Sunday, April 7, 2013

Birds with attitude

It's easy to attribute animals' movements and body language to emotions, and read them as we would interpret something similar done by a human. Although I am confident that mammals and birds experience feelings that may be complex, and may in many cases be similar to my own, I think it is apparent that the expression of emotion varies a lot among species. So, while it can't hurt to be attentive to signs that a wild animal may be fearful, curious, even playful, I wouldn't jump to conclusions when a momentary posture seems to indicate disdain!

I find it fun, nevertheless. Yesterday was a day of luck for catching humor in the birds at Shelley Lake. Not long after the shot above, I grabbed this next one, a Double-crested Cormorant, I think. I'm sure it had no idea it could look so much like a high school student, but come on, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout: attitude!

I suppose this is some kind of a white Muscovy duck. Anyway, check out the expression. The golden water is caused by just the right angle for reflection of the marsh grass in the background, lit by the late afternoon sun.

Most bird photos are done with long telephoto lenses. The Canada geese are so used to people that I could use a 17 mm lens to get this shot of the boy watching and being watched.

Here's a little overview of a quiet spot, an escape from the crowds of humans and ducks.

Blackwater photo ops.

An overview of another site.

This face reminds me a little of a Turkey vulture.

A determined look and a fast paddle.

Humor wasn't confined to the birds yesterday. This dog's owner must be as wacky as I am, and the dog is certainly patient.

On the way home from the lake, I spotted a Turkey vulture in someone's front yard. I parked, got out my camera rig as discreetly as I could, and got this shot of an "ugly" face on a graceful body. Maybe ugly to us, but not to others of its kind.

When it took off, I did not manage a good in-flight shot, except maybe for this funky one, which kind of fits with my theme of birds with attitude.

Here, the body and head are completely hidden and the wings are partly cut off. The lens was too long for such a large bird! So, I rotated the photo and pretended it was a flower.

Here are more shots of the takeoff. These are not print quality; rather, they show me that I should find some time to practice photographing birds in flight, to be ready for the next time I get an unusual opportunity like this one. There could have been a real keeper shot in this sequence, if I had nailed the exposure and focus. It's not easy while pivoting to try to follow a bird moving laterally.

Fun! And some of these birds are seriously beautiful.



  1. Wonderful images. It takes time, dedication and split second timing to achieve these illustrations.
    Well done!!!!!!

    John Stanton

  2. Thank you John! I'm glad you liked them. I have great respect for your photography, which gives your words extra meaning for me.


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