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All photographs by David Lilly

Mountain Chickadees

As the name implies, Mountain Chickadees are usually found in the mountains. 

However, they can also be found as far east in the City of Calgary. The chickadees in this article were photographed in the Rocky Mountains just below the snow line a few days ago.

These birds are not that common even in the mountains. When I found this bird it was part of a group of about six chickadees. They were feeding on the spruce and evergreen trees.

They can be mistaken for the Black-capped Chickadee. The white stripe on the head is the identification mark to look for.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

A Sure Sign Spring is Here

Even when I see American Robins I am not sure Spring is is here.

However, when I see the Song Sparrow singing I know we must be in the Spring Season.

Song Sparrows depend on insects for food. I did see a few flying insects today as I photographed these Song Sparrows singing there heart out hoping to attract a female.

Read more about the Song Sparrow < Click Here >

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

It's Nest Building Time

Here is a follow up on the Downy Woodpecker nest to the right. 

I went back to the nest site and found the woodpecker in the nest hole with her head poking out. I saw her throwing wood peices. I have addedd a photo to the right.

I saw this Downy Woodpecker craving out an hole today for a nest. The funny thing it was a male. I guess the male gets to do all the work.

Appearently, the male may crave out more than one hole. The female will inspect the hole and decide which hole she likes.

I hope she likes this hole. It will be a treat to see young and it is easy to photograph. It is on the sunny side of the tree in the morning.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Tough Birds to Photograph - Sparrows

All bird photographers know sparrows are hard to photographs.

I should be more to the point - hard to get good photographs.

The Lincoln’s Sparrow and the White-crowned Sparrow to the right took some time and patience to get the photographs I was hoping for. Patience and some camouflage was what I used. I located the sparrows sat in a camouflaged position and waited. The two sparrows finally sat in the sun and posed for me. I should say they sat for five seconds.

I want to emphasize the importance of making sure you are in the right place. Also don’t try and chase the sparrows you will not get good photographs. As mentioned patience and staying quiet and still in the ready position is the key.

Finding the sparrows takes some effort. First, do some research and find out what habitat the sparrow likes to hang around.

I know the sparrows to the right like piles of dead trees. They also like to forge in wet muddy area, most likely along small ponds and moving water. I found these two sparrows along the river in a dark shaded pile on dead trees.

They were in the shade most of the time. I knew a little patience would produce results and it payed off with the two photographs to the right.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Small Move Big Difference

I explan to bird photographers move around to get better backgrounds.

The two photos of European Starlings to the right are examples of what a small move can do for your compositions.

In the top photo I did not like the tree on the left. To adjust and to get the bottom photo I move about a meter to my left. By doing so I almost eliminated the tree and got a much better composition.

Remember the bird is not going to move, so in order to get a better composition the photographer must move — it can mean the difference between a good photo and a bad photo.

These black birds are difficult to photograph, however in this case I stuck to my main principle and keep the sun to my back.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Lovely American Kestrel

I got  a hint that there might be a pair of American Kestrels nesting in a box on private land. Went and talked to the landowner and he gave me the ok and pointed me in the direction of the nesting box.

Of course I used the standard procedure around nesting birds. I keep my distance and waited for the kestrel to enter or leave the nest. After about 30 minutes one of the Kestrels emerged from the box and flew to a local spruce tree.

I keep my distance again and moved around and got the following photos to the right. 

As most of my Kestrels photos are on fence post the photo here is a relief as they show the Kestrel in a natural setting. 

I had to photograph at a steep angle. As I moved around the Spruce tree the light was good.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Down by the Bow River Today

I have written about water and birds many times before. My favorite place is by the Bow River here in Calgary. There are always a few birds - summer or winter.

My old saying "Find water, Find birds " was true again today. Birds like water and they need water to survive.

Nikon D 500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.