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.

Birds-4097.jpg

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

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

The Stare Down

It is very interesting to see how the creatures of nature react when a person sits out in their environment.  In the case of birds, many of them are easily scared away by the slightest move.  This is frustrating because I want the birds to stay around.  On the other hand, squirrels are happy to stick around forever.  They are hoping that I will go away so they can rummage through the bird feeder.

I was not looking to do squirrel portraits but there he was and since we were just staring at each other, why not?  I guess you can’t argue with nature.  Take what you get and it can turn out to be better than you thought.

Oh, by the way, I won the stare down (kind of).  The squirrel finally gave up and waited until I packed up my tripod and left before he feasted on sunflower seeds.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/7.1 – 1/125 sec – ISO 200

Backyard Bird Watching

Since getting my latest toy, the Tamron SP 150-600mm G2, I have been spending more time bird watching.  It really is amazing the sharpness that you can get with this lens and I am loving the close-up views I get of the common birds that I normally see only from a distance.

I need to figure out how to set up more places for the birds to perch in a natural looking area.  I’m finding that I can get some great shots at the feeders but I want more like this one with a natural background.  It’s either that or I need to develop a lot more patience.  It took quite a while for me to capture a few shots with birds in the trees where there was enough light and no leaves blocking the view.  Of course, being what they are, the birds don’t like when I move around so, that’s another challenge.

In any case, I like how this worked out.  This beautiful male cardinal was perched in a dogwood tree in the middle of my yard.  The males usually find a good spot to survey the area around the feeders and keep watch while the female comes down to eat.  I was lucky enough to spot this one on a branch that was not obstructed by other trees.

Good thing I like hanging out in the yard.  Looks like I may be doing this pretty often.

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