The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Bird Photography with Melissa Groo Practice Understanding Birds for Better Photos

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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Did your sightings surprise you? How do you think the research you did might help inform your photography? Tell us about it.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Kitty
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      K_StJohn
      I discovered these wood storks (mycteria americana) in Naples, Florida, recently, while taking mid-afternoon walks around my mother's retirement community. I often see egrets and herons and was so surprised to see wood storks among them wading and feeding in the marsh waters just steps away from the walking path. I have only seen wood storks from afar and they really look different when flying through the air. I was glad to have had my iphone with me, but next time I visit my mother in Florida, I will plan to have a "real" camera with me and take more time to observe them. Here at home, in Virginia, I look forward to setting up a birdfeeder and watching what birds arrive. I often see pileated woodpeckers in the trees above our house during the morning "golden" hours but a normal lens just doesn't reach them like a telephone lens would.  I wonder if there is a way to take a photo through binoculars.... :) stork wadingstork flying
    • Kaili
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Kaili PS
      I often see flocks of Golden-Crowned Kinglets in small water features, like ponds or drainages. The rest of the time they are high up in trees and hard to photograph. I was surprised that this little one was alone and did not seem at all bothered by my presence. The research I did for this assignment helped me narrow down the likely hood of seeing a kinglet at this particular pond, and when. I also learned that these are fascinating little birds that are active even in very cold climates (ie winter in Maine). This was surprising because they are so tiny. Now that I know this I am excited to try and photograph them in snow, especially once I purchase a fancier camera. IMG_9623 (2)
    • Hilary
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      hchasin
      I have lots of Chickadees at my feeders. Through research, I’ve come to learn that each bird will hide tens of thousands of seeds in hiding spots for the winter months. They remember each one. Now I notice them checking under roofing tiles, in little nooks and crannies for places to hide their seeds. 1A0CA091-4050-4CC8-89C1-4A2E6953A7CE
    • Shea
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      runnerboy13
      I went into our local woods for this and there was a bunch of activity, there were a lot of winter visitors in North Carolina, such as White throated sparrows, Yellow bellied sapsuckers, Bufflehead, and a Ruddy duck.20201116130533__MG_6275 I have never before seen a ruddy duck in the lake, but today must have been different! There was a lone immature or female swimming around , and I managed to get some pretty close shots. these are mainly dark because the bird was in the shadows, which is tough to get good shots. These where both taken by a Cannon Rebel T6 with a Tamron 300mm lens20201116130455__MG_6268
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      liketobird
      I have found that by waiting and watching the light on the subject is really important for a good photo if possible. Light will determine a good photo to being a great photo. I had taking numerous photos of these Evening Grobeaks the best ones were the shots of the eye being lit by the natural light. evening grossbeak_11-12-2020 - 1 (9)evening grossbeak_11-12-2020 - 1 (11)
    • Dennis
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      JeffersonTW
      DSC_2787
    • Dennis
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      JeffersonTW
      I have been observing a pair of White Breasted Nuthatches in our yard and at our feeders for going on 3 years now. The first year they were extremely timid and came nowhere near me and I kept a respectful distance from them.  This year was a breakthrough year since they decided to nest in a bird box on the side of our garden shed.  They worked diligently at nest building, tending and feeding their young.  What surprised me the most was that they were able to teach me how to coexist peacefully while they raised their young.  When bringing food to the nest they would sit on top of shed to check out the surroundings and if I was too close they would begin their little honking all expressing annoyance/alarm. My job was to break eye contact turn from them and walk away. Over time they became more and more tolerant of my presence and proximity as long as  broke eye contact. Throughout late summer the family of four has maintained a presence in our yard and is almost as bold as the Black Capped Chickadees when they come to the feeders. I am able to stand fairy close and get some reasonably good photos. What I've learned is that given time birds will learn to trust you in their territory. It might actually take several seasons for this to happen.DSC_6066.NEF
    • Kabita
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Kabita_Karki
      I choose to monitor one of the very common bird in my area, which visits almost everyday on my terrace, Common pigeon ( Columba livia, Order: Columbiforms). Eventhough, I see this bird daily, I have never noticed it carefully. I always run behind the rare birds, as most of the birdwatchers,  but never consider observing this common bird in around my home. Hence, I decided to follow Melissa and do some research on this common pigeon. Habitat: common and widespread resident urban bird, commonly found in temples, farm, villages and towns. Altitudinal range 75- 4200m. Food : cultivated food mainly seeds also green shoots Nesting and breeding: It generally nests in holes, rock crevices and ruined walls. They breed throughout the year. Distinctive behaviour: they live in large flocks and their flight in the flock is spectacular to watch, following a certain pattern. This bluish Grey bird has glistering metallic green, purple and magenta sheen on neck and upper breast which shines gloriously in sun. Sound : goootr-goo ... communicate each other Migration : resident bird After this information on hand, I started observing the common pigeon. I observed that they were not comfortable with my camera, as they fly as soon as they see my camera. it took me couple of days of observation to take this picture. The pigeon was sun basking in the first sun in this winter morning. I observed grooming and scratching the feathers. He was sun basking as well as checking me from time to time. Finally, seems like he has no problem from my presence. I learned to be patient and  more observant, thereby respecting their space from this exercise. thank you pc : sorry for the photos as they are not real crash hot, as I was using 28- 300mm lens Nikon D600. DSC_1823DSC_1824 DSC_1830
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Suzie Chaffey
      I have been monitoring Common Loons for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies several years at two very different lake communities. What I noticed most this year while monitoring a Loon pair on a remote, more natural setting was the increased fear/caution response to humans. The previous lake was much more populated with 3+x the development and human/boat activity. It was a true example of city versus country Loon behavior. On the busier lake I became known by the resident pair over the years(maybe they recognized my kayak). It is as if they knew I was helping to protect them yet they were also used to the human activity. As I placed the floating raft signage in the spring, which warns people to keep away during nesting season, the Loons swam near by. As I checked on them weekly with active nest incubation I knew the respectful distance and was able to photograph the activity. Not so on the more remote location lake of the same acreage yet less than a 3rd of the development and fewer motorized boats. I carefully monitored the nest from a very safe and respectful distance, however the parent on the nest would lay low on the nest aware and afraid of my presence...it slid into the water. I was horrified that I was the cause of the departure. Never anything I would have wanted to do. This was a different culture and experience for sure. I watched from my property on the lake as others approached the cove unaware of the nest and I am sure the same departure by the nesting parent. These loons need much more space and respect. The nest failed 2 attempts in 2020 and as I have learned that it has failed for several years. Now that I am new to this lake and monitoring the resident pair I have have suggested changes in access to the cove during breeding/nesting season. Historically no signage was placed because it was thought human activity was so low and it was a much more organic approach to Loon habitation, however kayakers were aiding in the failed nesting seasons. As they paddled nearby, the parents abandoned the nest and predators took the eggs. I was completely aware and the parent left the nest when I approached at a distance to monitor and photograph so it had to be so when those unknowingly approached. This was a very clear experience with difference in location/habitat and behavior of local animals. As animals of a certain species are very similar they are different in as many ways. Melissa, your experience with the Belted Kingfisher Nest was a perfect example and hits home with my experiences too. Thank you for sharing! They are such an elusive, beautiful bird.    
