Downy Woodpecker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS

Shortly after I built vs3.0 of our water feature at The Ranch, I planted the woodpecker perch. Many looking at it wonder why a ten-foot-tall, dead top of pine is planted in the ground four feet from the water feature basically in the middle of the property. If you’re not a backyard bird photographer, you would simply check it off as odd. But for you folks who follow my blog, it’s pretty much operation as normal for me. I’ve put up dead sticks for a long time for backyard bird photography. Well on New Year’s day with the nice light, I set up on the woodpecker perch to shoot for the first time.

Red-shafted Flicker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS

Why did I wait so long? The woodpeckers, Red & Yellow-shafted Flickers, Hairy and Downy (along with magpies, nuthatches, and Clark Nutcrackers) have been coming to the perch regularly for about 45 days. Before that, it was pretty hit or miss. I really wanted the Downy, that was my target species. So I waited to set up on it once they became totally accustomed to the perch, me, and the activity at The Ranch. I didn’t want any negative responses. You might be asking what is making them land on the perch in the first place? On the other side of the perch is a suet cake, placed there as they will land as you see on the opposite side of the food. It was all planned for shooting in the afternoon light.

And the background so out of focus? I can shoot at f/22 and it will look just as out of focus because the background is over one hundred yards away. The placement of the woodpecker perch was first, close to living trees and shrubs and the water feature to make the birds feel safe. It was placed for the background I wanted. And most importantly, for the afternoon light. It was a really nice first time shooting the woodpecker perch the first day of the year!

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