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Thread: Bird in the yard

  1. #1

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    Bird in the yard

    I've been trying to get some shots of this bird for a couple of weeks. I don't know the species: I'm hopeless with bird species. A female is sitting a nest on our front porch light, and the male spends most of his day on a tree branch watching. Very neat. But when I get within 15-20 yards, he leaves. Staying still for half an hour didn't help. And my longest lens (an old 75-300) isn't up to the challenge: the results weren't acceptable.

    So today I set up on the tripod about 5 yards away, and ran a long tether (with an active USB extension) into the kitchen. Then sat comfortably and watched on live view until he returned. Very lazy wildlife photography: of course, I'm not capturing any blue herons, either. The 100mm L-series lens certainly lives up to its billing in a portrait-style setup.

    I shifted positions between the first and second shots to have less brightness behind his head.

    C&C are greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Rick

    500D, 100mm 2/8L, f/8, 1/90, 580EX on a bracket about the camera for fill, manual 1/4.

    Bird in the yard

    f/5.6, 1/180, same lens and flash

    Bird in the yard

  2. #2
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Might be a Northern Mockingbird.Nice shots!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Two nice shots Rick, I'd be pleased with them (you'll see why below).



    If I were to be nit picky, they look perhaps a touch noisy?
    and is #2 about half a stop over exposed on the chest? (unlucky angle with light chest compared to #1, which is fine)

    But those are final 1% criticisms, the shots are 99% excellent and as I say, I'd be pleased to have taken them myself.

    Anyway, here's my poor attempt, just natural backlighting from sun.
    Bird in the yard
    Nikon D5000 with 70-300mm handheld peering around kitchen doorway.
    1/500s f/5.6 at 260mm, iso800.

    Cheers,

  4. #4

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Thanks, Jim, and thanks for the suggestion: I've seen the female on the nest, and I'll check a guide.

    Dave, I think you're right about the noise: these are at just about 100% pixels (which says good things about the lens). 5 yards was about as close as I could get, and still keep a reasonable angle, i.e., not be looking up too much from below. So it was only filling about 10-20% of the frame. I may try running NeatImage, just to see what it does.

    On the bright chest of the second, there are actually only a few pixels at 255,255,255. But you're right about the effect: the white chest just jumps out at you, and I should have dialed back the flash some. I had the flash attached with an off-camera cord, so I can use TTL. I should probably do that, because then I can use FEC remotely, whereas I can't control manual flash remotely, AFAIK.

    I love your shot: the feeder provides nice context, and the closer bird looks very dynamic. Looks as if he's about to spread his wings and launch.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  5. #5

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Everything I could find in bird guides seemed pretty good for Northern Mockingbird. None of the similar-looking birds they referenced seemed to fit, so I think your guess was pretty good, Jim. None of them mentioned a difference between male and female, but the difference is small. Here's the only shot I have of the female: I don't like to disturb her too much. You can see that she doesn't have the little marks in front of the eyes that the male has, but there isn't a dramatic difference in coloring.

    Cheers,
    Rick

    Bird in the yard

  6. #6
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Rick,

    Here's a clip of the Mockingbird song.maybe it will help with ID.
    http://www.birdjam.com/birdsong.php?...d3c1iokc5b8ac0

  7. #7

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Thanks, Jim.

    I should have thought to listen. We've certainly heard those calls out front. What surprises me a little is that I haven't heard the harsh sounds when I disturb the male, only the sweeter ones. Of course, I know the harsh sounds don't necessarily correspond to them being agitated, but squirrels sure sound mad when they get disturbed. That squawking they do leaves no doubt of their frame of mind.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Hi Rick,

    Quote Originally Posted by rick55 View Post
    ~ Dave, I think you're right about the noise: these are at just about 100% pixels (which says good things about the lens). 5 yards was about as close as I could get, and still keep a reasonable angle, i.e., not be looking up too much from below. So it was only filling about 10-20% of the frame. I may try running NeatImage, just to see what it does.
    I feel better (in a way) already - I thought it was just me that normally posted 100% crops because the little birds were too far away
    However, you're right about your lens, I don't think I'd get that much fine detail at 100%.

    I'm sure Neat Image will help, just don't overdo it.

    Quote Originally Posted by rick55 View Post
    I love your shot: the feeder provides nice context, and the closer bird looks very dynamic. Looks as if he's about to spread his wings and launch.
    Thanks - you spotted the AF got the nearer chick but the DoF was so narrow at f5.6 that the second, about 1.5 inches behind is quite soft. He/she did indeed jump off shortly after.

    As you can also see from EXIF, I didn't need the full 300mm for these; I had slowly moved the feeder closer to the door over several weeks to get them bigger in frame, which allowed the downsizing, and a little Neat Image, to take care of the 800iso noise. The white blobs, almost bokeh-like are out of focus, backlit seed chaff kicked up by the 2 or 3 dozen birds using the feeder at the busiest times. These two had recently fledged their nest and several parents were feeding them and (noisily) warning off other families while educating, by example, their own brood on how to feed themselves. I'll PP a series and start a thread on that soon.

    Cheers,

  9. #9

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Hi Guys: I'm listing this guy as an Acadian Flycatcher- a fairly rare fellow in my part of the woods. I would have guessed yours as the same or an eastern wood pewee. Not only do you have to find them, shoot them, but then you have to id them.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Quote Originally Posted by Philjam10 View Post
    Not only do you have to find them, shoot them, but then you have to id them.
    So if I post a landscape, I have to figure out what kind of rock it is, and where the folds and slips are? I don't think so.

    But I sent it to the expert panel at Birdzilla: they're certain it's a flycatcher, and they think it's an Eastern Phoebe. Listening to the song on Birdzilla, I don't think I've heard it around the house, but maybe they don't sing very often.

    Birdzilla is a great site: unfortunately, it's North American birds only. They have a "Name that bird" section (under "Bird Identification"), where you can submit a photo for identification by their panel.

    Cheers;
    Rick

  11. #11

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Very nice shots rick, especially the second one.

  12. #12

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    Re: Bird in the yard

    Hi Rick: Think your logic on rocks is a leap. Eastern Wood-Peewee is a fly catcher. Eastern Phoebe lacks the wing bars and Accidental Say's Phoebe has a pale rusty belly. Peewee also has a distinctive cry most normally in A.M. and P.M. Regards.

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