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      lhoneycutt51
      I learned how Black-billed Magpies use their tails to maintain balance.  They are absolutely crazy about peanuts, and emptied the feed in less than 5 minutes.  They come rocketing in and use their tails at the last minute to stop when they land directly on the feeder.  The research made me think about how the tall grass will obscure them while they are ground feeding, so I photographed them from my second-floor window.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      lhoneycutt51
      DSC_0081
    • Aidan
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      26keata
      saw this at my feeder and watched it for a while, the took out my camera at a safe distance. I love the way that the White breasted nuthatch can feed upside-down!
    • Aidan
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      26keata
      IMG_2644
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Cynthia_Case
      ICCC13B4D-C858-4BA6-9B66-C8180DF7715A
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Rebecca_Houseman
      Birding at Nisqually NRW this Great Blue Heron was fishing along the pier. I sat sat a safe distance while this beautiful bird ate this fish.DSC_8102
    • Shirley
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Shirley1951
      Walking in a field late June when I saw a mother feeding her young on a barbed-wire fence.  Time and again she swooped over the field & pond & quickly returned with insects.  This continued for a very long time and they seemed to be totally unaware of my presence and the pictures I was taking of them.   August is their peak migration time.DSC_7251 (5)DSC_7258 (3)
    • Carolyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      carolyn.persad
      I look forward to seeing the hummingbirds show up for the summer at my feeder.  This year they came but were not  drinking from the feeder so I visited a local store and they recommended I change the feeder and brand of nectar and that worked.  I have enjoyed observing them in Massachusetts but they will be migrating south soon.  This is a female Ruby Throated hummingbird.IMG_2899 (2).
    • Cecilia
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Cyanocoraxyncas11
      I was walking in this road in the Yucatán Peninsula and we hear a couple of Laughing Falcons very near and we walk closer follow the call, and in a dry tree they were both. One fly away and the other stay a long time. like as if it felt good with us. 5TLgQLdDTAucUyk3Od0JZg_thumb_4909
    • Renee
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      rsparks
      I was interested in the American Woodcock. I had never seen one in my neighborhood but thought I'd heard one once when walking in an area. For this assignment, I went to the marshy area where I thought I had heard the woodcock and sat for a while. I went in the early AM. There was a lot of activity in the marsh and at one point the woodcock just sort of waddled out of the weeds and onto an area where the lawn had been mowed. I watched it simply sit on the lawn for 20 min. or so. I snapped this photo and left.A46I8578-2
    • Jeff
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      JPieterick
      DSC_5143-5x7 I spotted this Surf Scoter in the marsh at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. This is a rare find for inland Wisconsin and he was working his way along the edge of the cattails on the opposite edge of an opening that flowed along the road. Using my car as a blind, I parked and waited for him to come to me rather than attempting to move closer. The bird remained in view rather than retreating to cover and passed within thirty feet of me apparently unaware of my presence. I used the same approach waiting in a hidden position while this Black-Crowned Night Heron continued feeding along the shore at the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve and finally maneuvered into the proper light for this photo. Barkhausen_160625_5891
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      rosyrobin
      I went out looking for great blue heron which are found around a local lake  instead I found this beauty—a juvenile black crowned night heron  just standing there watching me!7E6CB418-2DD6-4D9F-92A2-02721042432E33AA1807-34E8-422C-9CCC-8B55168E0FA0
    • Dika
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      dikang
      I followed Melissa's advice and walked on the shore in the early morning at low tide.  I was especially happy to find an abundance of Western Snowy Plovers on the beach at Coal Oil Point (just west of UCSB).  These birds are listed as threatened since 1993 but they nest at this protected location each year.  Many signs encourage visitors to keep a distance from the nesting area which is roped off.  However the rest of the beach is open to walkers and surfers. I was especially pleased that a pair of these very cute young birds showed no fear of me as I watched them.  Though I did not get down on my belly on the wet sand I squatted for quite a long time.  Neither bird moved until I got up and left. My shutter speed was 1/800, my aperture F4 and ISO 160.  My lens was at 600mm.  When I look at these photos greatly magnified I can see every individual feather. Editing was in Photoshop only - haze removal and Levels adjustment.  Only minor cropping. DSC02271SnowyDSC02130Snowy2 The rear bird is slightly out of focus due to narrow range of focus (F4). DSC02239Snowy
      • Genevieve
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        VevaFotos
        Really gorgeous!
      • Kay
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        KLJWatercolors
        Love how the white pops in these images!  Also like that the second bird in the middle shot is not in sharp focus, adding to the emphasis in the bird in front.  Just starting this course myself.  Hope I can find birds as cute as these!
      • Aidan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        26keata
        love the photos!
      • Kabita
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        Kabita_Karki
        Awesome shots. All three photos have their own characters. First one simply beautiful plover. Second photo-   slightly out of focus rear bird brings all your focus to the front one, kind of emphasising the bird in the front. Nice. Third photo- Front view with the reflection , pretty cool.  (Is that an angry face?? :) )
    • James
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Pipes2
      • I'm always excited when migration begins in early spring. This is when the Black and White Warblers pass through our property. This year I was only to see them for a short time. On vacation at the lake house on Nantahala we went to the Wayah Bald Tower were we spotted the Black and White Warbler that you see in the two pictures where there is no leaves on the trees. With that said, for this section of the course I decided to study the Black and White Warbler. It's a fascinating bird. Builds its nest on the ground next to a tree, log or a bolder. Prefers primary to secondary forest. Eats most bugs you find on trees as it climbs around the bottom of the trunk making its way up similar to a Nut Hatch or Brown Creeper. As I set out to see if I could observe and photo one this week ( 07/21/2020). I was able to get a photo of the Black and White Warbler. (the photo of the trees with leaves). They are now you see me now you don't. Maybe you tell that it's a Black and White Warbler.Black and White Wabler callingBlack and White Wabler searchingBlack and White Wabler
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Lia0104
      I researched Cedar Waxwings because my usual observations of them are when they are located at the tops of tall trees on bare branches.  The All About Birds site listed various berry trees that are favorite foods of these beautiful birds.  A local photographer mentioned a park where there are serviceberry trees.  Sitting on a bench in view of the trees, I could hear the bzeee calls from high up in the trees around me.  It wasn't long before the Cedar Waxwings were flying down for the berries.  I only managed to photograph them in half-sun/half-shade but they were fun to watch. DSC_0715
      • Aidan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        26keata
        I live in NY and would love to see these birds. You have nicely captured them though! Great job!
    • Michele
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      serenecardinal
      DSC09147
      • Michele
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        serenecardinal
        The following image of a Mourning Dove was taken quite early in my backyard. I took this photo actually from behind glass from our living room window where we often see many different birds gathering.  I can always tell when the Mourning Doves are near by their cooing and this one landed right in front of my eyes.  We see them year round and often in pairs. They do tend to dominate this old wooden table but often we see them sharing seeds on the ground with Cardinals and Grackles.  Occasionally, I see them on telephone wires resting along with taking rests on some large oak trees near us.
      • Aidan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        26keata

