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All photographs by David Lilly

River Ducks

Winter is excellent for photographing ducks. Most of the ducks I see in Bow River, Calgary in the winter are Northern Ducks - they come south in search of open water and food.

Lovely little American Tree Sparrow

The American Tree Sparrow looks very similar to the House Sparrow, however ther is one ID feature on this sparrow that helps to ID it. Threre is a black spot on the breast (front) of the bird.

The American Tree Sparrow nests in the high lattitudes but comes south in the winter. It usually forges for food on the ground and can be seen around bird feeders in the winter. You will have to look closely as it is very similar to the House Sparrow, except for the black spot. Plus it is a little smaller than the House Sparrow. It has a brownisk crown, unlike the common Redpoll that has a red crown.

Useally if you see one there will be more. 

Look for them this winter around your bird feeders.

Hungry Sharp-shinned Hawk

It is not everyday you get to observe a Sharp-shinned Hawk sit on it's most recent House Sparrow kill. 

I observed this hawk for three plus hours. For the first one and half hours he just sat there on his kill. When he started to get hungry he went to work and started removing the feathers first. Once the Sparrow was clean of feathers, the hawk started eating his lunch. He pulled it apart a little at a time. It looked like he ate the stomach and interior organs first. He then finished the remainder of the Sparrow. Even eating the feet and the head. There was nothing left but feathers.

The photographs to the right are a small fraction of the more than 2000 photos I captured in the time I observed.

My favourite Owl

One of my favourite owls, the Short-eared Owl. The Short-eared Owl is not very common. Sometimes I don't see this owl for a couple of years. I have now discovered a small area where they seem to hang around. The two photos to the right were the photos I have been waiting for, for a long time. I have seen the owl hunt and grab a Vole before but never in the right place. This time, I was in the right place at the right time. The light was not that good, so I had to had a +2 EV.

Three Different Photos

When you have the opportunity to photograph a bird, don't just snap one photo and call it the day.

If the opportunity allows photograph the bird at least with three different poses as demonstrated by the three photographs of the Bohemian Waxwings in this article.

The reason you should photograph the bird with different poses is simple. It is to have more than one photograph. For myself it is important because if I want to sell this photo and when an editor asks for a photograph of the waxwing looking to the right, I can tell him or her I have the photo.

Also, it makes it more challenging when photographing a bird because you may have to pursue the same bird for many years to get a number of different poses. In this case it was easy the Bohemian Waxwing stood still and turned his head and the light was great.