Friday, April 3, 2009


It's amazing what different bird behaviors you can capture with a camera that you just might miss with your eyes or binoculars. Several days ago, when the outrageous mixed horde of birds descended on my meager backyard, I was fascinated by watching multiple American robins take turns sipping from the concrete birdbath. I snapped several pictures of them drinking, but it wasn't until I was reviewing the pictures that I noticed one was different. I knew I'd hit the shutter button as each bird was sipping, so why was this one robin so fixated on something other than the birdbath? She was, in fact, watching the timely arrival of her friend (both birds are female, as shown by their gray rather than black heads - see the American robin profile for more), whom I also caught unwittingly in the same frame. Had I been watching more closely, rather than birdwatching through a digital lens, I might have witnessed the bird's arrival and the subsequent reshuffling at the birdbath, rather than only noticing it in hindsight.

When we spend too much time watching just one bird, whether we are attempting to identify a new visitor, capture that perfect photograph, or just admiring a single bird's beauty, we miss the overall richness of the bird life all around us. I urge everyone to take a few moments to step back from the lenses of their binoculars and cameras to just watch the birds, and you'll be surprised at what you see. Threat displays, mates begging, shy birds, meticulous eaters, sentries, dominant individuals, problem solvers, reckless fliers, daring intruders, and curious individuals will all visit your feeders - but will you see them if you don't look?


karen said...

It was amazing to me that once I had a camera, I noticed so much more, period! It's like I had new eyes and learned quite quickly that I needed to ALWAYS have my camera available no matter where I went.

Melissa said...

Karen - You're so right! My camera has been indispensible, and I frequently use it to "capture" a bird so I can zoom in on my computer for a more accurate identification. And it's always great to catch these rare moments, so long as we don't miss what's happening outside the lens! Happy birding!