Posts Tagged ‘Sandhill Cranes’

The Fat Finch’s Bird and Photo Walk

February 27, 2012

Thanks to Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, and various ducks, our Fat Finch photo/bird walk last Saturday was a success. Four of us took out a group of twenty people for hints and tips on bird photography and we thought you’d like to see some of the results. For this post we’ve selected three photos that illustrate some of the suggestions we made last time in Eight Steps to Great Bird Photography.

First up is a crane in flight, taken by one of the leaders, Tomas Spross.

Tomas Spross 2012

For those of you interested in the finer points of photography, that photo was taken with a 300mm f-4 lenses set at f-11 and 1/2000th of a second. Notice the diagonal created in the photo by the bird’s body. Diagonal compositions often create a dynamic sense of movement in photographs and this photograph conveys the energy and speed of flight. Triangles have the same effect, illustrated here by the triangle created by the bird’s wings that leads your eyes directly to the bird’s eye which is at one of the Rule of thirds intersections. (More on that below.)

Next up is a fine photo of a Green-winged Teal taken by another of the leaders, Bosque Bill, as he likes to be known. This horizontal composition conveys the calmness of the duck. Note that the duck’s eyes are not at either side of the photo, so the viewers’ eyes aren’t led out of the photo before they notice the blue-green reflection on the water of the duck’s head .

Bosque Bill 2012

The other two leaders of the group, Linda Rockwell and Kent Winchester, never got around to taking any photos. We are waiting for participants to send us examples of their photos.

We end today’s post with a photo made by Matt Bruno, a participant who is ten years old. Matt was unable to go with us after the introductory talk at the Fat Finch store but he sent along three photographs he made earlier in the month. We’re using only one today, a shot of an American Kestrel that perfectly illustrates another point about composition.

Matt Bruno 2012

We have here another diagonal composition, the tree limbs beginning in the lower left and ending with the kestrel. Although the kestrel is perched in this photo, the diagonal gives you a sense of its kinetic energy, waiting for release when it swoops down on its next bit of food.

Rule of Thirds

Note the location of the kestrel’s eyes – precisely on one of the intersecting points resulting from the Rule of Thirds. (A subset of the Golden Ratio used by artists and architects since at least the time of ancient Egypt.)

Thanks to all who participated. It was a great morning of wild birds and photographers.


March 20, 2011

It was March 3rd this year when the cranes began to move. They rose on thermals almost directly above the house, circling higher and higher until they were visible only when their wings reflected sunlight. Headed north, they were disembodied trumpets to someone stuck on the ground, straining to see them. Trumpets in the orchestra of evolution, Aldo Leopold called them.

It was a good day to die.

And, since dying is a journey we all must take, why not take it on a day the cranes are on the move? A friend and loved one made that choice this year and took her last earthly journey with cranes flying high overhead, calling, beckoning all who listen to return to wildness.




Valentine’s Day and Sex

February 14, 2011

Valentine's Hors d'oeuvre

For Valentine’s Day the folks at Enature have contributed a mating game for we humans to discover which members of the other species our romantic behavior most closely emulates. Play their Mating Game and discover for yourself. However, even if you turn out not to resemble a bird romantically, be sure to click on the bird species descriptions. There you will learn, for instance , that the male Greater Roadrunner dangles a tasty food morsel – a mouse, say – in front of his intended but won’t let her have it until after they’ve mated. Or that Sandhill Cranes, which mate for life, go through elaborate courtship rituals when young. They dance, display, hop, flap, and strut. But after many years together, they simply jump up and down a couple of times before mating.

Sandhill Cranes Return

November 12, 2008

As you can see from the photos, the Sandhill Cranes have returned and we are treated each morning to the sounds of the trumpets of evolution.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane Migration

October 12, 2008

We live beneath a Sandhill Crane flyway and have been waiting for their trumpets to sound this year.  So far, we haven’t heard any although some may have flown over while we were asleep or otherwise engaged.  But it may be a little early.  We didn’t hear the first until October 27th last year.

But they are on their way.  The USGS has satellite transmitters on at least three this year.  They left Alaska and are at least as far south as the state of Washington.  You can follow their progress on the USGS crane migration page and other birds on the main page.

You can also follow their migration here.  We’ll report when we hear the first.  It is one of the autumn rites of passage that make up for the absence of Hummingbirds and the coming of winter.


Sally King was the photographer.

Deer, Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese

November 11, 2007


Yesterday, instead of writing some long, thoughtful blog entry to entertain you, we went birding at the Bosque.  The Bosque del Apache in New Mexico.  We did get some nice photos and here are two.  It isn’t every day that you see deer and Sandhills dining together.  And, as you can see, the Snow Geese are back in force for another winter.


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