Occasionally, I do startle a bird. It's always unintentional, but so many things can do it, camera movement, etc. I think that happened with this Hermit Thrush. It was foraging on the ground and suddenly jumped up on this low branch, but not flying away.
I saw this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in early fall foliage, but he preferred to be on the opposite side of the tree. After a couple of steps, I realized trying to keep up with him wouldn't work, so I just waited. He eventually came back into view again a little further up.
The Rock Wren is a western bird I enjoy watching and photographing. It has several characteristics of other wrens so you can tell pretty quickly that it's a wren. I caught this one in the direct light of a sunset, but have noticed this bird looks gray when backlit.
I discovered the Green-tailed Towhee last year in the desert southwest. Sometimes I would get brief glimpses of it, but not photos. When I could manage a shot, it was usually in the densest part of the bush with deep shadows. I really hope to get back and try again.
Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Not wanting to spook this female Golden-fronted Woodpecker, I leaned as far left as I could to get this shot before she climbed out of sight. Her front is plain white, so I really like this side/back view, which I think is much more interesting than a frontal pose.
This Barred Owl was so still and quiet, I almost missed it. I would have preferred a more interesting sky, but it was overcast, and the setting sun was invisible behind the clouds. Still, I felt fortunate to catch him with his powerful claws clearly visible.
It was heavily overcast as I drove around, seeing only birds out of range. I decided to stop and wait. After a while, this Orange-crowned Warbler worked its way through low branches, briefly stopping in front of me. There's nothing like a warbler to brighten the day.
The Pine Siskin is in motion about 90% of the time, and this one was no exception. I was fortunate to catch it on an open perch, with green foliage further in the background. Just before it took off, it gave me a goodbye look that completed this profile shot.
I had successfully photographed a female Western Bluebird but tried in vain to capture a male. I was about to try and get shot of this female when her mate joined her. I refocused on the male just as she was expressing her opinion about something.
I like to go to the beach in the late afternoon when there are enough clouds in the west to make a sunset promising. While waiting, I photograph birds, like this little Sanderling. I got the bird but missed the sunset as the clouds cleared, leaving a sun too-bright to capture.
Some birds prefer thorny thickets for cover, and I'm fascinated at how they maneuver, take off, and land in them. This Cassin's Sparrow is grasping a tiny branch with a thorn sticking up. It's often these adaptations that make birds so fascinating.
You'd think a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher would almost disappear against a blue sky. Thankfully, that's not true. This bird shows up well against any background if you can get close enough. Then you can see the feather detail that makes this bird so fantastic in any environment.
The sun was tracing its familiar downward arc at the end of the day. There were a few clouds, but it was clearing to the west, casting shadows. I was about to call it a day when this Coopers Hawk landed nearby. He was looking for dinner, and not finding anything, moved on.
Qualifying as one of the most piercing voices in the forest, the Carolina Wren is both loud and proud. I've been on widely separated trails and changed my plans just so I could see and hear this bird more clearly. This one was no different and commanded attention.
On the totem pole of birds, the common Song Sparrow may be near the bottom for some people. But I want to celebrate it with the thought that we may eventually put at risk whatever we take for granted, and we can't afford to lose a single species.
One thing I like about Lesser Goldfinches is a pair tends to stick close to one another, so I can often capture both from one vantage point. I saw the female first, then this brilliant male landed nearby, and I got this shot just as he gave me a quick glance.
For me, the Black-headed Grosbeak has been a shy bird. I'm always hoping to see one when I'm in their range, but sightings have been infrequent. That's why I was pleased to catch this male studying something below him, which allowed me to get several shots.
The last bird I photographed in 2019 was this Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was chilly, but the sun came out in the late afternoon. I picked a promising site and waited. This male landed, but seemed uncomfortable with me and soon took off, but not before I got this shot.
Although this looks like a late afternoon shot of the Vermilion Flycatcher, it is actually early morning sidelight, with some of the light being blocked by the tree trunk. I love the way it is just enough to show detail while creating a touch of mood and mystery.
I love to catch a bird in the clear, but it is rarer than you think. Thorns, brambles, and a dense tangle of branches are what I most often see. But if I wait long enough and take enough photos, I finally get a shot like this of the male Phainopepla.
Male Northern Cardinal
I'm always stunned by how red the male Northern Cardinal appears in the field. Not in every case, such as in bright light, but in the shade of the canopy, the color pops. Every time, this guy is pretty chill, confident in his place in nature, just like we should all be.
The Horned Lark is considered a common bird but is in steep decline. I looked for this bird in multiple states and only had rare sightings too far away to get a photo. So, I was delighted to find this one content to sit still, but he never gave me a backward glance.
I watched this Black-crested Titmouse land here more than once on the way to a nearby feeder, but the light on this perch was terrible in the afternoon, so I returned the next morning. As expected, along came the Titmouse, this time landing in good light and making my day.
I enjoy birds along the shore, like this Ring-billed Gull, but often get distracted. The beach engages my senses, as well as my imagination. Near sunset, I'm torn even more as the demands on my attention multiply. Eventually, I just have to surrender to the moment.
This Great-tailed Grackle was interesting, walking along a washed-out fence row. He was carrying small rocks from one area to another, sporting the characteristic iridescent plumage that shimmers various shades of color beyond black depending on the angle and quality of light.
