Winter Birds Bonanza!

By josh • Nature, Wildlife • 14 Jan 2013

Saturday morning brought springlike temperatures to the Champlain Valley and the birds that showed up in our yard must have found it pretty balmy.  We had an impressive suite of winter finches- 11 common redpolls, 1 hoary redpoll (first I’ve seen since March, 2011!), 7 pine grosbeaks, and 35 pine siskins.  These were the first siskins we’ve had at the house since Thanksgiving, so they didn’t fill me with as much dread (for my feed bill) as they sometimes might.

I managed to get a few photos of the pine grosbeaks before I had to begin the busy weekend routine.  I’m glad I got this chance.  Who knows when we’ll have a pine grosbeak year like this again?

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak
South Burlington, Vermont
January 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 1000

Though they’re not terribly wary when they’re in a feeding frenzy, they are not easy to photograph.  They are constantly on the move, ducking and reaching behind branches and fruit, never stopping to pose or get out in the open enough for a clear shot.  Their coloration (at least the females and non-breeding males) is also smudgy and gray.  It always seems to look out-of-focus and noisy.  Also, their vent is brilliant white, which creates an exposure problem I wasn’t anticipating.  Of course, I’ve had very little light to work with as well, but that’s par for the course.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak
South Burlington, Vermont
January 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 1000

This last is handheld at 1/200s and pretty darn sharp!  I’m nothing if not sturdy.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak
South Burlington, Vermont
January 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 640

 

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3 Responses

  1. Lovely photos. Did you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count? And if so, will you be publishing photos of such? I posted photos of some of my visitors on my web site (though not even close to your artful photos). Taking the photos added to the joy of the count.

    Regards,
    Bernie Paquette
    SB Vt

    • Hi Bernie, your GBBC post is great! Very nice to see both goldfinches- they’ve been completely absent from our neighborhood this winter. In fact, we haven’t had white-throated sparrows yet this year either, and we don’t get red-breasted nuthatches at all. Good to see them in South Burlington! Lovely redpoll photos too.

      I did enter a few counts for the GBBC, but we only had a few species. We had a sharpie hanging around that was nice for the count but kept most of our regulars away.

  2. Maria Everett

    I have a flock of them on my flowering crab tree . They are here every morning and have been for more than a week.

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