Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shady Characters...

Part of the joy of birding is that birds come in all kinds of different sizes, colors, shapes, and shades. The avian kingdom seems to possess every color in the spectrum, and when you catch any bird in good light it can be absolutely resplendent!

Of course, the birds don't always make it easy. Many times they'll stay undercover or keep in the shade, frustrating the birder's desire for a glorious look. If you're photographing birds, shade and shadows can be even more problematic as they detract from the proper exposure and color of the subject. However, shade can also lend a certain calm, cool effect to a photo. It can provide a different appeal and perspective that can be very refreshing, especially if you find yourself photographing the same species over and over.

The Mourning Dove is one of the most recognizable birds in North America. Its call, its silhouette, its flight--they are all easy to pick out, and the bird's staggering numbers assure that even the most casual birder is more than familiar with these somber songsters.

This Dove is perched on an organ-pipe cactus, and the morning sun is filtering through the other cactus arms in warm streaks of light. The dark undersides of the ruffled feathers and the obscured face help describe the rough, dry, chilly mornings of the desert, or maybe that's just how I felt at the time...

This Green Heron is going for the two-face look, and truly his multi-colored plumage is always worth a double take. Like the dark side of the moon, the Green Heron's shaded half is something only a few humans in peak physical and mental condition ever get to see (and it is a well known fact that birders are the apotheosis of human conditioning). I totally dig the great red beard too. This guy would give any viking a run for his money.

The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet is small enough to shade itself under just a few leaves. The improvised parasols catch the sun and illuminate nicely, while just enough light gets through to reveal the strong wing bars and eye-ring of the Kinglet.

So bird in the shade. Bird in the sun. Whatever the lighting, birding is fun.