        @Michele I live in a very wooded area, and I see them resting in trees a lot too. I also see them put up there wings like this a lot to when threatened. I would not have guessed that this picture was through a window. Great job!

    • Jody
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      jodyandpuny
      todayearly Marchtwo weeks ago One of my favorite birds is the Brown-headed Barbet. I loved these birds' songs long before I knew who they were, got into birding, or tryed my hand at photographing birds. I find them to be pretty shy though. In early March, I discovered one pounding away making a nest on a dead tree near Thalangama Lake, where I try to walk every day. It was so engrossed in what it was doing that it didn't even care that I was nearby. Then quarantine came, and for two months I couldn't check back on the site. Once we were free to return, and walk (with masks), I checked again over and over, and figured too much time had passed. Then one morning I spotted one of the barbets coming out of the hole, so I kept checking back, keeping a distance (bridge camera with 1200 zoom). Saw it a few times, and nothing again for the last couple of weeks, so I thought maybe the time had passed. This morning I saw one of them again, on a branch near the hole! There aren't a lot of good books on the birds of Sri Lanka, but I do have a couple I keep on hand and reference frequently. It's often the case - as in this instance - that I witness something and then learn more about it. Primary breeding season is February to July (fits my timeframe), and "the bird, working solitarily, hammers and pecks out a hole in a soft-wooded dead stump or branch" (G.M. Henry, A Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka, p. 324). I also learned from the guide that the calls I love so much are the pair keeping in touch with one another from some distance.
      • Kay
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        KLJWatercolors
        Nice shots!  Great clarity and color!   Very cool looking bird.  I believe I've only ever seen one in Tanzania!
      • Aidan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        26keata
        I wish I could see that bird, let alone photograph it so well! I think this is such a cool bird. How did you find its nest?
    • Dika
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      dikang
      DSC09932Pel DSC09820PelLarge The Brown Pelican (Pelicanus occidentalis) is a common species today along all our coast but it was on the Endangered Species list  from 1970 to 2009 and became extinct in some states.  The cause was the use of the now banned pesticide DDT which caused pelican eggs to become so thin they would fracture before the embryo was fully developed.  There has been an enormous conservation effort to restore this magnificent species, especially so in Santa Barbara where some of my birding colleagues have done regular brown pelican counts.  They are very sociable birds both congregating and flying together often in large groups.  I know that there is a breeding colony on Anacapa Island off the southern California coast.  It is an enormous bird and because of its size it is easier to photograph in flight than most other smaller birds.  The birds I've been seeing lately along with the Black Skimmers are juveniles, the adult being mostly gray and white.  It is fun to watch them when they dive head first into the ocean to capture fish.
    • Dave
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      birdwatchdave
      I spotted a Great Blue Heron last week in a nearby marsh, and was inspired by this class to learn more about this species. I started paying attention to the tide charts for my area, and read about GBH feeding habits, and am now trying to use that to predict when he'll be there again. The last few mornings I saw him there 1 to 4 hours after low tide, but this morning I was there an hour before low tide and he wasn't there. As I was leaving I saw him in a different spot, not in the marsh, but way out at the tide line of the beach. Now I am wondering if he goes up to the marsh only after low tide. Will have to keep checking to find out. This photo was taken four hours after low tide.   1E7A2288
      • Dika
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        dikang
        Lovely photo.  I love the intense colors in both the bird and the water.
    • Dika
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      dikang
      DSC06649Cropped I live a block from Alice Keck Park and walk my dog there often in the mornings.  One day I noticed a juvenile Great Blue Heron in the pond.  I walked home and got my camera, then waited for about an hour while watching this bird's movements.  Suddenly he spotted and caught a large fish and held it in his bill.   The fish was obviously too large for him to swallow, so he had to drop it.  I shot multiple frames. BlCrNiHeron I often bird in the evenings at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge in Santa Barbara.  I was seated at the third viewing platform when a young Black Crowned Night Heron flew in and landed on the bench not more than 15 feet away from me.  He was quite comfortable sitting there and watching me for several minutes.  It was a wonderful experience!  These birds are breeding in this area as I have seen several juveniles there as well. Dika Golovatchoff
    • George
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      wg_cochran
      I shot this goldfinch feeding on a sweet-gum ball in mid-January this year at a city-owned swamp near my house.  The behavior surprised me because I had always though of sweet-gum balls as being useless outdoor Legos. So I did a bit of research and found out that sweet-gum balls provide a critical source of food in mid-winter to several species, particularly goldfinches, at a time when other food sources are very scarce.  It gave me a new appreciation for the role of the sweet-gum tree in the environment, that I wouldn't have known without the experience of taking this picture.   Goldfinch on sweetgum
    • Scott
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      jscrist
      The online resources are such a great help!  I have loved watching and photographing Great Blue Herons for some time.  We are blessed to live on a small lake in Florida where we have a fair amount of birds and the occasional American Alligator.  This GBH was fishing for breakfast one recent morning and I was able to capture a few frames.20200707-GBH-with-Fish-1-2
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      cowan62
      I, too, am intimidated by the quality of the photographs submitted thus far. They encourage me to improve. I try to be a faithful student and follow directions, so I decided to research two birds that I had hoped to see yesterday. They were the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and the Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Both had been seen on on the slopes of Montosa Canyon which includes their natural habitat of isolation, slopes and mesquite trees. Unfortunately on a gray day, I neither heard nor saw them. It was uncharacteristically quiet in the canyon. Eager to fulfill my assignment, I switched to the only birds I was hearing, Bell's Vireos and Northern Cardinals. My Bell's photos were very poor and the Cardinal was pretty far away. It was the best I could do. I did my research but not on the bird I photographed, the commonly seen Cardinal. Northern Cardinal
    • Phil
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      onchi Phil
      I very much appreciate this lesson on responsibility. I have a question from a later lesson. You recommend using a teleconverter. My camera is a Nikon D5300. My long lense is a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400 1:4.5-5.6G. What teleconverter do you recommend ? Thank you very much 🙏   Phil Fitzpatrick bgaldoflife@yahoo.com
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Hello Phil,   Welcome to the course. Melissa isn't a full time staff member so she won't be on here to answer questions. The discussion boards are peer to peer for the most part. However we do have several more advanced photographers on here that might have a suggestion for you on this.  Melissa will indeed talk about teleconverters in the lesson about gear. I hope you and everyone enjoy the course. When you post questions you should come back at a later date to look for replies.
      • Fred
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        fred721
        The Nikon 1.4 teleconverter will cost you one f stop so your maximum aperture at 400 mm will be f8. Most Nikon DSLRs will auto focus at f8, but not all. Make sure you check Nikon's web site for compatibility info.
    • Siddhesh
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      virimmune210393
      This was my first successful sighting and close observation of a bird! Common name: Common Wagtail Scientific name: Motacilla alba Bird1_1 I recently began observing birds in my surroundings. This was one of the commonly encountered species in the garden and surroundings with ample fresh water. Observation: This species appeared almost daily and at different times of the day. One interesting observation was (correct me if I am wrong), that it tried to keep its radius of food capture constant. When I tried to go near it (15 feet away), it flew away to the next perch, whoch was about 30 feet away. However, as I kept still and sat there for a while, it returned to its radius of food search. Also, it seemed to be a pretty confident bird. I also saw a second one, which it tried to follow. I do not clearly understand if it was an opposite gender, since the information about the bird says that it breeds throughout the year, but especially from July till December. I think the research I did at the beginning helped me to know which species are commonly found and I can hope to see most of the times during the day. This also means that I had more chances of spotting it. I look forward to learning and applying it in the field. Thanks, Siddhesh
    • Francisco
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Paco Mier
      Lately I had been trying to photograph the birds on a garden in Mexico City. I like the bronzed cowbird, for its              red eyes and it´s mating display, the male will it inflate itself and hover above the female. This bird lives all year round here, I didn´t know it is a brood parasite.
    • Francisco
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Paco Mier
      IMG_0011 (2)IMG_0022 (2)
    • Scott
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      tlisch
      I've primarily been photographing from our porch and yard, but I was certainly surprised by how uncommonly beautiful the common grackle is.  I've taken to peeking over our fence (with the help of an upturned bucket) into the neighboring field where they tend to feed so as not to startle them! I've been lucky once or twice and already been waiting on the porch when they've landed closer, and managed to catch this stunning male on our arch! I've also started taking my camera with me when I bike, so I can stop by one of the local ponds and capture the wildlife there. Even a few minutes away, the difference in diversity is striking. DSC_0044DSC_0047DSC_0051
      • Kabita
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        Kabita_Karki
        Wow Scott you have captured some real emotions and expressions. First impression I got going through your pictures was something like..... "Who is that spying on me?? ... "Ahhh I will be fine ....."  ..... "No, its not ... here I come... watch out ... " Awesome.
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      CynthiaDI
      After my first less than thrilling early morning sit spot, I went to the bay and carefully and slowly  zig-zagged down a pier to sit for awhile. Although blazing hot, it turned out to be a much better spot for this time of year. I was able to practice trying to shoot birds in flight, diving for fish, but I realize that I need to work on my lighting as many of the birds just blended into the background - the sky was a bright light blue. I am really looking forward to delving into the next lessons on how to use the setting on my camera to optimize my outings. My best pictures were still shots of laughing gulls. I was using my 200-500mm lens so I was able to get some close up shots without interfering with their environment. My favorite shot - gull yoga - tree pose. C592AAE4-483A-4C51-9CFC-A1E1E535220E
      • Kabita
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        Kabita_Karki
        So interesting gull yoga. I am more inclined to call it Ekapadasana (One foot pose) rather than tree pose :) Nice one Cynthia.
    • Karin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      ktkirchhoff
      I went last week to a park where Wood Ducks are reliably found. To my surprise there were no males, but I found a female with her babies sitting on a log. In my excitement, I moved too quickly and the family left the log. I have the Canon 7D MKII and always forget that the exposure meter is awkwardly placed to the far right, out of view with a normal look through the viewfinder. So I had to lighten up the image. It takes some effort and a little time to see the exposure meter in this camera. I didn't even know it was there for the longest time. I did find a bird that looked like a wood duck but not exactly so I took a shot. I'm guessing it's a juvenile male because the markings match up with the male markings but the rest of the plumage colors are not there yet. It stumped me for quite a while. I can't even find a photo to match mine yet.
    • Karin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      ktkirchhoff
      Wood Duck F and Juveniles2-ed
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      rpesce1
      I found out that my area is a stop along the way during the winter spring migration of the sandhill. Each year in March the small town near the area holds a festival so getting to the wildlife area is a nightmare. So I went there days prior and there were only 2 photographers and 17,000 Sandhills.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      rpesce1
      Sand Hill Cranes (100 of 127)
    • Lucy
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Laspade
      DSC_4465eWhile hiking I suddenly heard some Titmice making quite a fuss and I heard the high pitched call of a hawk. When I stopped to look and listen I realized there were 3 juvenile Cooper's Hawks calling for the parent to bring in dinner. I didn't have my camera on me because it was a new park and I was unsure of how safe it would be to carry an expensive camera around. I ran back to my car and came back knowing that based on past experience the juvenile birds would most likely remain in the area. When I got back to the spot the calling had stopped but in a short amount of time I was able to spot two of them in a tree. I took up a spot and waited. Soon they started calling out and I knew a parent was probably in the area. I had hoped to get a pic of the parent but he/she flew in pretty fast and just dropped the meal on a large limb and flew off. The two juveniles flew over and the one in this photo was faster and ended up with the meal. In my experience I usually hear the birds before seeing them and I have become familiar with types of calls such as alarm, calling for a mate, and even alerting to a parent in the area. DSC_4486e
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Awesome photos. I had a similar experience with Red-shouldered Hawks. It is very thrilling to see them eat their prey so close by.Mine was eating a squirrel and he let me take photos and movie for about 20m minutes! I am glad you witness that scene and shared your photos.
      • Lucy
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        Laspade

