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All photographs by David Lilly

European Starlings Arrive Early

Starlings arrive early in parts of Canada. They seek out the best nest holes and protect them from the Northern Flickers and House Sparrows. This year in Alberta winter is still in the air, but the Starlings have arrived.

The Starlings are not native to Canada, but they have adopted very well to our cold climate. They were brought here by the early Europeans.

I photograph the Starlings every chance I get. I like the florence colours when the sun is shinning on them.

As they are very black bird some care has to taken not to under expose the bird. I usually over expose a black bird by one and a half stops. You don't want to overexpose the bird to much as it will be difficult to recover the details in the feathers. Also, don't under expose the bird as this will cause digital noise in the under exposed area. In the photographs I overexposed by .67 EV.

In the photos to the right I had to make decisions when photographing the Starlings as to how I was going to compose the photograph. Usually, with a group of birds I like to compose with just one bird in the frame. In the bottom photograph I composed with three birds and not four. Three birds seem to work for a composition as the eye looks at the bird o the left and then move to the two birds on the right. Also, the starling on  the left is looking toward the other two Starlings whick works for the composition.

What does it take for Good Bird Photographs?

 Double click on the thumnail to enlarge photograph

First, the photographs in this article are what I consider good photographs. Everyone has good bird photographs and have their own criteria for considering their photograph a good bird photograph.

Here are my criteria:

1. There must be some action in the photograph. For example, birds in flight.

2. It must be a difficult photograph.

3. A photograph I have been striving for a long time is the Hooded Merganser flapping its wings. I have always pictured a Hooded Merganser flapping its wings in my mind and finally, I was able to get the photograph.

4. Of course, it must be sharp. 

5. The light must be good.

6. It must be something unusual. The Sharp-shinned Hawk on the bottom right was a rare photograph for me. It was the first time I was able to approach so close. He was bathing in a puddle of water on a small dirt road.

Every bird photographer has great bird photographs. Set your criteria, it may be different than my criteria. It will keep you motivated to get better bird photographs.

Not So Early Spring Birds

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article on this front page called "Early Spring Arrivals"

My thoughts at that time were Spring has arrived. However, two weeks later and Spring is still not here in the Praire Sloughs.

Today I visited some of my favorite spots for birds, but all I found was ice and snow.

I did find a Ring-necked pheasant that was willing to pose for me on a bail of hay. The early morning sun was on the wrong side of the pheasant, but by editing in Lightroom I was able to recover a possible disaster.

This was one time I got my settings on my camera wrong. I should have increased the EV to +2.