As the name implies, the Cactus Wren is a bird of the desert southwest. I observed its habits and then went to a position that would give me the best shot. This face-to-face pose shows off its bright white eyebrow and the clustering of dark spots on its upper chest.
The Brown-headed Nuthatch is one of the most energetic little acrobats I've seen. Nuthatches are known for their ability to climb up and down tree trunks. This little bird also swings over and around tiny branches with ease, making it fun to watch and challenging to photograph.
Male Black-tailed Gnatcatcheer
The Black-tailed Gnatcatcher will occasionally pause from his neverending and fast-paced task of searching for insects and spiders. This male was accommodating in letting me get this shot, but he was obviously still looking for his next meal at the same time.
This Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a bit backlit against an overcast sky, and there was a small branch that partially obscured some of the body. I wasn't happy with those flaws, but I like the detail that is there and the lovely pose I don't know exactly how to describe.
I knew the sun was about to set but pressed on as usual. Up ahead, I saw birds in bushes that looked like their evening roost and watched as different ones hopped up on a higher branch. That's when I got this Lincoln Sparrow in good light, almost popping off the page.
Male Red-winged Blackbird calling
Walking along a road with water on both sides, I looked for egrets at the end of the day. Right on schedule, though, this male Red-winged Blackbird took to his favorite perch. I stopped and listened to him sing his evening song as we both watched the setting sun.
Adolescent Snow Goose in Flight
I've always wondered if only other bird photographers would appreciate the challenges of getting this shot. Keeping the head and feet of the adolescent Snowgoose in focus, while the rest of the bird is in the violent motion of landing is no small feat. What do you think?
While most of the little brown jobs were on the ground looking for food on a cold day, this apparently well-fed Field Sparrow took to the branches. I was happy to catch him in good light as he puffed out a bit to stay warm. I like the tiny details in this shot.
I watched this Carolina Chickadee weave through branches as I waited to get a shot. He was partially obscured most of the time. I was sure he was about to fly away when he paused in the open, offering a backward glance just before blending back into the foliage.
Florida Red-shouldered Hawk
This Florida Red-shouldered Hawk and I both frequented a large pond and marshy area, but he was usually on the far side, out of camera range. Suddenly he landed in this tree, focused on something below. He soon dropped down out of sight and flew away with what looked like a frog.
Female Hooded Warbler
This female Hooded Warbler was looking for insects on the ground when she decided to hop up on the arm of this garden chair. With her constant movement, I couldn't catch her in a perfect pose. Just as I thought she was going to settle down, she flew into distant bushes.
Male House Finch
The House Finch is native to western North America but was introduced in the east. The male's red head and breast have gained him at least a few fans. This one had just landed in lovely light near his mate and lingered long enough for me to get this shot.
Female Scarlet Tanager
When I first started birding, I was surprised to find out that the females were often duller than the males. It seems so different from our human species. Still, the females are often stunning in their own right, such as this brightly colored female Scarlet Tanager.
Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
I believe this is a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Juveniles are both strange-looking and challenging to distinguish between the Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned. I was running an errand, and when I saw this bird, I just had to stop and take its photo.
Male American Kestrel
When I found this male American Kestrel clutching a tiny branch, he was looking straight ahead. I took a photo and congratulated myself for slipping up on this very skittish species without him knowing. Then he turned to face me and let me know he had spotted me.
This American Pipit landed about 50 feet ahead. I couldn't tell what it was, though, and sat still hoping it would come closer. I got increasingly excited as it zigzagged its way towards me in rapid spurts of motion. I barely managed this backlit shot before it took off.
Male Wild Turkey
I heard this stunning male Wild Turkey calling as I walked along a stream-side trail. Following the call, I spotted his hens in tall grass first. Then there he was, strutting around in a small open area, calling occasionally, and keeping everyone in sight.
When I found an area with tall grasses and low brush, I got excited about the chance to see sparrows. The prize of the day was this Swamp Sparrow. He curiously watched as I got this shot where he was lit by the sun and appeared to be framed by some of the dried grasses.
This little Downy Woodpecker landed in shadows and was facing away from me. I followed him up the tree with my camera, and when he paused in good light, I got this photo. I didn't realize he was so scruffy until I could see him clearly.
Great Blue Heron
In the distance, I could see this Great Blue Heron in tall grass. He was hunkered down as if hiding but didn't fidget as I slowly approached. Still, I expected him to take off at any second. Knowing I couldn't press my luck with these birds, I stopped and got this shot.
When I spotted this Red-tailed Hawk, it was facing away from me. Based on the size, I think it was a female. As I watched, she slowly turned toward me and then spent several minutes scanning the area. Unfortunately, she didn't find anything to eat and eventually moved on.
Driving around, I spotted an American Robin feeding on the berries of a large Privet bush. The sun was going down, but there was plenty of light under a clear sky. As I approached the Privet, the Robin turned facing the sun to let me know he wasn't finished eating.
Immature White Crowned Sparrow
This Immature White-crowned Sparrow had been hopping around so often, and quickly, I had trouble following him. I barely got this shot on an old log before he moved on again. Later I wished I had gotten more poses, but I love the warm brown sunlit scene.