        @Isabelle Yes - Always thrilling when you see a new species you haven't seen before or get to see them interacting or catching/eating prey. Thanks for your complement!

      • Fred
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        freddyd48
        Awesome capture! Excellent detail and slice of life detail of these magnificent birds.
      • Dika
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        dikang
        Beautiful images.  Your perseverance paid off.  Dika
      • Bill
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        billy7
        Beautiful pics.  I especially love the second one.  Nice job!
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      LauramcH
      I have loved Sandhill Cranes for their exotic appearance.  In the past I've driven to watch them in fields where they have been known to congregate in migration season, and I have also been thrilled to come across a few or large number of them unexpectedly.  They are one of the few birds I can identify by voice as they fly overhead.  I used to think they only passed through my midwest area to more northern summer grounds, but my research shows that they spend the summer here, too.  I have been seeing them more often.  I was taking a walk through a forest preserve I had not visited before, and I came upon two sandhill cranes in a field.  I was surprised how close they let me come, as they seemed oblivious to cars nearby and to me.  I didn't want to scare them, so I stayed about 50 away.  IMG_1156
    • Meyer
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Meyer Cohen
      I've always known that there have been some Black-crested Titmice that love to forage in my backyard. They tend to stick around almost all year, too. I occasionally spot one of the birds jumping around in this large oak tree nearby my patio. After doing some research on their behaviors, I discovered that these acrobatic little guys that will cling upside-down to find insects to eat. After hearing some chirps on a gray spring afternoon, I quietly set up outside and waited for the bird to come for me. I eventually caught sight of the titmouse, and sure enough, after some waiting, it started hanging upside down. I was even able to capture this photo!DSC_0693
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        He is sooo cute, love the photo. We have Oak Titmice here in California, they are very similar except that they are entirely grey.
      • Aidan
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        26keata

        @Isabelle here in NY, we have tufted titmice, look the same, but does not have the black cap. This picture looks great!

    • Phyllis
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      PhyGaiWei
      DSCN2538DSCN2535 I chose to look for the Rock Sparrow, Petronia petronia (a life-list bird for me).  This is a bird that is found in rocky habitats throughout the Mediterranean, but has a north-south movement throughout the year in Israel.  Since we were in lockdown when it was in my area in the Negev desert in the spring, I went to Mt Hermon (3000 m) where it is easily found in June and July. I used three resources: eBird, Oiseaux birds and Wikipedia.  As to the description, eBird records it as “odd-looking, chunky, sparrow-like bird”, whereas Oiseaux is “very similar to the female House Sparrow”.  In my unschooled opinion it just looks like a sparrow, not odd at all.  Further to its appearance, a yellow spot on the throat is rarely visible in the field (eBird) which, indeed, is not visible in my photographs. However (Oiseaux) record that both females and males prefer mates with bright yellow spots.  It does have a streaked breast, brown head and pale yellow eyebrows. All sources were in agreement with it being found in arid, rocky habitats with short grass and Oiseaux has it as a “typical Mediterranean species”.  It feeds on seeds and berries throughout the year and insects when feeding nestlings. They are reported to nest in crevices in rocks or walls; so, it was very odd when I saw it at the mouth of a pipe. At first I thought it just landed there; this pipe was about 12 cm in diameter, stuck in the ground and at about a meter in height bent at a 45º angle. Since there is no sexual dimorphism I didn’t know if it was a male or female bring insects to the nestlings.  It perched in the open and had an upright stance holding the insect in its mouth.  I moved away to allow it to freely fly to its nest in the pipe.
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Enjoy reading your research! Very interesting.
    • denise
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      dfantoni
      I had no idea that, when doing this type of research, my chances of getting better poses and pictures would increase more and more. I'm really excited to go to the field to train what we have learned, but unfortunately I have to wait until the weekend where we have a country house. The bird I chose is a very beautiful, interesting, and especially agitated hummingbird which fascinates me. I have been watching and listening to this bird for the past two years and, among all the hummingbirds that we have in our mountains, this is the species that most amuses me. It is very difficult to take a good picture of him while in movement, as he is especially fast when compared to others who live in our area.IMG_4335
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Hello Denise, I'm sure others here would love to what area you live in. I'm so glad to hear the tips are already helping.
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      awin213
      We have just passed the nesting season for hummingbirds in San Diego, but earlier this year I wanted to capture one of the many hummers that come to my feeders gathering nesting material.  Each year I provide kapok nesting material from a couple of locations.  This image was taken in my front yard with the afternoon sun not quite reaching into the area that is the background.  By keeping the exposure set on the bird, I was able to create the dark background I was after.  My camera, on tripod, was set up with some foliage for cover and I used a long lens to stay back, but feel up close.  This is a female Anna's Hummingbird. HummingbirdWithNestingMaterial
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Beautiful capture!
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        awin213

        @Isabelle thank you!

      • Fred
        Participant
        Chirps: 9
        freddyd48

        @Anne I'll second Isabelle's comments!

