A SERVICE OF THE OUTDOOR WIRE DIGITAL NETWORK
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2019
As we slip into summer, young birds begin showing up in our yards, neighborhoods, and favorite birding areas. Many nesting birds have succeeded in raising their nestlings to fledging. Many people think that when nestlings leave the nest they are on their own; but realistically, when young birds leave the nest, they are the most vulnerable of all. New fledglings are still under the care and protection of at least one adult during a post-fledging period that may last a couple days, a couple weeks, or several months.
Sometimes birding experiences lead to a much broader thought process that brings history, ecology, habitat availability, land use practices, conservation, and population dynamics together in an on-going conversation and environmental process. Case in point, ever-expanding Bald Eagle populations. During this century, Bald Eagles have steadily been expanding their nesting range from their traditional forest and lakes habitats and riverside woodland nesting areas onto the open plains and agricultural areas.
The Grand Opening of the new John James Audubon Center outside Philadelphia June 4th heralded interactive and family-friendly ways to explore the legacy of famed ornithologist John James Audubon and the conservation movement he inspired. It houses two galleries for art and conservation displays, permanent exhibits with multi-sensory experiences, and outdoor activities. The new Audubon Center showcases the beauty, variety, songs, and flight of birds.
At its April meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed the status of 19 species, including Hudsonian Godwits, and found that Hudsonian Godwits are “Threatened” and likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to the species’ population decline, which was recently described as a 44 percent population decline in a report by Dr. Marcel Gahbauer.
Canon Global provides an international perspective into birds, the cycle of life, and especially bird photography in their comprehensive Bird Branch Project. A wealth of information is provided in web pages within such headings as the Bird Photo Guide, Junior Photographers, a Photo Gallery of birds worldwide, and Bird Column. The most interesting segment for many birders may be: How to Photograph Wild Birds, which is divided into three levels, the Introductory, Advanced, and Practical courses, each of which is sectioned into valuable topics.
By the first of June, spring migration appeared to be almost complete, and I turned my attention back to the broader surrounding landscape, noting that the female Ferruginous Hawk appeared to be feeding what I imagined were small downy nestlings in her hilltop ground nest. Same for a couple Red-tailed Hawk nests I checked, although Swainson’s Hawks are still incubating. The large nestling Great Horned Owls began “branching;” leaving the nest, perching on surrounding branches or on a bend in the tree trunk.
The Vortex Diamondback 8x42 Binoculars offer quality optics at a budget friendly price in a lightweight package. Utilizing phase-corrected BaK-4 prisms, and fully multi-coated lenses, you see bright, sharp details in the birds you find. The textured grip, focus wheel, and diopter offer you a good sense of control using tried and true ergonomics, while the twist-out eye cups and 16mm eye relief add to your comfort while viewing. These versatile binoculars close focus to just 5 feet away, and they feature a field of view of 393 feet at 1000 yards, providing a great span for viewing subjects near and far.
Enjoy the show up-close when you install a Droll Yankees Window Hummingbird Feeder. This long-lasting, UV-stabilized polycarbonate window feeder mounts on the outside of any window you choose with suction cups. Hued in ruby red with a clear lavender-colored bottom to easily monitor the sugar-water nectar level, this three-port window feeder is easy to use and a joy to watch as it attracts hummingbirds so close. Use the Droll Yankees Lavender Ruby Sipper Window Hummingbird Feeder as a second hummingbird feeder, or as your first window to the world of feeding hummingbirds.
Don’t get caught birding in June rains without your Orvis Hatch Rain Jacket; for everyday use or just for special birding trips, this is the rain jacket to reach for on rainy days when hiking or manning a spotting scope. This lightweight, breathable, easy to pack, layered rain jacket provides protection from wind and rain with a DWR finish. Made of washable waterproof nylon with taped weather-proof zippers, the Orvis Hatch Rain Jacket keeps you dry and ready for any rainy day or sudden sprinkles. Orvis also offers a variety of other fashionable outdoor clothing and products for men and women.
Ideal for getting an extra-close image of exciting birds beyond the normal capability of your telephoto or zoom lens, a converter, sometimes called a teleconverter, magnifies your lens another 40 percent with a 1.4x converter, or it doubles the magnification of your lens with a 2x converter. Hence, it will turn your 300mm telephoto lens into an equivalency of a 420mm lens using a 1.4x converter, or a 600mm lens using a 2x converter.
Two First State Records were recorded last week, a first Tricolored Heron was photographed in northeast Montana, and a first Swainson’s Warbler was literally recorded in Vermont. The Swainson’s Warbler was not seen, and was only recorded singing – an auditory First State Record. Call it strange, but only one Hooded Oriole was sighted in Wisconsin before 2019; however, a Fourth State Record Hooded Oriole was observed last week in Green Bay, Wisconsin – the third Hooded Oriole reported in the state this spring! The western islands of Alaska continue to provide exciting rare sightings of Asian species, and spring’s rare bird parade continues across North America, so read on.
When you’re photographing a bird, even after you have taken the ultimate photo you were hoping for, keep your camera focused, and be ready for a different photo, an unusual photo, a dramatic photo, a surprising photo – maybe even a comical photo. Sometimes, when you least expect it, a bird will give you a look, or take a position, that can be the gem in a series of images, or a standalone favorite. Be ready for the unexpected; be prepared for the unusual.
This week I selected a few favorite photos to illustrate times when I’ve had the opportunity to record that special moment when the ultimate photo morphs into the unusual, the dramatic, the comical. You can’t plan for these opportunities, you just hang in there a couple extra minutes and see what happens next – and be ready.
There is not much I can offer in the way of technical options or methods. The photos are merely unexpected extensions of various photo sessions. I hope you find these photos interesting, and a bit inspiring. The unexpected is a big part of bird photography – good or bad – but the unusual is great fun to see and record.
Article and photographs by Paul Konrad
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