This Is For The Birds

This Is For The Birds

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Granted, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo made my day on the first of July, 2012, but there were a few more of my feathered friends who were there as well. There was a Blue Jay who basically demanded that I take his picture. My favorite goose in the whole wide world was there. There was a pain-in-the-neck male Orchard Oriole who kept me looking almost straight up for roughly ten minutes as he sang his little song from the tops of the highest trees. His wife was there, and she, too, was a pain in the neck. I really did have to look straight up to get her, although she did grant me a face-to-face visit along with a rather forward display of her backside. :) There were also a couple curious young Eastern Bluebirds who didn't seem bothered at all by my presence nor by my focus beam, and there was a Gray Catbird who seemed a quite taken aback by the fact that I had even laid eyes on it.

My top five quality photos:

In time line order, here are the twelve runners up:


Saturday, August 11, 2012


On the morning of July 1st, 2012, I, again, went birding at Long Run Park, and almost immediately got graced with a special gift from Mother Nature. Prior to this day, I had gotten only two images of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo: the most exotic bird I have ever seen roaming freely in the United States of America.

That would be these two immediately below.

These rather bad, but quite precious, images were captured at Long Run Park on July 10th, 2011, and I had been hoping to get better ones ever since. After going almost a year without seeing another one, I had gradually succumbed to the mindset that I would probably never ever see another one again; but, lo and behold, on July 1st, 2012, at 8:23AM, I saw a familiar silhouette. Suspicious, hopeful, optimistic, but not sure, I took a shot, although the sun was shining from the bird's other side.

This heavily edited photograph could have been it—another somewhat lost chance, another good bad photo, another good bad memory—but this was not it. At 8:28AM (five minutes later), after I had been a bit distracted by a Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, after I had maneuvered myself into a position whereby I had put myself somewhat closer to being between the sun and where I had seen the silhouette, I got a clear view, a positive ID, and another shot..; ...and another, and another, and another. For approximately eight minutes, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo stayed high up in a tree, moving about within a small, limited area while melodically clicking away, sounding much like a Summer Tanager, while obviously refusing to give away, clearly refusing to reveal to me the delivery destination of that freshly caught, nutritious looking, leaf looking bug.

In the bird part of my brain, I knew I was keeping it from approaching its young, who I figured was located somewhere low to the ground and between me and it. (The bird was maybe sixty feet up, and I was at least fifty feet from the base of the tree.) Further, my instincts told me that my stalling subject was a female, because it has been my experience that males tend to be less cautious—while females tend to be tremendously cautious—about revealing the whereabouts of their nests and their young ones when feeding.

Be that as it may, however, at 8:31AM—three minutes into the shoot—I got, what I think, is my best quality shot of her.

I could be wrong, but I don't think so..: ...referring to the her part.

What follows are what I judge to be my next four best quality photographs of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo of 120701.

As far as zooming in and real close-ups go, I think the above capture was my best one.

I really like the above photograph because I managed to get her eye color and pupil.

In the above photograph, I didn't get her pretty eye, nor even her beautiful face, but I did get the bug's eye, and the entire image is perfectly focused. If one clicks on either the picture or the link, one can even see the fine threads of a spider's web in the upper third of the scene. I think that says a lot about the Canon SX40HS when considering that the bird was about sixty feet up and I was about fifty feet from the base of the tree.

For me, concerning the quality of the above photograph, the picture could have been a little sharper for my complete satisfaction, and especially so about the head and face. Insomuch as I was dealing with a sun and shade contrast, not to mention a moving subject, however, I nonetheless deem the picture quality to be pretty good. Moreover, the striking pose, that was captured in the exposure, is utterly, totally, absolutely priceless. Whenever examining this photograph, as I have done many times, over and over and again , three adjectives and a stubborn, unverifiable conviction immediately and consistently comes to my mind. Elegant, sleek, graceful, are the adjectives, and a female is the stubborn, unverifiable conviction.

Okay, enough with the mushy stuff. What follows are eight more photographs of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that I think are presentable.

Note the spider web.

Again, note the spider web.

Thank you, Mother Nature.