Birding exposes me to more than birds, like this 2-3 week old baby elk, initially through dense foliage. As he moved into the open, I saw his mom and another young elk, part of a small herd crossing a hillside. It was just as exciting as seeing a bird.
Male Western Tanager
As I walked through a western forest of mixed conifers and aspens I heard the piercing call of the Western Tanager. It didn't take long to find him proclaiming his territory. He seemed content to stay on his perch, but kept a watchful eye on me as I passed by.
Female Red-breasted Nuthatch
This Red-breasted Nuthatch landed near a bird I was trying to photograph. It was a welcome interruption as I rarely see this nuthatch in Tennessee. Unfortunately, she was gone as quickly as she arrived. This shot is the best of the three I got before she disappeared.
This is a closeup of the cute Red-tailed Chipmunk as he worked his way to the end of a branch to sniff some sort of white lichen. This photo belies how fast they are and how difficult they are to photograph when they're on the move.
I went birding near a river and discovered a Northern Waterthrush calling loudly, but he initially ducked into dense foliage. I had to wait a while for him to come back out. I got this shot as he puffed out his chest, warming up to start singing again.
Immature Male American Redstart
A lot is going on with birds this time of year. This immature male American Redstart is changing into his more striking adult plumage. Youngsters like this are often less timid and more curious than their parents. This one spent a full minute checking me out before leaving.
When I stopped at a rest area along the highway, I noticed this Western Kingbird flying out from the top of a small tree to catch insects in true flycatcher style. I worked my way around to where the light was better and got this shot before heading on down the road.
I seem to struggle with the Cedar Waxwing. I see very few, and while they are beautiful birds, their feathers are tiny and compact. It has been challenging to get any feather detail, so one of my goals is to get even closer next time.
If you want to hear a bird with a lovely call sing incessantly, you can't do much better than a House Sparrow. I realized two things with this one, he had a nest at the top of this tree, and he intended to spend the rest of the summer proclaiming his accomplishment.
I was intrigued when my wife described a bird I knew was an American Dipper, another first for me. After 1.5 hours the next morning, I had only seen it fly by, too fast for me. After 1.5 hours the following day, I finally got this shot, so I call it my 3-hour Dipper.
Female Common Yellowthroat
After sitting for about an hour late in the day watching sparrows flit through the underbrush, this female Common Yellowthroat hoped into view. I never did see the male but was taken by how she seemed to collect the warm sunlight and reflect it back.
Male American Goldfinch
I watched this male American Goldfinch fly around a little garden and occasionally land on this perch. I slowly moved around the perimeter, stopping along the way. It took a while, but at one stop, he eventually returned, and I got this shot.
This Townsend's Solitaire was another first for me, but its bright white eyering and buff wing touches are about its only distinctions. I struggled to capture it in anything but a matching gray background, but it was not to be. Always alone, it also lived up to its name.
To continue the story of new life, this male Yellow Warbler had a mouth full of treats for his chicks but was still looking for more. I love how birds can continue to catch insects and caterpillars for their family when they already have a beak full.
Yellow Warbler Nest
I've recently spent time with Yellow Warblers and will soon share a close-up of an adult. However, I wanted to show a more distant shot of these industrious nest builders and attentive parents. They were undisturbed by me, and I eventually counted 4 chicks.
Say's Phoebe is another favorite bird from the western deserts. His warm colors blend with the special light and shades of the terrain, and yet it stands out in its own way. I positioned myself between his favorite perches and waited for him to take flight.
This is my current nemesis, the Cassin's Finch. This is the female, which I have identified in several locations in southwest Montana. While she is lovely in her own right, I have yet to see the male anywhere. Are there no males? Are they late to arrive? I have no idea.
As a nature photographer, I'm constantly looking for good light, colorful subjects, completely natural settings, and interesting poses. Sometimes I find one without the other three. If I can get at least two I'll take it as in this photo of a Chipping Sparrow.
The Canyon Towhee is a bird of the US southwest and Mexico. Its warm colors and friendly disposition grew on me as I spent many hours with this bird. Before it hopped up on this branch, this one had been peacefully foraging on the ground just a few feet from me.
This beautiful Lesser Goldfinch demonstrates two of my pet peeves. 1st, what makes it "lesser" and how did it get its name? If you know, please share a link. 2nd, why do birds seem to prefer to perch on a manmade object when there's a lovely natural perch just a foot or two away?
One of the strategies for photographing a bird in flight is to watch a perched bird and look for the telltale signs that it's about to take flight. That's what I did in this case but had no idea it would take 38 minutes for him to decide to lift off.
I visited a park and one of the first birds I noticed was this Blue Jay. He seemed to be used to people, watching closely to see if I had anything to eat. Unfortunately, I didn't. I took this photo as he leaned in one last time before giving up on me and flying away.
I know some of you like flowers as much as I do, and I run across them when looking for birds. I'm particularly taken with tiny woodland flowers such as this Pink Woodsorrel. They can be an absolute pain to photograph, but I can occasionally capture one along the way.
I was intrigued by the Black-billed Magpie from the first time I saw one. It was large and loud, but beautiful too. I loved the irridescent blue that only showed if the light was right and the unreasonably long tail that never seemed to get in the way.
