While my backyard bird feeder is still sitting empty – the local birds haven’t found it yet – the feeder at the Mongaup Falls blind was busy yesterday morning!  I know that some bird photogs will say that shooting at a feeder isn’t purely “wild,” or some such thing.  On one hand I can agree, at least to the extent that a songbird in a tree or in flight generally makes a nicer photo than the same bird at a feeder.  But hell, if I’m standing in a blind next to a feeder, and the birds are there doing their thing, I’m going to get the shot!  (Of course this was the morning I left the Speedlite at home…)

White-breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatches, Chickadees, and a flock of Blue Jays were the primary visitors on this morning, and they were used enough to the blind and a human presence that they didn’t much care if you were inside, so long as you weren’t moving too much in the window near the feeder.  I parked myself in that window and just held still, and after a few minutes they pretty much ignored any small composition movements I made.

Black-capped Chickadee

When possible I did try to get shots of them away from the feeder; there was ample opportunity, since they would grab a few seeds and retreat to the surrounding trees and scrub to eat.  This Chickadee was one such, and I even broke the rules and kept a photo that doesn’t clearly show his face (he’s trying to crack open a seed held in his foot) simply because I love the fuzz of his feathers in the warm morning light.

Blue Jay

The Blue Jays were trickiest to work with; while the little guys didn’t care about me much, the Jays kept alert and almost any movement would send them chattering back into the trees.  It took some patience to get a good shot of them, and while he may be sitting in bird seed here, I love his expression, and am just happy to have gotten a Blue Jay shot where he isn’t way up in a tree somewhere.

Eagle tracks

Of course while I was shooting the little guys, I was keeping an eye out for the big boys, who were hanging out about a mile down the ice; they made a few passes up later on, but it was clear that they’d already been there that morning.  Nothing like seeing eagle tracks in the snow!

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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