    • Gavin
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      GavinDrummond
      For my subject, I chose the Marsh Wren, knowing it would be tricky to see but enjoying the idea that it would be a fun challenge. So this morning, I got up (very) early and drove to Île Saint-Bernard, an island on the river southwest of where I live in Montreal, Canada. There's a wildlife refuge there with a large marsh, and I had heard Marsh Wrens singing there earlier this spring. And sure enough, there were at least a half dozen of them in full song in the bullrushes along the main path that leads across the centre of the marsh. Of course, just because you can hear them doesn't mean you can see them - let alone photograph them. But wrens (I've seen the same behaviour with House and Winter Wrens) are curious. And if you stand still, they will sometimes work their way towards you to check you out, furtively moving through the undergrowth, moving with sometimes surprising speed, then popping out unexpectedly before disappearing just as quickly. I had one encounter exactly like this, but the shots I got weren't great. Then, on the way back, I saw a wren fly up and literally burst into song in mid-air, his small body contorting so hard that he seemed to hover momentarily. Figuring this was the extravert I was looking for, I stepped just off the path and leaned into the high marsh grass. A minute or so later, out popped the wren agin, even being so kind as to adopt the classic pose, legs splayed like a miniature marsh yogi. After singing for about 30 seconds, he dropped back out of sight and I quietly moved on, happy that I did not appear to have disturbed hm. 1W9A1736
    • Kelly
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      kellysbirding
      Every Spring I wait for the return of the Baltimore Orioles.  They generally show up in Connecticut in early May.  This year there seemed to be an abundance of these birds in my local park.  While they generally hang out high in the canopy I discovered a nest on the edge of a field quite low in a tree.  After the young fledged I was lucky to come across the little ones while the parents were feeding them raspberries from the field.  In the past I have witnessed the adults aggressively protecting their young but this pair didn't seem to be bothered by my presence. After getting a few shots I left the family to enjoy their berry breakfasts.  Unfortunately the Orioles will soon be making their way back down south and I'll have to wait again until next May to hear them sing from the tree tops.   DSC01181DSC01175
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      CaroneMA
      I did my research on birds that visit my backyard. I usually do bird watching and taking photos at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, along the shores of Lake Erie. It has been difficult to take photos at Presque Isle recently. First the water levels at Lake Erie have risen significantly and caused many birds have left or gone deeper into the wooded areas to get away from flooded trails and increasing water levels. The other thing that is driving the birds deeper into the wooded areas, are the number of people coming to the Park to exercise, walk, and bike. The birds and other wildlife are slowly being pushed out of their regular habitats. This is the reason I decided to research my backyard birds. This has been interesting because I have been able to watch Parent birds bring their young into the yard to eat from my feeders and the many berries and other edible plants in the backyard. The research that I did helped me to identify what the parent birds were doing for their young. The young House Sparrow would flap it's wings and run up to the parent bird to get food and as they progressed the young bird started to eat the seed and other food on it's own. The other interesting thing I learned is how everything in my yard is used by the animals that inhabit my backyard. I have a Trumpet Vine and the rabbits that come into the yard eat the fallen petals from the Trumpet Vine. My pictures are not as clear as I would like because I took the pictures from my window rather than try to go outside and take pictures and disturb the House Sparrow Parent feeding it's young. I appreciate what I have learned in this lesson, and through my research, because I feel like I pay closer attention to the behaviors demonstrated by the birds and other animals, and with background research107272336_2874064839386199_3277404159622753992_o understand why the birds are demonstrating the behaviors I observe.
    • Marcia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      CaroneMA
      106744953_2874059592720057_8644446729099190644_o
    • Betty
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      bjthompson29
      So yesterday , I used e-bird to see what others were sighting at Quivira Wildlife Refuge, which I like to go to every couple of months. I still find the site a little over whelming but will continue to use it as a tool. I usually use my car as the blind, but I did try stabilizing the lens with my hand when extended and liked the feel of that. I am sharing 3 of my better photos from yesterday.   Eastern KingbirdD2B0A880-B95E-4275-B898-856F9EC95AA8   Mourning Dove0BCAA11C-4A13-42F9-A74C-F1DD348A1346   Red-winged blackbirdA302C719-FAC5-4710-9402-42D8F72CD83C
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lindacunico
      Since March, sheltering indoors with the corona virus, I have spent time observing Scaled Quail who live in the arid, undisturbed prairies which surround my home in southeastern Colorado.  April is the start of breeding season. My photo shows three very young quail just starting to venture a few yards away from their parents, baby steps to leaving the nest.  My favorite insight is that Scaled Quail are extremely protective & cautious parents, who will chase off any other birds who get near their chicks. The male acts as a guardian, constantly surveying the surrounding area for any potential predators, allowing his mate (for LIFE!) a chance to eat with their chicks in peace.   They eat seeds of trees, shrubs, sunflower seeds and "forbs"/non woody plants, like the Russian thistle weeds, otherwise known as tumbleweeds!_E8A2171_Advice From A Sunflower_
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Very cute! I observed the exact same behavior in California Quails.
      • Linda
        Participant
        Chirps: 15
        lindacunico

        @Isabelle Thanks for your interesting fact, & yes I think they are very cute too Isabelle!  It's amazing that the range of the Scaled Quail and is concentrated only in the southwest:  CO, AZ, western Kansas, western Texas, south to central Mexico.  They are the only quail who don't have black on their faces.

