Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dark fence, dark bird

with 27 comments

Bird on Metal Fence by Huge Sunflower Colony 8887

Click for better color, clarity, and size.

This is the fence I mentioned last time, the one separating the shopping center from the huge field of sunflowers to its south, and through two bars of which I managed to photograph a horsemint. Now you get to see that I wasn’t the only entity who had business with the fence. I’m thinking friend bird was a grackle, but if anyone knows otherwise, please say so.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2013 at 6:20 AM

27 Responses

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  1. I think that is a grackle, and a young one at that. The way it’s standing is one clue. It looks very much as though it’s waiting for a parent with food. Also, it doesn’t seem fully feathered. I’m no expert, so we’ll see if someone else can either confirm or deny.

    What’s clear is that you’ve made a terrific photo. And look at the way the yellow of the field is reflected in the bird’s eye. Perfect! I like the asymmetry, too. I think it’s much more interesting than if the bird were centered.


    June 3, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    • How good of you to notice the yellow of the bird’s eye harmonizing with the greater yellow of the sunflower field. You may well be right that this is a juvenile, but I looked back just now at the nine pictures I took of the bird, and only the last two show it standing the way you see here. I think that stance was in preparation for taking off, which it soon did; I’d already gotten as close as I felt I could without scaring the bird away.

      The bird’s off-center position comes from after-the-fact cropping. If I’d had some assurance the bird would stay put longer, I’d have framed the picture more that way through the viewfinder, but my immediate task was to get the bird in focus before it flew away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2013 at 8:14 AM

  2. Love the blur of the yellow in the background. I’m not sure on the ID of the bird.


    June 3, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    • That golden glow was too good not to use as a contrasting backdrop for the dark bird and the dark fence. I was fortunate that the bird settled there when it did, even if it didn’t stay for long.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2013 at 8:21 AM

  3. Schöööööööööön!!


    June 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM

  4. Well done!!!


    June 3, 2013 at 8:58 AM

  5. Great composition.


    June 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM

  6. I’m no grackle expert, having come to their territory only in the last few years, but yes, this is one. As for its age, it appears to me that the males start out a fairly dull dark-brownish color before morphing gradually into their full black iridescence, but the females don’t get quite as dark: the usual sexual dichotomy of avian coloration. The rather scruffy feathers, however, I can say from regular observation are pretty characteristic of grackles–compared to the crows I lived with up north, grackles are very scrawny looking birds in general and often look to me like they’re moulting even when it’s *not* That Time of the Season. All the same, I find them just as entertaining as any birds. Given the wind that was buffeting your Monarda, I suspect the birds had to do lots of wide-stance perching at times just to keep a grip and not be blown over, but takeoff positioning could certainly have played a part in the pose. In any case, it all made for a great shot, and I admire the way your cropping made such a beautiful counterpoint between the vertical bars of the fence and the horizontal composition, adding such energy to what those grid elements would otherwise make so staid!


    June 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    • You’re clearly a lot more of an expert than I am. Thanks for confirming the grackleness of this bird and for giving all that additional information. Yes, grackles can look scruffy, but then so can I when I’ve been tramping about in nature for several hours, especially now that the season is heating up.

      I’m glad you like my eccentric (in the mathematical sense of ex-centric, off-center) composition. I’ll agree that there’s extra dynamism in having all those vertical bars in a distinctly horizontal rectangle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2013 at 3:43 PM

  7. That bird has a lot of personality.

    Emily Heath

    June 3, 2013 at 4:27 PM

  8. Love the contrast in the colours. Great timing to get the head turned so you could see the eye.

    Brian Comeau

    June 3, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    • I remember wishing that the bird’s body were turned toward me. To make up for the fact that it faced the “wrong” way, I pressed the shutter button only at moments when the grackle turned its head to the side.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2013 at 9:42 PM

  9. Gorgeous shot Steve!

    Michael Glover

    June 3, 2013 at 8:56 PM

  10. Tolles bild!!! Die Vögel hier sind mir zu schnell haha Ich kann nie fotografieren =(


    June 4, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    • (Linnea says that the birds in her country are too quick and she can never manage to photograph them.) For pictures of birds in the wild it really helps to have a telephoto lens. Mine zooms to 200mm, plus I have a 1.4x extender on it. Even so, I wish I’d been closer to this bird.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2013 at 6:55 AM

  11. Whouaohhh, wow…… il ressort vraiment bien sur les tournesols, bravo pour ce cliché Steve.


    June 5, 2013 at 4:36 AM

    • Merci, Chantal. On pourrait dire que moi aussi je ressors avec ce cliché. Pourvu que je puisse voler comme l’oiseau.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2013 at 5:16 AM

  12. LOVE the colors and composition of this image!


    June 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM

  13. For whatever insane reason, this fabulous photograph reminds me of Monet’s La Pie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:La_Pie_de_Monet.jpg. It would be fun to see them in a gallery side-by-side.

    Susan Scheid

    June 5, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    • How good of you to find a harmony between my photograph and Monet’s painting. I don’t know what the chances are for a work of mine to end up in the same gallery as anything by Monet, but I can dream. Thanks for suggesting it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 5, 2013 at 9:20 PM

  14. […] don’t know what the searcher was after, but the query led to a post about a grackle on a metal fence, and beneath the photograph was a version of my usual caption: “Click for better color, […]

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