Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mountain Chickadee: Wintering Close to Home


The little mountain chickadee is often a photographic subject for me in winter. This one posed for a portrait view behind a rail covered with snow. Then, it perched on the feeder hook as the little nutchatches often do. The mountain chickadees seems comfortable with me and the camera as near as about 8 ft. Any closer and I send them flying into the nearby trees. Both of these images were captured with a 100 to 400 lens from about 10 feet.

I'm not really a birder, I just like the challenge of photographing them. I have to keep the field guides to birds at hand to look up any unfamiliar species. I also search for information about my feathered subjects online. In a recent search, I learned that the mountain chickadee stays only a short time near the nest where it hatched. It then moves to a new location and spends the rest of it's life there. No migrating away from winter weather for these little birds. No wonder they seem so appreciative of the seeds I put out for them.

8 comments:

Howard Grill said...

Really nice shots. I especially like the first one. Did you use a flash to get the catch-lights in the bird's eyes?

Wren said...

Howard took the words right out of my mouth (or computer, in this case). Very nice. The top one is especially sharp and you get a sense of how close you were.

You may not be a birder but you're clearly a bird-watcher and bird-lover. Cheers!

Con Daily said...

Thanks Howard, The light in the eye is sunlight. Most of my outdoor shots are sans flash. For birds, I try to set up early in the mornings on the east side of where the birds will be to get the early rays lighting up their bodies well without shadows. I'm exploring lighting options, though, for this year's hummingbird season, a few months away.

Wren, I'm sometimes surprized at the favorites people name. The bottom image is my fav, even though not as detail sharp. Thanks!

Howard Grill said...

Con, great planning in terms of the direction of light. I could have sworn that you had used a flash to get the catch-lights in the eyes.

I, too, am amazed at how often people pick, as their favorites of mine, images that I would not have picked myself....I even wrote a blog post about that some weeks ago.

Just curious..how close are you getting to the birds to get them this size in the frame with a 100-400?

Howard Grill said...

Whoops...just saw that the answer to my question about distance in your post...10 feet. That is pretty good to be able to get that close without scaring them off.

Con Daily said...

Yes, it's about 10 ft., but that's not walking up on them, it's standing or sitting still and ready waiting for them to come near the feeders. I know some people who say the birds will sit on a finger and are quite friendly. The ones I photograph seem much more shy, though they sometimes fly near to me when I fill the feeders with seed.

Mark said...

We don't have these near me, only the black-capped chickadees - so it is pretty cool to see a different variety. Nice shots - I imagine they are as fast moving as the kind we have and getting these shots is no small feat.

Con Daily said...

Thank you, Mark. I've never seen a black capped here. Yes, they do move fast, but I like to photograph hummingbirds hovering, so chickadees are winter practice.