Sometimes if we are really lucky we don’t have to go very far to spot birds-of-prey. This short article features some images of birds-of-prey that were recently visiting my backyard in Grimsby, Ontario.
Unfortunately we often have to capture images ‘in the moment’ which often means through windows as is the case with the first four images in this article. If we try to shoot straight through the glass panels of windows it can help to minimize the negative impact on image sharpness. Since the birds were perched on a fence on the side of my backyard I had to shoot at a very obtuse angle and under this situation sharpness suffered considerably.
I need to state upfront that I am only guessing when it comes to the species of birds that I photographed for this article. If any readers have some expertise they can share I would love to know the exact species. As far as I can tell these first three images are of a Coopers Hawk.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
It arrived late in the afternoon, necessitating me using a slower shutter speed to try to keep my ISO as low as possible.
After taking a few images through my kitchen window I used the front door and went outside, then tried to sneak up on the hawk perched on the fence in my backyard. As soon as I slowly poked my head up over the fence it immediately took flight and I was unable to capture any additional images.
As you can see with the image below, I was treated to another visitor in my backyard this morning. My best guess, based on its small size and colouring, is that it was a Merlin falcon. (NOTE: special thanks to one of our readers, Glen Fox, for clarifying that the bird is actually a sharp-shinned hawk)
I shot the image above through my kitchen window, and knowing that sharpness would suffer considerably due to the shooting angle I went outside to try my stealth skills once again.
This time I tried to shield my head behind the neighbor’s gate post, allowing me to stand up unnoticed. I was able to acquire focus on the bird and captured the image above. You can clearly see the dramatic improvement with image sharpness.
Even though the falcon was quite a bit smaller than the hawk I spotted the previous day, it was not nearly as skittish as the larger bird.
This allowed me to slowly and carefully change my position behind the fence in order to capture a few different perspectives of the falcon.
I kept my face hidden behind my Nikon 1 V2 and did not make direct eye contact with the bird.
It even ruffled up its feathers for me…
Finally it turned around and looked like it was going to fly off, so I captured one final image focusing in as tight as I could.
As I slowly re-framed my shot to allow for some flight room, the bird quickly dropped down off the fence and flew off before I could acquire focus. Maybe I’ll be luckier the next time I get another bird-of-prey visitor!
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.