The Bufflehead Birder

January 23, 2009

Fun with Cardinals

One thing about bird feeders is that you can always count on something to photograph. You can also always count on certain birds to make an appearance. One of my all time favorites is the Northern Cardinal which I always loved as a child and love even more after being cardinal-deprived while I lived in Colorado. I miss the Golden Eagles and magpies of the West but there is some compensation when that bright red snatches my attention amidst the grays and browns of a winter forest.


Peace Valley Natural Area, which is just northwest of Doylestown, has a nice feeder station behind the nature center. Some of the most active visitors are the cardinals. The males take turns chasing off other birds and play King of the Feeder Ledge and munch down some seeds before being chased off by another male. 


The females wait quietly in the nearby shrubs until there is a lull in the mange-a-mania, and then perch politely on the feeder ledge.

 mangebird.jpg    sitting-pretty.jpg

But no matter one’s feeder manners, seed-crunching is a messy business.


The House Finches were the only birds that stood their ground against the cardinals.

Face Off

Sometimes the middle slat in the blind is right in the way of my lenses but I don’t mind hunching over for an hour or so because the action is so constant. For most of the shots in this post I used my Canon 20D SLR and 300mm lens. The fellow below was digiscoped.
You might think that feeder photo sessions would grow boring, but you know what? They don’t. First of all, I can get some nice close ups. Here is a cardinal with a peaceful and benign look to his face, but then, it’s likely he was sated on seeds and was content to let the rest of Bird World enjoy the feeder offerings for a few moments.


And there are some fun surreal action shots that I create with slow shutter speeds. The fellow below was making a fast reverse from off the ledge when a house finch made it clear no cardinals need sit and eat.


In between forays to the feeder cardinals made enjoyable subjects for idle shots. I could never get tired of that red on the male.


Nor could I ignore the subtle hues of red and tan mixed in with the olive green plumage on the female. With her back to my lens this female blends nicely into the background of her environment.


Yes, those cardinals were everywhere. I took a shot of this Carolina Wren and just look who manages to get his picture in there.

Wren and Cardinal

May 21, 2008

The Now Moment

Filed under: Bird SLR Photography, Digiscoping — admin @ 10:05 pm

I am not one of those people who love to shop around. When I want something, I want it, and I want it NOW.

I had been thinking for several months about getting a bird spotting scope and a point and shoot camera to do some digiscoping. So when a Red-bellied woodpecker crawled around on a tree not 30 feet from me one day as I was wandering along a stream bed, I got a sudden hankering to bite the bullet and get the digiscope gear.

So first thing, I called my brother to ask what kind of spotting scope I should get if I want to get into digiscoping. My brother has been a bird photographer for a long time and knows about things like computers, cameras, scopes, GPS units, whatever. Why waste time looking online, reading stuff I won’t understand when a sibling is a phone call away, let alone just 2 miles down the road?

“You should really go online and check what’s out there,” he said.

I wasn’t happy about that because I had a bad case of the ‘nows’ and if I could just be advised of what to get now, then I could go get it now, and come back in a week to try and get a shot of that woodpecker before it grew old and died.

“Well, should I get a 65mm or an 80mm?” I asked into my cell phone. (No, I don’t normally chat on cell phones while in the woods. Please don’t think I do. I use it as a watch and it happened to be handy.)

“It depends what you like.”

How did I know what I like? He’s supposed to tell me. I groaned because it was now most likely to be yet another few months before I would figure out what I wanted and trust myself to make a good decision.

However, believe it or not, when I went online to research I really got into reading up on scopes and checking birding blogs to see what people use and what kind of shots they can get.

About a month after that woodpecker had given me that peck in the pants, my Swarovski 80mm ATS HD spotting scope arrived at my doorstep from Eagle Optics. A yippee moment for sure.

Swarovski 80 ATS HD Scope

If you want to read more about my digiscope equipment please click on My Digiscope Set Up page. If not, you can enjoy the puzzle of the week coming up next.

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