Red Legged Thrush

This article shares some images of a red legged thrush and discusses how the photographs were captured, as well as illustrating some cropping options.

Red legged thrush are native to the Caribbean region and commonly found in the Bahamas, Dominica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The photographs in this article were captured handheld in Cuba using Nikon 1 gear.

There are six subspecies of red legged thrush that vary mainly by island. These birds are about 27 centimetres long (~11 inches) and weigh approximately 75 grams (~2.6 ounces). Red legged thrush are mainly bluish-grey above and lighter grey below. They have a white and black throat with a striped appearance. Colouring does vary by subspecies. One of the most notable features of a red legged thrush are its bright orange/red eye ring, bill and legs.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229 mm, 618.3 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

I had spotted a few individual; birds around the resort and found them to be skittish. My best opportunity for photographs happened as I was hiking around a marshy area a short walk from the hotel.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-2500, full frame capture

I noticed a bird with orange/red legs fly into a large bush and wondered what it was. So I approached very slowly, spotting the bird perched on a branch on the other side of the bush. In was in dark shade so I set my camera for spot metering to get a good exposure on the bird. I slowly adjusted my shooting angle so I could get a reasonably clear background up against the bird as I shot through the branches of the bush.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-2500, cropped to 4069 pixels on the width

The red legged thrust was quite animated, so I increased my shutter speed. I did my best to be as stationary as possible as not to alarm the bird and cause it to take flight. Then I slowly raising my camera up to my eye once I had a good shooting angle.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-2500, cropped to 4133 pixels on the width

If you compare images 3 through 7 with the second photograph in this article, you’ll notice that they are all of the same bird on the same branch.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-3200, cropped to 3928 pixels on the width

I adjusted my crops based on the body position and the direction of the gaze of the bird.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-3200, cropped to 3883 pixels on the width

At one point the red legged thrush looked skyward as it kept tabs on a raptor that was flying over the area. This potential hazard likely kept the bird hidden in the bush for a longer duration, and allowed me to capture some additional images.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 246 mm, 664.2 mm efov, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-640, cropped to 4515 pixels on the width

As the bird settled down I was able to decrease my shutter speed and capture some images at a correspondingly lower ISO value. A gust of wind allowed a ray of sunlight come through the foliage and brighten the head of the red legged thrush. A nice bonus! Spending additional time photographing a cooperative bird usually yields some benefits.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted as appropriate.

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