    • Jan
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Jan Y Allen
      Ridgway 1889 said, the Bewick's Wren "... explores the garden fence..." and that is where I see one or two of them everyday as I eat my lunch outside on my back patio. I regularly see them finding what look to be moths on my shaggy fence. The one photographed today seems to be a young bird, and it was peeping regularly back and forth with another of its species. Notice that there is an annoying and distracting yellow stick/line in the background -- something that Melissa warned us to look out for! With birds that rarely sit quietly, it's hard to avoid sticks. (As an aside, I would note that all the photos uploaded here seem rather "soft" as if the quality of the upload is not great. My photo looks quite sharp on my computer, but here seems a little blurry.)20200705-P7050036-Casa Contenta, Santa Fe, NM-Bewick's Wren
    • Kerri
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      kfalivene
      Our home is in a mixed woodland environment with some open areas, and a marshy pond area adjacent to it. It's the perfect habitat for the violet green swallow. Their preference of catching insects on the wing has certainly become a welcome activity for us (goodbye annoying flies, wasps and gnats!) and their aerial acrobatics are captivating. This is the second year we have been fortunate enough to have a family of violet green swallows nesting in one of our canned lights in the gable over our patio. The parents don't seem to be bothered by our presence and it has provided a great opportunity to observe their natural parenting behaviors. When getting ready to feed, a parent will circle, flying closer and closer to the nest each time, and softly chattering. The baby birds will respond louder and louder until the parent lands, feeds, and quickly flies off again. It's been difficult to catch the parent in focus but it's been a blast watching the babies grow! VGSW After Feed_2VGSW Mom + Baby_2DSC02936_2
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Oh wow! The violet- green swallows are such a gem! I’d love to have a nest in my backyard. Thanks for sharing this cuties.
      • Carole
        Participant
        Chirps: 39
        Carole Poustie
        Absolutely gorgeous!
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      CynthiaDI
      I decided to research red-winged blackbirds as I have been watching males harass  much larger birds chasing them away from the marsh by my house as well as dive bomb people as they walk down their boardwalks to the beach. As I researched, I learned that they like to build nests in grasses in or near fresh water marshes. This morning, I went out early and followed the a male until he went to a suspected nest in the marsh. I quickly spotted the female as she flew. I’m not quite steady yet to get great moving shots, but here are a few. The middle picture is my surprise picture. The male was sitting on the twig that is out of focus.  What I didn’t realize until I reviewed my photos was how he was able to take off like a rocket, in a completely vertical direction. B017EA9B-DADD-4A58-93DC-F305D43D7FE50E048C83-7E7B-4F69-ACB7-D125ECB3CB143B04D3D2-4971-42C8-A352-81FEF3DA113B
    • abbott
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      abbottchong
      Many species of birds here in Malaysia are with little research information. We do not know much about their habitat, food sources, nesting season or any distinctive behaviour. To identify them by sound is not easy because most of the time we could hear their callings but couldn't see the birds. There are quite a number of migratory species here, suspect a few have already become residents. There is worrying sign of diminishing bird species caused by reducing natural forest coverage and connectivity.  To conserve the remaining species  is a big challenge. But the challenges could become opportunities. I am going to confront this challenge by bringing greater public awareness of the many beautiful birds that live in our forest. The best way to do this is by photographing, capturing exiting moments of birds' interesting behaviour in the wild. Begun with the first bird of interest - Little Green Pigeon. DSC_1284
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Beautiful!
    • Brad
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Rose_Brad
      I decided to research and look for the Scissor Tailed Flycatcher which is a common summer migratory bird in my area. They can typically be found in open fields, lots or parks where some lone trees are near by for nesting. They can easily be spotted perched on feces line or electrical lines surveying their surrounding for food. Their diet consists of insects and they typically catch on the fly which can be so fun to watch. I was really looking for their in-flight acrobatic moves I did see these but was not able to get any good photos. I used e-Bird to determine a good location to go look at some had been spotted by the local lake. I was able to spot a male, female and 3 juveniles flying, perching and doing some aerial acrobatics. The photos are of the male landing on a perch down by the lake.20200704-_MG_301220200704-_MG_3009
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        What beautiful birds! Thanks for sharing the lovely photos.
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        I love photographing these birds and your photos are absolutely beautiful!           1
      • Dika
        Participant
        Chirps: 13
        dikang
        What stunning birds and excellent photos.
    • nicolette
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      nichristie
      I am so fortunate to live on a property which is home to many species of birds. There are owls, hawks, ospreys, warblers, and many, many others. One of my favorite subjects are herons, specifically, night herons, which I have the opportunity to see Hunting along the shoreline and Roosting in the trees. I’ve learned a lot over the years from just observing them but found the Cornell site and the Merlin app very helpful in learning about their mating, nesting and community habits. Thank you Melissa! I would love to hear from and see any photos from the rest of you taking the course. Here are shots of two black crowned night herons and a juvenile yellow crested night heron. The light was poor on the black crowns and the lens is lImited to 6.7 aperture here.F33F1880-9C15-40D2-B667-1E3AB1D25C0C7420B37C-BEDD-44D4-A9B2-576AD000BF98A776453E-6D8A-410E-8983-024DF7E221ED
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        LauramcH
        I enjoyed your photos of herons, as I also am fascinated by them.  A recent surprise for me has been to learn that there is a large rookery of black-crowned night herons not too far from where I live in urban Chicago.  I had seen a small number of them in past years near the Lincoln Park Zoo, but the number is quite large now -- possibly even a few hundred.  I have grown to appreciate the  diversity of birds and other wildlife in the city, which gives me a lot to observe right here without traveling too far.
    • Pamela
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      PBruns
      I live in St. Louis, Missouri. For the past 8 years, we have had a pair of breeding Mississippi Kites return to our neighborhood. They arrive like clockwork on May 8-11 and leave for South America August 29-31. This year, they have a sub adult kite with them. They court and mate in our old elm tree in the front yard and their juvenile offspring beg to be fed from same tree before they depart. This year I found one of their nests. They appear to making a second nest simultaneously that I have not located. I found all research on All About Birds. My photo of the couple in our tree features the male kite leaving the "frame" which is not technically a good photo technique but is certainly typical of trying to catch a photo of these dynamic birds. MIKIFlight1-6779 MIKIcouple2copy-
    • Melanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      happyme1917
      I discovered this Gray Catbird nest while the mother was still on her eggs and returned often for additional shots.  I really wanted a photo of her feeding her young (there are 3), but I became aware that while I was taking the photo of them crying out for food, the mother was actually on a lower branch watching me, clearly not coming back while in my presence.  I left immediately and this is the last picture I took.  I was pleased to hear Melissa's discussion of the Kingfisher nest because it solidified my gut feeling about moving away from this nest.DSC_1672
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Burtnerl
      Idaho Shakes July 3 2020-7 I found this adult Cooper's Hawk with a meal because one of two young ones was begging for food. I kept hearing this sound, looked up and here was this sight, with one young one looking on and the other making all this racket. I was looking for warblers! Ha!
    • karol
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      rosman
      While visiting my parents and brother in the foothills of A86D2916-4CF4-4A8E-AAF4-9F26F06EAF9ED0DA5C88-765B-4686-98FF-67D619476242B127DFBD-BFBE-4486-B657-22224A55ED0Brural central Montana I was fascinated by the family of Ravens. First I noticed the size. They were the size of a small child. Then their call. Frequent and loud with a gravely texture. At times annoying and other times endearing. As I choose them for a subject I witnessed their graceful flight patterns. They became distressed when I edged near their nest and I chose to not go any further. After a few days of rain they hunted and foraged close to our house. Worms seem to be a fine appetizer
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      dww2942
      I know a fair amount about our local birds, but there are always surprises. We have an Oriole feeder.  This Spring several Baltimore Orioles would stop by to eat oranges and grape jelly (see below)  No surprise there.  They were likely migrants as they eventually disappeared. To my surprise when we put out a Hummingbird feeder the year it also attracted Orioles, who could reach the nectar.  This should make it possible to get a picture, if I'm patient enough, since they seem to make the rounds of the neighborhood.DSCN2666
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        awin213
        Hooded Orioles visit my hummingbird feeders as well. In fact, they are so used to them, O stopped using the "Oriole" feeder.
    • Kevin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      kevinknudson
      DSC00950I see swallow-tailed kites regularly these days. In this shot, a juvenile kite sat on the branch in this loblolly pine in my back yard while its parents circled around and brought it food. This went on for more than an hour. I love to watch these birds soar over my neighborhood.
    • Lynsey
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Lynsey van Foreest
      I also spent some time watching a family of European barn swallows, observing how the young ones would start opening their mouths and calling before a parent came along to feed them, allowing me to get my camera at the ready. IMG_20200701_144309_129IMG_20200701_144641_201IMG_20200701_222006_352
      • Kevin
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        kevinknudson
        these are really great shots.
      • Lynsey
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        Lynsey van Foreest

