I am tired of waiting for the overdue hints of spring. It is time to take matters in my own hands and post pictures of the birds that are flocking to my bird feeder. They have been coming all winter, but they have become more enthusiastic. I suspect they are storing up for important spring “activities”.
|House Finch Pairing
Along with a suet container, my feeder dangles just off our deck and within easy range of the sunroom. It is still cold, but I can manage to settle in with the window cracked to get some unobstructed views of my many visitors. From my location the 400mm lens brings me close, and with good light and an ISO of 800 I can get some great hand-held shots, holding the shutter at 1/500 to 1/1250 the of a second.
These nervous little birds tend to flit in and out quickly, but I can often hold my focus long enough to get what I want.
In a few short sittings, I have been able to capture Tufted Titmice, Gold Finches, House Finches, Purple Finch, Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals and, of course, endless numbers of little Chickadees.
This year my feeding station is not as rich and elaborate as previously. Given the devastation of previous bear attacks, I have simplified with one small feeder which proved effective in blocking the frequent squirrel assaults. The reduced capacity required more frequent refilling, but it is less susceptible to damage.
|Gold Finch Snack
Bird feeder photography is simple, especially when compared to the usual birding techniques. There is not lying for hours on the cold damp ground waiting for something to happen. I sit in a comfortable chair with my coffee at my side, confident that the birds will be attracted to my bait. The birds do not appear natural when they are perched on my feeder, but I have added a branch next to the dispenser. Very often the birds land there, waiting their turn on the feeder.
As close as I am with my 400mm lens, the background always has a nice soft Bokeh, even with f stops from 11 to 22.
I have never been able to detect when a bird will glance in the right direction or suddenly leap from the branch. My action shots have all been a matter of luck and persistence. I always feel fortunate if I get two or three “keepers’ from the hundreds of images I bring back to the computer, but, HEY this is Digital, and I can spare millions of trash pixels for every great shot.
As spring finally arrives, I’ll keep watching the greedy winged creatures. The weather will get warm, but as the window becomes less chilly, it will be the black flies that will chase me from my spot. All-in-all, I think I prefer the cold. Soon it will be the threat of marauding bears that may force an end to my bird feeder season.
|Chickadee, Reach for Flight