The Greater Roadrunner usually stands out with nothing to detract from its sleek form. In the early spring, I've noticed it slink through the plentiful ground cover gleaning insects more slowly and using the natural camouflage for hunting bigger prey.
Male Mountain Bluebird
This male Mountain Bluebird was both a first for me and a surprise. I was moving along a series of evergreens that bordered an open area when he flew into a nearby tree. I may have inadvertently invaded his territory as he flitted between branches until I moved past.
I've spent as much time trying to find this Warbling Vireo as I have the most colorful warbler. Their song is distinctive and they are slower than many birds which should make them easy to find, but it has been just the opposite for me, perhaps because they prefer the treetops. I found this one near the top of a tree, but luckily it was a small tree.
Harris' Antelope Squirrel
The Sonoran Desert is home to an array of species. I had seen a variety of birds and was waiting for the next one to appear when this cute little Harris's Antelope Squirrel came scampering along the rocks. I love all the other parts of nature I get to see while birding.
I was sitting in deep shade with the sun beginning to set, but there was plenty of soft cool light when this Tufted Titmouse landed in a bit of a thicket not far away. Initially, I sat still, then slowly raised my camera into position just as he began his evening song.
Female Northern Cardinal
It surprised me how quietly this female Northern Cardinal landed in a thicket of pointy brambles. If not for the motion, I wouldn't even have noticed her. It makes me wonder how many birds I miss because I'm not looking or miss subtle movements.
Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker
This male Northern Flicker was digging up ants and beetles on the ground when he flew to this branch. He didn't seem to mind me, so I'm not sure why he flew up, but I was grateful as I couldn't have gotten as good a shot of him on the ground as I did in this tree.
Black and White Warbler
This Black-and-white Warbler proved just how fast their longer hind claw and sturdier legs make them. He climbed up and down trees, circling branches like a nuthatch, fun to watch but difficult to follow with the camera. I got this shot as he paused between trees.
I remember the summer I discovered the Dickcissel with its distinct song, colors, and markings. This grassland bunting is a bit of a wanderer and may not appear in the same location each year. I haven't seen one since and wonder if anyone here observes this bird often.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is still my granddaughter's (4) favorite bird. On a recent walk with her Nana, she proudly pointed out two Red-headed Woodpeckers, explaining that "Granddaddy taught me." Something tells me it's going to be my favorite bird too.
The striking Rufous-crowned Sparrow usually calls from a high perch; this one was calling on the ground. I was fortunate to catch it foraging in the open as it prefers to stay under cover of brush. This bird doesn't migrate, so you have to go where it lives.
Male American Kestrel
I was driving back from a birding outing when I saw this male American Kestrel across the other lane. There was no other traffic, so I slowed to a stop and opened my window. With my camera ready, I leaned out the window a bit and got this shot.
Male Downy Woodpecker
I was returning from a morning walk through an open field that narrowed to the path out. I had heard some kind of woodpecker calling in the woods. Just as I reached the trees, this little male Downy Woodpecker landed nearby. I barely got this shot before he disappeared again.
I had just finished photographing another bird when this Ash-throated Flycatcher appeared in the distance. It was so far away I rarely even take the shot, but I knew it was a new bird for me, so I clicked away and was able to salvage this.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
I watched this female Ruby-throated Hummingbird fly to flowers and a feeder in a garden. She often returned to an area which had a lot of plants. This was the best shot I could get because she always faced towards the plants, thwarting any chance of getting a frontal shot.
Abert's Towhee lives year-round almost exclusively in Arizona. Similar to California and Canyon Towhees, it's distinguished by the black patch around its beak. I had been sitting for about an hour when it came out and started turning over ground litter looking for insects.
Male Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatchers will often rotate between a small number of trees, so when I saw this male in the distance, I waited patiently to discover his route. While he was away from his preferred perch, I positioned myself within camera range and got this shot when he returned.
Male American Redstart
West TN is just within the breeding area of the American Redstart, so I was excited to see this male flashing his wings and tail to startle up insects. Thankfully, it's easy to spot this warbler when it's bright orange and black feathers are quickly flicking.
Male Red-winged Blackbird
Every time I walk along a river I listen for the Red-winged Blackbird. Once you learn its call, listening is a surer way to find one than looking. That's how I found this male, and no wonder he was singing so proudly, his mate was nearby.
Female Blue Grosbeak
I continue to search for the male Blue Grosbeak, but this beautiful little lady is the female. Her presence gives me hope her counterpart is nearby. She was patient with me, perhaps sensing my eagerness and wanting to give me a break since I haven't seen one in years.
The Gray Catbird is the epitome of dapper, looking so formal with its tasteful yet straightforward gray body, highlighted with a stylish dark crown and dashing with its cinnamon undertail coverts. And still, it's a shy bird that comes out of the dense shrubs reluctantly.
This Common Ground-Dove is the size of a Sparrow and can quickly disappear in the grass. That can make them challenging to photograph, so I was excited to see this one hop up on a wooden plank well within camera range. I zoomed in for a closeup to show off its camouflage colors.