Saturday, December 16, 2006

Faded Blues

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I spent a few hours this morning and again in the afternoon taking pictures with the new Canon 30D. Finally figured out that I was using the wrong indicator marker for the AUTO setting--I had it on Program instead. This explains why some of my images were not as sharp as I thought they should be. Derrr!

I got decent pix of cardinals, juncos, titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, downy woodpecker, and house finch. But the stars of the show were the pair of eastern bluebirds that FINALLY came in to the perches near the suet dough. I sat perfectly still until my back ached, snapping frame after frame of our charming blue thrushes.

The quality of a bluebird's blue is so different between males and females. And it's also different from summer to winter. The winter blues in their plumage look like dusty versions of their summer feathers. These dusty-pale blues will darken as the feathers wear over the winter. By spring the pale feather edges are worn off, revealing the darker blue central portions of the feathers, making the bluebirds bluer than blue for the breeding season to come.

I love how they look at this time of year--like faded denim. They seem to blend better with the season's colors--earthtones of dark browns and grays. But that first deep-blue male bluebird of spring against the lemon-lime greens of new meadow grass--that's MY first thrush signaling spring's arrival (sorry robins).

Here are three of the frames I shot today. Don't they make a handsome couple?

She was much braver than he was. She came first to the suet dough while he scolded at her from above, perched on the dinner hook on the tower. Eventually he came in and made a big show of eating his fill at the dough dish as if to prove that he'd conquered his inner wimp.
She paid him no attention.

Thanks to The Bluebird Oracle for setting me straight on my Sialia-related facts.


On December 16, 2006 at 5:19 PM Phoebe said...

Those. Rock. So. Hard.

On December 16, 2006 at 7:15 PM Anonymous said...

I could put out buckets of suet dough, alas, we have to wait about 10 more weeks till their mountain cousins return to our place.
Green with envy in the Black Hills of SD.

On December 16, 2006 at 7:25 PM Anonymous said...


Good choice in cameras. Can you believe the sharpness of your latest your skills grow to match the camera's, look out!

The other Bill Clark

On December 16, 2006 at 7:38 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Thanks Phoebster!

Caroline, we are lucky to have our bluebirds off and on all winter. But we'd be thrilled to have a few mountain BB's too.

TOBC: Thanks amigo! Can't wait to use this puppy in Guate in Feb! CU there!

On December 16, 2006 at 11:09 PM Susan Gets Native said...

That is just perfect.
My first thought, looking at the first photo was, "That's the exact same color of my favorite jeans".

Very, very cool, Bill.

On December 17, 2006 at 10:09 AM Judy said...

Very much enjoying the crisp, colorful photos of birds taken with your new camera. If all your blog readers sent you a $1 "enjoyment fee" you might be able to get that 800 mm lens and impress us even more! Radical...

: )

On December 17, 2006 at 3:33 PM KatDoc said...


My absolutely favorite bird of all time, and you captured them so well. I was on a Christmas Bird Count today, and we had over 60 bluebirds by the time I quit about 2pm. Bluebird and Carolina Wren numbers were outstanding today, thanks in part to the weather. 60 degrees on Dec. 17? Amazing.

On December 17, 2006 at 3:52 PM Anonymous said...

Great photos!

On December 17, 2006 at 6:13 PM Jayne said...

Wow, wow, wow... what glorious shots of the bluebirds. Love that 30D!

On December 17, 2006 at 9:34 PM Mon@rch said...

BT3 - I am just loving all your shots that you taking with the new camera! Keep up the amazing job your doing!

On December 18, 2006 at 11:32 AM Rondeau Ric said...

Hey, I know this guy that runs a birding magazine. You get much better and he might publish some of your work. Eh?


On December 19, 2006 at 10:24 AM Birdfreak said...

Sweet photos with a sweet camera. I had my mind set on a Nikon but with your Canon shots I am not sure anymore...