Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Often simply written as "W/NW" - your favorite photos. Explain them, or let your photos (film or digital) speak for themselves.
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PFMcFarland
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Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by PFMcFarland »

After many months of recovery from my cancer treatments I finally worked up the gumption to go down the hill and photograph the red-winged blackbirds that have been visiting our retention pond for what is now the third year in a row. Coming back up was when I realized the emphysema isn't going to get any better.

So, the thing about the red-wings is in our area they are migratory, usually arriving in mid to late April and leaving after August. You get out of the mountains and down in the flats of the Piedmont and they hang around all year. The shoulder patches on the males indicate who becomes the holder of the territory as the one with the largest and brightest patches tend to be the most successful in defending their territory and keeping their harem of females together. It has nothing to do with attracting a mate as the females will couple with any other male from outside the territory that the head of the harem has assembled. They raise two-to-three broods of three-to-four every year, and cattails are one of their favorite places to build the nests, making a new one for each brood.

Besides territorial and harem duties, the males also protect the nesting area from predators, so you don't want to get too close when photographing them. A long lens helps in that respect, plus some judicial cropping in post. I only got buzzed a couple of times, but even then, they turned away before getting within ten feet of me. It was somewhat breezy, so I had to bang off a lot of photos to get the images I wanted to keep (14 out of 64). Mostly misses on focus, or the birds would take off before I could press the shutter button, or the branch they were sitting on was swaying too much and another branch would get in the way.

Nikon Z50
DX Nikkor 50-250mm 1:4.5-6.3 VR

Image
His Majesty by P F McFarland, on Flickr

Image
Momma With Dinner by P F McFarland, on Flickr

Image
Photo-Bombed! by P F McFarland, on Flickr

See all ten photos on Flickr at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBsNxf

PF


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Brazile
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by Brazile »

A valiant effort, all things considered! Those are photogenic little creatures, and I think you did well to get as many keepers as you did under the circumstances...

Glad you're feeling more like getting out and about, sorry the emphysema is acting as a drag, though.

Robert
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by Julio1fer »

It is very hard to get these photos; the beautiful little birds do not cooperate much. I have tried sometimes to get similar images without success. Either the bird moves out of focus, or it gets behind a branch! It quickly becomes frustrating.

Glad to hear that you are doing better, hope it keeps improving!
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PFMcFarland
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by PFMcFarland »

Thanks, Robert and Julio. Mostly I have also been dealing with not being in the mindset of being a photographer like I used to be. There have been plenty of times where I passed up an opportunity because I wasn't feeling up to it or thought I wouldn't be able to spend the time away from the apartment. Other activities have shown me that I don't have to worry so much about that for now. Like the day I showed up at the N&W Railway Historical Society yard and found myself crane rigging for most of the day, something I haven't done in thirty years. It wore me out, but it was a good feeling overall.

Bird photography always is a hit-or-miss proposition as they are busy keeping their chicks fed and looking out for predators. Digital cameras help in that you can get a lot of images to select from without worrying so much about filling up the SD card, unlike back in the good old days when you only had 36 chances to get it right. A long lens helps with putting more distance between you and the subject, so they don't act as skittish with you being around. I would have taken more images if I had put the shutter on continuous, but I don't like to have to sort through that many frames. And I also would have done better if I'd brought the monopod with me like I had planned. Guess I fried another neuron that afternoon.

PF
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by P C Headland »

Good to hear you are on the mend.
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by PFMcFarland »

Thanks, Paul. I just keep plugging along.

PF
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by Santiago Montenegro »

Glad you're feeling better, PFM. Keep that chin up!

Life-changing situations are hard on photography. I've almost stopped taking pictures since my divorce. Try as I might, I can't find the enthusiasm that I had had since childhood.
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by melek »

I now have a newfound respect for anyone who does bird photography. That requires so much patience and timing. So, great stuff here.

I recall seeing the first red-winged blackbird decades ago and how excited I was to finally see one.
-Mike Elek
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by PFMcFarland »

True, Santiago. Though on my part mentally I wanted to do some photography, for a while there the physicality of it was out of reach, so I got out of the habit. Some of my new activities I've taken up have used time I might have been out with a camera. It's more a matter of getting back into the swing of things where I'm more concerned with capturing images of what I see instead of just making mental memories of new endeavors.

I've always liked taking bird photos, Mike. It's just that lots of times I don't have the proper equipment with me, such as an extra-long lens. Shooting with a digital camera also takes out the frame counting anxiety that comes with using film, plus the added benefit of larger megapixel sensors for using crop-zoom to eliminate cluttered fore-and-backgrounds while keeping enough subject detail in the final image. As for red-winged blackbirds, it's a memory of growing up in Indiana and seeing them perched on fenceposts while riding or driving down a county road.

PF

ps: BTW, nice video on the Argus C-3. I've got about a dozen of them, mostly "gifted" to me by folks who didn't know what to do with them.
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Re: Red-Winged Blackbirds In Focus

Post by Bennybee »

Glad you are feeling better, PF. I never heard of these birds, but I like your results here.
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