Cameras and Birds, Birds and Cameras

Cameras get in the way sometimes. If you are too busy trying to get the photo you imagine, you can forget to remember the event itself. In addition, the two dimensional representation that results from clicking the shutter will always be just a two dimensional representation; flat and frozen in time. Nonetheless, there are some photographs that you really want to make and share.

For instance, last week we came upon Yellow-rumped Warblers hanging out with Mountain Bluebirds. Now this is nothing absolutely astonishing. Both species share much summer range – the Inter-Mountain West of the United States and Canada – and some year-round range – Southern New Mexico, Southern Arizona and Mexico. As with so much other wildlife, both species like the verges between forest and field. They spend time on relatively open perches on the edges and tops of bushes and on fence posts. Both are rasorial, seeking insects. (“Rasorial.” Isn’t that a lovely word? It was in my inbox when we returned from our vacation. I subscribe to A.Word.A.Day which sends me an email each day with a new word. You can subscribe here. It means: Scratching the ground to look for food.) So finding the two together is probably fairly common but it was new to us.

The first time we saw them together, and there were many, we had no camera with us and were disappointed because the sun was low and the light perfect and the yellow rump and the blue bird were not more than six inches apart. The second time we saw them we had the camera but none were close enough to encompass in a single photo. The third time was almost perfect. A Bluebird was perched at the topmost branch of a bush and a Yellow-rumped Warbler was on another branch of the same bush only eight or so inches away from the Bluebird. It was a perfect setup. Unless you consider the fact that somehow or the other the digital camera which I carry had gone into its “close-focus” mode which means that it automatically focuses on the closest object in the field of view. We got several lovely photos of sharply focused foreground grass with a little blurry blue spot and yellow spot in the background. Here it one of them. mountain-bluebird-and-yellow-rumped-warbler-blurred-1-of-1.jpg Click on the photo to enlarge it and you will see what I mean. I’ve removed the sharply focused grass.

Finally, on the last day of the vacation, just as we were driving off the ranch where we had spent a week, Warblers and Bluebirds were rasorially cavorting right in front of the car. But not together. We never did get that perfect photograph.

But, we still have the unpolluted memory of that first camera-less day. We’re just sorry we lack a good photograph to share with you. Here is the best we can do and you can’t even see that yellow rump.mountain-bluebird-and-yellow-rumped-warbler-2-1-of-1.jpg

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