Friday, January 21, 2011

In My Mind, I've Gone to the Suet Feeder

We set out suet for the woodpeckers and nuthatches, and in the relatively short time it’s been out, I’ve seen White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers visit it.

Another frequent visitor to the feeder is a pair of Carolina Wrens. Perhaps I’d written off sightings of these wrens in the past as sightings of House Wrens, since they’re fairly similar—though impossible to mistake once you know the difference—but when they kept coming to the feeder, I realized they were something new to me, so I IDed them and then staked them out with the tripod and a telephoto.

It took about 1/2 hour standing absolutely still, freezing, and 75 exposures as the sun came and went and the feeder slowly rotated in the shadow of the cedar tree, but I finally got a good one.

My telephoto is only a 75x300, so if I want to take a picture of small birds, I need to get fairly close and then wait, absolutely still, until they come back. Thus, it’s easier to get pictures of less skittish, more feeder-oriented birds like Finches. The Carolina Wren was quite a challenge, since he would hide in the bushes whenever I came outside, so I had to set up the telephoto and wait him out.

The Flicker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker have proven impossible so far. The Red-bellied doesn’t just hide nearby; he flies off through the trees entirely if I open a door.

I like this picture because it seems a bit like an advertisement for the feeder. Just set out thistle, and as soon as one Goldfinch finds it, you’ll have a couple of dozen visiting your yard regularly. And while they’ll fly up into the trees if you move too much, they’ll come back fairly quickly once you stand still again.

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