        @Kevin Thanks, Kevin

      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        These are fantastic!
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Wonderful shots. Swallows are so hard to photograph in flight.
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        awin213
        nicely done.
    • Lynsey
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Lynsey van Foreest
      I live in the Netherlands so you might see some different birds from me. I listened to stonechat calls on the internet and tried to figure out the difference between the male and female calls. While doing so I found out why the bird is so called - because part of their call sounds like two stones being knocked together. I went to observe them at a local nature reserve as they are very vocal at the moment. They each had a similar pattern - the males at least - doing the same call, flitting to another spot, calling, then flitting to another spot and basically repeating the circuit. This helped me figure out where they might fly to next and how long they would stay there.IMG_20200701_221503_427IMG_20200702_114235_223IMG_20200702_222858_373
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        Nice shots and what a beautiful bird, thanks for sharing!
      • Jan
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        Jan Y Allen
        How interesting Lynsey, to read about the different calls and then see your great photos. Thanks!
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Beautiful. Enjoyed reading the your post about their call.
    • helen
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      neilhelenjoe
      • We researched a new place nearby from the previous lesson by looking at the Explore tab on EBird.  We also went out earlier than we we often would, again after the previous lessons!  We saw more birds due to doing an auto trail and using the car as the blind.  Can’t believe how much we’ve learnt already! Saw a number of birds we’d not seen before including the Dickcissel and Northern Bobwhite. D1C9DD3D-E684-4B7E-806D-AA950A2F9C4C6054948B-C661-4DC0-A46C-BE683D4D9736
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        Burtnerl
        Great shots. Bobolink is a goal for me. :-)
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        What an unusual birds. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos.
    • Fred
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      fred721
      I have been doing some bird photography close to home. Photos of the House Sparrow, American Robin, and Common Grackle were taken in my backyard. I enjoy watching the American Robins in my backyard hopping along the ground and listening for worms and larva that they pounce upon. House Sparrows are common and capturing the Grackle with a load of food in its beak was special._DSC1495_DSC1516_DSC1522
    • Mary Jo
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      mp2162
      DSCN0157 DSCN0187 The virus has supplied both my wife and I with lots of time to observe our neighborhood friends. As recommended we have spent hours just watching their parenting and feeding traits. Knowing in advance where their favorite haunts are allows for planning the images. Our Atlanta backyard offers a lot of options for viewing entire families.
    • Linda
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      wrightli
      Tricolored Heron 7.3.20 Found this Tricolored Heron at the junction of the marsh and beach on Tybee Island, Georgia.
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        Love Tybee Island, visited a couple of times when we lived in Tennessee. Miss both places. Nice lighting on the heron. Maybe you know this, but there is a state park, Skidaway Island State Park, a short drive from Tybee Island. They have a nice short walking loop with many birding opportunities and a great viewing window at the visitor center. The Painted Buntings migrate to this area and return South in the fall.  
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      kwilles
      This year Black-necked Stilts nested at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida in a marshy area along the main road to the Lighthouse that allowed for observations and photographs through a long lens or spotting scope.  I thought the chicks would look like little dark fur balls like Common Gallinule chicks.  Not so!  These little ones were so well-camouflaged that the only way to see them was to look for movement or, perhaps, see their reflection in the water.  I, also, was able to watch their parents defend them from other birds including a Tricolored Heron that was much larger than the stilts.  The stilts were fearless protectors of their young. 778A81E2-0FF4-4AD3-B716-A9B261F89D304D4DAC7E-706D-4AE2-90EF-F61CFAAECD6E
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        The little ones look so different from the parents. Lovely photos!
    • Diana
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      DianaQuick
      The silver lining of the COVID pandemic has been time to spend in our local cemetery (Green-Wood in Brooklyn, NY), which is an amazing spot for birdwatching. I’ve learned so much this spring, from observing the migration of many warblers, to a juvenile bald eagle who took up residence for a few weeks, to various herons, a family of six Canada goslings and their very vigilant parents, two broods of mallard ducklings that haven’t fared so well, a family of two baby red-tailed hawks, and many more. 3DE15604-405F-42B7-B566-4BFE0371EA5F738CF0D5-4364-401D-A32A-179274E4AEA0F5BA1306-1722-4B2E-B49C-5BFC6BE9828F
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Cemetery are actually an awesome place to observe birds. Another great place are public parks, birds are used to people walking around not minding them and I found that they are easier to approach than in wilder areas.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      hallmarkf
      DFE07534-998A-4A6D-B216-DE1DA339196CSince the pandemic began, I’ve taken almost daily walks through the woods and around a small lake near my home in Northern Virginia. One of the highlights has been the frequent sightings of an Osprey (sometimes two of them) that seems to have favorite perches in two trees there, one near each end of the lake. It does not seem to nest there, but visit s almost daily to feed. I have watched it fly from one perch to the other, dive down and grab a fish from the water and take it up to the perch for dining. I have also seen it battle crows intent on taking the fish from it or, at other times, on driving it from the tree. With a telephoto lens, I’ve been able to get some fairly good photos. In this one (my last of that session, and since then...) the facial expression, like that of Melissa’s Harrier, suggests I may have overstayed my welcome.
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Those birds are magnificent, I was lucky we had three in my local regional park and could observe the same behavior you describe. Nice photo!
    • Betty
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      bjthompson29
      American Goldfinch taken 6/23/2020 I love watching these birds at our feeder however these images were taken on a road trip thru Missouri. When driving thru we always visit the Columbia Bottoms Conservation area, just outside of St.Louis. The area is mostly wetlands or prairie like.  Goldfinches are a common backyard bird in Kansas where we live. They are a year round resident. They prefer open habitats as well as one's yard, and Columbia Bottoms is definitely open habiitat. They eat seeds and seem to arrive in flocks to the feeder, and are often joined by house Finches. In the photos they are eating the common roadside weed/wildflower. Chicory. They seem non aggresive and have gotten quite used to us when we sit outside. They have a high pithed sweet sound when at our feeder. They nest late in the summer, July to August, when more seeds are abundant and use the "downy seed heads " to pad their nest. The males are the vibrant yellow and black and the females or more dull olive green. I have noticed this week that more females have returned to the feeder.   0O4A69820O4A69840O4A6991
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        kwilles
        In Florida, the American Goldfinches take over our feeders in January & February.  They prefer thistle, but only “fresh” thistle!  If any has been kept from the previous year and put out for them, those goldfinches won’t touch it!  They only want the new good stuff!
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29

        @Karen Ours wouldn’t eat the thistle, which had never happened any place we have lived before, but love sunflower hearts & chips. I love watching them. We have quite a few but I have not seen any adults feeding any young.

    • Patsy
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Patsy_Watkins
      House Finches intrigue me because they seem to bring the whole family along to the feeder. In fact, I suspect the smaller birds joining in this morning are juveniles. They look like smaller versions of the females. The smaller "juveniles" preferred the platform feeder to the tube;  one female perched on the edge as though she was the lookout. Though I read a lot about these finches, it's not clear to me whether they pair up for nesting, or if one male has several girlfriends. When they come as a group to feed, there are always several females but only one or perhaps two males. I have a plan for photographing them tomorrow that I hope will give me better, closer shots. This old 200mm lens takes some special care.
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        I had a juvenile this morning at the feeder with its dad. While the male ate, the juvenile waited while flapping its wings and making lots of sounds, beak open begging for food - that is how I knew it was a juvenile. Having observed this behavior for a few days I was ready with my camera and took several shots of the dad feeding the juvenile. He ate until its beak was full of mushy seeds and then he transferred  it to the juvenile open beak. It did it in two or three exchanges. It was very interesting to watch. Hope you can witness a similar feeding tomorrow.
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        Would love to see your pics of them being fed.
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune

        @Betty DSCF3097 DSCF3112DSCF3092Hi Betsy. Here is a little sequence for you. The feeding lasted about 15 seconds and the dad gave a little bit of mushy seeds to the juvenile about 7 times. Looking closely at my photos and then doing more research it seems that he regurgitates in between.

    • Judy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      TziporimenNR
      I am in complete awe of the beauty of the blue jays that visit my bird feeder daily. Behind my backyard there is an area with tall trees and now I wonder if they have built their nest there. I am eager to go explore this area and try to find them and take pictures of them in the trees. A17CAC8F-3774-41EC-8C96-77F9AA3366AA9C608890-7797-4913-9DA9-FC165DF79DF563CACBCC-41E6-450B-8A77-68AEA8847D7F
    • Donald
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      bellii
      I have been intrigued by Bell's Vireo ever since I first heard it sing a few years ago.  Its song is not very musical at all, but rather a harsh, buzzy song often sung as a couplet.  It tends to be a secretive bird fond of scrub and shrubby habitats, often heard but not seen.  So, my goal has been to capture a really nice photo.  It typically arrives in our part of Indiana the end of April or early June and departs again for its wintering area in Mexico by mid-September.  Insects are its primary food source, particularly caterpillars, and like most vireos actively forages insects from the foliage. Fortunately for me a Bell's Vireo began nesting in the shrubby habitat adjacent to my property this year.  So, I have included a couple of photos to share.Bell's Vireo_01Bell's Vireo_02  
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        Your photos are quite lovely.
    • Carole
      Participant
      Chirps: 39
      Carole Poustie
      For a long time I have been trying to capture a great photograph of the Hooded Plover, which is an endangered species along the eastern coastline of Australia. There are a group of 7 that can often be found along a stretch of beach near to where I holiday. It is always a challenge to get close enough for a clear photo without encroaching on their 'personal space' and stressing them. It is hard to leave knowing you have a good photo but not a brilliant one because you made the decision not to get a little closer. The story Melissa shared about the kingfisher really resonated with me and reinforced my belief's about ethical photography. The bird's safety and protection must always be of the uppermost importance. DC04DA43-9B45-47D7-AAEF-8D14FD474AB4
      • Elizabeth
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        Burtnerl
        Still a great shot. Love seeing these birds from around the world
    • Riley
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      fanihi
      IMG_5016
      • Riley
        Participant
        Chirps: 2
        fanihi
        Hello from San Diego! Blown away – and a bit intimidated – by everyone's bird photos. ;) As a beginner I'm getting practice photographing birds that are more indifferent to human presence, like this House Sparrow. I'm also taking a lot of super blurry photos of other local favorites including hummingbirds, herons, and woodpeckers. Enjoying the course so far and looking forward to improving my craft. 📸
    • Isabelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 58
      oiseaulune
      DSCF7529 DSCF7531In California where I live, the California Scrub Jay is a popular bird. He is very noisy and easy to find. He has blue feathers that stand out. One day in May, I was on a trail and saw one, I followed him with my binoculars as it went down a little ravine and into a bush. I saw him fly back in my direction holding what looked like a pretty yellow flower in its beak.  I quickly took my camera and aimed it to the tree next to me where it landed thinking I might get some interesting shots if he stuck around. Usually, I see them holding acorns in their beaks,  so a yellow flower was unusual.  I was able to take several close-ups. It is only when I looked at my photos at home that I realized that the yellow flower was in fact a baby bird, its legs sticking out of the California Scrub Jay's beak. I did some research afterwards and realized that California Scrub Jays are omnivorous and can eat  insects, caterpillars, snakes... They can also follow parents to their nest and steal their babies. After this experience, I observed their behavior even more carefully, they don't only eat acorns as I first thought.
      • Judy
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        judydrew
        I've learned to watch for crows watching me look at a bird on a nest~ I once had a cardinal nest that I'd been watching and photographing from a distance get completely raided by crows, and I think they saw me with my lens focused there!
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune

