Bird Brained

I felt like sharing some old bird photography today from the 2007-2008
seasons. I made my choices based on my personal memories and things I
found interesting. That and nothing else.

I’ve gone back and forth in my life in claiming that sunrises/sunsets
or birds are the most prolific subject in my photo files. Being that
most sunrise/sunset pictures are carefully planned ahead of time, only
occasionally being serendipitous, while many, many of my bird shots
were made upon spotting a feathered friend while I was headed out to
do or photograph something else, I would say that birds are my biggest
subject.   I’ve made many bird images on film, but the ability to crop
a digital file made me even more of a bird photographer than previous.
Many, maybe most serious bird photographers began as birders who
wanted better images of the birds they spot. I was however, a
photographer who decided to photograph birds. Both routes work equally

One by one, bird photographers attempt to add one species and then
another. It becomes an obsession to get the next species. As a former
stock photographer, I can tell you that you can hear the rustling of
dollars when you get a good picture of a bird you think a publisher
will want.

All of the photos below were made with my trusty Nikon 500mm f4 lens except for the two hawk images which were created with a Nikon 300mm lens.  Most are crops.

Hard to get species, are a challenge that bird photographers love. The
Osprey, is fairly rare and often nests in remote, wet places in the
upper Midwest of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Those facts made
me a very happy photographer when a birder located a nest within 25
miles of my home in a semi-suburban area. For two seasons, I and my
friends made good use of this site. Of course eventually greedy
photographers who did not know when or where to stop in their pursuit
of images, caused the DNR to relocate the nest.

These first three photos were all created in 2007, while this last one
was made in 2008.

My favorite of these is without doubt the final image which seems to
say, “about time you got home“. This is the only image in today’s post
which has been published. If memory serves, it was in a book about
Ospreys and Bald Eagles published out of the Pacific Northwest.




Even a rarer sight, in a much, much more remote and difficult location
to get to, is the dancing Sharp-tailed Grouse. Wisconsin does have its
share of dancing Sharp-tails and Greater Prairie Chickens (done by me
on film in the 1990s), you just need to get up very early, and have
the patience to work from a photo blind.




Near as I can remember, the two images you see below, which among
about 10 others of the same bird, are the only pictures I have ever made of a
Broad-winged Hawk. I am in fact, using the identification provided by
a birder to say that. One time with one bird that isn’t doing much
doesn’t provide much variety, but the least we can do, is wait for
different  poses or a different turn of the head.

Not only were these made with my 300mm lens rather than my 500mm, I can tell by the dimensions that they are not crops. I made them from my car and I was clearly very close.


Yellow Warblers are actually pretty common in spring and summer in
much of North America, they are also small in size and very active. A moment of rest in front of me and my camera was all I could ask for. I have made 90% (a guess)
of my Warbler pictures while I was out in the open and walking with
tripod and camera. I can only remember two times using my car as a
blind which is the most common way we make bird images.

10Warblers2007 092

11Warblers2007 093

All of our bird images are not, and should not be, of rare or unique
birds. Even the most common subjects are in demand from book and
magazine publishers, but even if they were not, birds are all fun.

In late summer or early fall the American Robins (Wisconsin’s state
bird) that were born that year are out in their own flocks while mom
and dad travel south on their own.

Birds at this age are still a bit clumsy, and far too trusting of
humans. They are also spotted in their design and are a unique part of
your files as a bird photographer. They are in truth, funny!


Tree Sparrows are another very common summer visitor in much of the
northern hemisphere. Like most swallows they are active and hilarious.
They squabble and fight a lot and the perceptive photographer will on
an occasion, be there when it happens.


Being a bird brain is a good thing.

Happy Trails,


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