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on May 16, 2014 in Wildlife Photography

Blue Means Spring


Mountain Bluebirds are simply a gorgeous bird that are hilarious to watch and photograph. When spring pops, the male Mountain Bluebirds swing into action looking for females. They have a certain panic about all their actions which turn into such expressive postures as they perch and look for a mate. Being cavity nesters, once they have established the ol household, you know where to focus your efforts in making the photos. I could and have literally spent days doing just that. Here’s some of my clicks from this week at Custer State Park spending a few moments with the great little critter.

Is there a “trick” to getting the shot? If there is one trick that always works, that’s time. The more time you put in, the better the photographs. The other trick I think is working just in great light. While I’ve used flash at times, it doesn’t come close to the light Mother Nature can bring to the males making their blue glow! At Custer, you can use your vehicle as a blind but I was walking the road to get these images. With the D4s / 800f5.6 w/TC-.25 (1000mm) I walked the road between to nesting boxes watching the female. Why the female? It’s spring and where she goes, the male will follow. Now you have to get use to constantly moving if shooting in the AM as they need for food keeps the bluebirds moving. But when you watch, you’ll see a pattern that goes something like, find food, share with female, feel proud, perch and look studly until the female wants food again. It’s during those moments of studliness that the male will sit the longest. It’s then you can get close and make the shots you see above. How close am I? I was at the MFD of the 800mm, 18feet. I feel it’s essential to get close physically and use the optics to isolate. In this case, setting the tripod down so the background is all green. I’m back in the Sierra and out looking at the couple of Mtn Bluebird nests we have on the mountain behind our home. Our bluebirds are just arriving and checking out nesting cavities. After the great time in SD with them, I’m really wanting a nest to spend time with. Because for me, blue means spring!