        @Judy Wow! Crows are super smart. Jays are too. In this case,  I wasn't watching the nest he raided. But, your comment is a good reminder to watch where we are looking when crows are around. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kim
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      kimjacomo
      78C89ECB-DB41-4E69-8AFF-57F83DE9A1D2_1_105_cSince I moved to St. Augustine, FL I have these lovely birds frequent my backyard and have counted up to 20 in one visit!  Today there are 4 beautiful wild turkey girls that have been hanging out all morning.  ISO 800, 220mm, f/6.3, 1/400s.
    • Matthew
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      drmatthew.field
      Blackbird-1 I have been watching the breeding cycle of a pair of Eurasian Blackbirds in my garden in the U.K. Their first attempt in early spring failed due to predation of both chicks, by who knows what. The male started singing from our rooftop again, and then a week or so ago I noticed that he was frantically collecting food and sitting on our back fence before darting off behind my garden office. Each time he saw me he would could call loudly protesting my presence. I managed to get a few photos on a beautiful sunny afternoon, but due to his agitation I did not follow up trying to find his nest, as I felt a great deal of empathy for this hard working chap. You can see the wear and tear on his feathers in the photo. I am pleased to report they have successfully fledged two chicks that were still around yesterday, and still being fed by the male. I have not yet managed to photograph the fledglings. This is a common resident species, but I have derived a great deal of pleasure witnessing their success in my garden and I hope that by holding back on trying to find their nest I have contributed to their eventual succes.
      • Genevieve
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        VevaFotos
        Lovely shot. That blue grub/caterpillar really makes it pop.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      sewbird
      My parents have been lucky enough to have a pair of migratory prothonotary warblers nest on their back porch the last two years.  Prior to their first visit, we didn't really know anything about these birds, other than to expect to hear their distinctive call and flashes of yellow feathers in early spring.  Both birds are quite tolerant of our presence (flying back and forth from the nest even when we're in the yard or on the porch), so I've been able to observe them closely and learn a lot.  The nest is situated so I can do most of my watching from a window without disturbing them, but I venture outside occasionally to photograph them.  I did have an incident once with the male, similar to the kingfisher story that Melissa describes in her video, in which dad warbler arrived to the porch area with an insect to feed the nestlings, but saw me waiting with my camera and decided to fly away before delivering the food.  I thought I had placed myself far enough away so as not to bother him, and I was really disturbed at how my presence obviously impacted the bird's behavior in a potentially negative way, so I think I've become more reflective and aware of bird behavior in general since that moment.  I'm still pretty new to all of this and learning a lot!  Here are a few shots of our warbler family this spring: fullsizeoutput_45bfullsizeoutput_569fullsizeoutput_519
    • Genevieve
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      VevaFotos
      About a month ago (although what is time in the Covid era?) I had a pair of nesting Blue Jays in the maple in my front yard. I have a fierce kitty that I brought with me when I moved home from Guatemala and I was terrified that she'd ruin their family. Trying to keep her inside for the entire cycle until the babies fledged wasn't an option (she's got no qualms about walking into a room I'm in, getting my attention and then peeing on the nearest wall). So I researched ways I could keep her from the nest and ended up buying a roll of chicken wire and creating a baffle around the two branches that would allow her access to the nest. Then I climbed into the tree (it's a huge tree so I picked the branch farthest from the nest) with some snacks and drinks and settled in for a long wait. Papa Jay finally decided I wasn't a threat after about an hour and brought some food. I was a bit worried about the stress I was causing but they did nest in the middle of a bustling neighborhood so I hoped that by remaining relatively still and not trying to get any closer, I wasn't causing irreparable harm. I'm not sure the baby appreciated my efforts...IMG_2456IMG_2478IMG_2475
    • Krispen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Krispenhartung
      I am very intrigued by the Canyon Wren, and especially its song, which reminds me of a small toy engine running out of batteries. :-). The first time I saw and got a shot of one was along a rock cliff, but not by water.  I never spotted one again at this location. The research told me that in addition to rocky canyons, they are also likely to be near water.  Hence, this evening  I visited  a beautiful rocky canyon that starts at the top of a 100 foot cliff and descends to a river.  I observed many Canyon Wrens this time! I was able to sit down on a rock, stay still and quiet, and spot several of them.  The research also indicated that they will often disappear into the rocks and pop up again, so I remained patient. DA3E43E7-3155-48F8-BEDF-F0CFE46C402D63903916-9ED0-4C77-8E29-E043D7B9BCB4
      • Isabelle
        Participant
        Chirps: 58
        oiseaulune
        Your patience and research was rewarded. Beautiful shots of a striking bird.
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29
        Beautiful bird and capture. Do you mind sharing the area the photos were taken.
      • Lorna
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        scudly
        I love wrens, beautiful shots
      • Kelly
        Participant
        Chirps: 4
        kellysbirding
        Beautiful photos.  I love those spunky little wrens.  Such little birds with huge personalities.
      • Anne
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        awin213
        Canyon Wrens are a treat.  Nice photos.
      • Lucy
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        Laspade
        Great Pics! One of my favorite wrens.
    • Marleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      MATroy
      A pair of house wrens have taken up residence in a birdhouse located in my backyard.  I look forward to applying what was discussed in the modules in this section to learn more about them -  in preparation for photographing them.
    • Judith
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      prairie45
      Lark sparrow Northern California Being relatively new to the west coast I have been studying western sparrows. I found this lark sparrow just where I expected on the ground on the edges of a riparian area. 46DB9767-FB4E-4B97-ADFC-956F8BDC832F
      • Travis
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Tnbaird
        What a lovely sparrow! Thank you for sharing this with us :)
      • Ron
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        salmonro
        I went out to see if I might be able to photograph some Western Meadowlarks and came upon some Lark Sparrows a bit outside their expected region in East Central Idaho.DSCN0272 (2)DSCN0246 (2)
      • Betty
        Participant
        Chirps: 14
        bjthompson29

        @Ron

        • We moved to Wichita, Kansas a 1 1/2 years ago.  I never realized how many different birds there were until here. Since there are so many wide open spaces, birds perch on fences, wires, plants and I can observe and photograph. I never realized the many different sparrows that exist. I never heard of a Lark sparrow until this year.  I enjoyed seeing your photos, nicely done.BC5D5D43-6622-4438-90DA-EDA2F7AC379CD077650F-E052-42BF-A9D2-BDF7DE274E0D

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