is an historic homestead which has a funny name: James Cant Ranch.

Poor James. Perhaps it just wasn’t his calling.

The ranch isn’t much to see – a genteel building nested in an apple orchard by a babbling river – but when we stopped by to get a fresh angle on Sheep Rock, we discovered a thriving riverside ecosystem, with Western Fence Lizards, garter snakes and evidence that the local robins, perhaps unlike poor James, were making a thriving home of the place.

We don’t know whether the nest was too scrappy for us to recognize or if the egg had been abandoned, but Joe knew immediately that it was a beautiful shot. Framed in rich browns and offset by the green-blue sky of June in Oregon, this photo encapsulates the all the hurry and hope of spring in the high desert.