Simple but beautiful

It really is amazing to look closely at birds we see all the time.  This House Finch is one of those feeder birds that people see all the time but don’t pay much attention to.  The female is pretty much a monochromatic brown but the males have that beautiful glowing red color.

I caught this little guy on a tree branch that was in a shaft of sunlight in the late afternoon.  I love how you can see all the detail in the feathers and that head that looks like it was dipped in fire-engine red paint.  I guess when it comes down to it, there really isn’t anything in nature that is plain and boring, we just aren’t looking closely enough.

Male House Finch
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/400 sec – ISO 800

Curious Cardinal

What can I say, it’s David Akoubian’s fault!  I guess I was asking for it when I got his opinion on upgrading my long lens.  Now, I’m addicted to watching the birds around my house and trying to get just one more good shot.  On the positive side, the new Tamron 150-600 makes getting good shots a lot easier.

I sit out in the yard and watch the birds, hoping that they will land in a spot that will have some light, not be blocked by miscellaneous branches and where the birds are posing for me.  At the same time, I find that the birds occasionally seem to enjoy watching me.  When this female cardinal stopped at one of the few “perfect spots”, she kept cocking her head to the side with an expression like “what the heck are you doing?”.

Yeah, photographers are kind of crazy.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/6.3 – 1/125 sec – ISO 200

Eastern Towhee

The towhee is one of my favorite local birds not only because of it’s beautiful coloring but also because of it’s call.  I have been told that it is not good to imitate bird calls because this makes the bird think there is another of their kind competing for territory.  Not sure if that is completely true but I can’t resist answering their calls and hearing them return the song.

I had more of a challenge getting a good shot of this bird than I was expecting.  They seem to be very aware of my presence and quite skittish when anything moves nearby.  I sometimes have trouble distinguishing the towhee from a robin when sighting them from a distance.  The coloring is similar but the towhee has a much more slender build and has a white under-side where the robin is mostly orange underneath.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

Lots of Baby Birds

I’ve been watching the birds in my backyard and spending most of the time looking at the feeders I have out.  There are lots of interesting birds that come visit the suet and seed feeders but there are also some that prefer to stay on the ground.  The Brown Thrashers seem to like the ground most you see them jumping about looking for insects more than on the feeders.

I discovered that there must be a nest at the edge of my yard because there are 2 fledglings there who hop about and flap their wings waiting for mom and dad to come feed them.  The babies are out of the nest and able to fly but they still seem to prefer food delivered directly to them.

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I also noticed a behavior that I’m not sure why it happens.  The babies will lay flat on the ground and spread their wings out, looking as though they were injured.  I would think they are either trying to cool off or rid themselves of some kind of insects. They will lay like this for a good while and then jump up and hop away.

It really is amazing how much there is to see just going out the back door.

Brown Thrasher and young
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/14 – 1/125 sec – ISO 800

Red-headed Woodpecker

I didn’t realize how many woodpeckers we have right in my own backyard.  I was actually trying to capture a different one when this specimen came into view.  The one I had seen earlier was a Red-bellied woodpecker but this is the red-headed variety.  The two are similar but the red-bellied one has red on the back of the head only.

All of the woodpeckers seem to be quite fond of suet feeders but they are also easy to scare away.  At first, this one landed on the side of the dogwood tree where my suet feeder hangs but when he spotted me, zipped around the back side.  You can see he peeked around the side in the first image and only hopped out after a while of checking the situation first.

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I call this bird “he” but since the plumage of the male and female of this species are the same, I don’t know which this is.  I’m sure the birds can tell the difference so, I guess that’s all that counts.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

North America’s smallest woodpecker

I’m learning quite a lot as I have been working with my new Tamron lens and watching the birds in my back yard.  This is one of the visitors that I have been trying to get a good image of recently.  This is a female Downy Woodpecker (the male has a red patch on the back of the head) that I was watching for a while.  They seem to be quite aware of my presence and often hide by circling around to the back of trees or fly off quickly when they see the slightest motion.

Fortunately for me, they seem to really like suet feeders and though they are easily spooked, they keep coming back.  I watched for a while and could see a pattern of how they usually approached the feeder the same way.  If I set up on the tree that they would land on before going to the feeder, I could catch a few shots before they jumped over there.

The other thing I learned is the mosquitoes will stay off of your arms and legs when you spray but they don’t mind biting you right through your shirt if you don’t spray that also.  Boy am I itchy!  Need to remember that for next time.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/100 sec – ISO 800

Indigo Bunting singing

For those of you who do not know David Akoubian one thing I can tell you for sure about him is that he’s a bird nut!  When we went on his Spring in the Smoky Mountains workshop, I was sure that we would be chasing birds and I was not disappointed.

David has an uncanny ability to spot birds and to identify them by their calls.  There were two species that we came across in Cades Cove that David showed a lot of interest in.  One was the Orchard Oriole that I posted an image of earlier.  The other was the Indigo Bunting that you see here.  The male bunting would fly up to a high branch and sing for the females who were gathering nesting material in the fields below.

They are not very big birds and since the day was quite overcast and they were perched up high, it was hard to get a good shot.  I got a few when he came down to look for something to eat but I like the featured shot above where he is in full song best.

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Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/500 sec – ISO 800