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on Apr 4, 2019 in Wildlife Photography

The White-breasted Portrait

White-breasted Nuthatch
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

One of the unique adaptations of the bird world are the Nuthatches. They’re the bird that walks DOWN the tree trunk, head first looking for a meal. When you think about it, it’s really smart ’cause all the rest of the bird species go UP the trunk looking for a meal. Those species miss the majority of the time stuff stuck in the top of the bark, but not the nuthatches. While I love all three North American species, it’s the White-breasted I work the hardest at getting that single, clean portrait. What makes up that portrait?

White-breasted Nuthatch
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

Well, there are a number of elements, two of the more important ones are the bird and the tree. In the spring the breast is its whitest. It starts to get dirty once nesting season begins and they are drilling out their cavity. So you wanna catch them early and on a trunk with character. Then, you need to be able to get close to them ’cause they are small! Lastly, you want a background that shows off their unique biology of traveling down a trunk, curving their head out looking for the next meal or, competition. Doesn’t seem like much to ask of a subject but having chased them for years, it’s easier then it sounds!

White-breasted Nuthatch
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

I was very fortunate to set up the D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII on a trunk right next to a hanging feeder the birds loved. This one White-breasted frequented it making is easier to get the shot. You can see three photos here. The top one is my favorite as the wind has blown its feathers just a tad and along with its pose, gives the White-breasted a little gesture with the light and texture. The second one, yeah, not a favorite at all! It appears like I grabbed the nuthatch and threw hard against the tree where it stuck. Yuck! I like the light on the last one but a tad of the tail is out of the frame and gesture like it wants out of here. Just like portraits of folks, those of critters need to tell a story and share its character, especially the White-breasted portrait.

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