Dickcissel, 1st yr. female
landed in a shrub behind our bird feeder.
Photos taken with the Canon SX 40 HS, from a distance, with superzoom, so excuse photo quality.
Property bird #198! That's what we had this morning at Bobolink Farm, our NH property, when this Dickcissel landed about 30 ft. beyond our bird feeder in a tall shrub. We heard a harsh, low-pitched "djeep" call and spotted the bird on top of a nearby willow shrub. I ran inside and grabbed a camera. We keep a list of all the birds we have seen on our property, so it is very exciting for us when a new bird shows up for the first time.
This is an uncommon bird in our neck of the woods, but our new The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America does show it in our area on the range map, within the yellow dotted line, which connotes extralimital range in migration.
The above bird appears to be a 1st year female that has just molted out of its juv. plumage for it is very pale with little yellow wash underneath, appears to essentially have no distinctive reddish brown on the median or lesser wing coverts, has a suggestion of buffy wing bars, and the feathers of the wings show basically no signs of wear. Juveniles are browner overall and have fine dark streaking across their breast and on their flanks: they only keep this plumage until August.
The male, shown here, and photographed in FL in April, (with a Canon 1D Mark IV) has a yellow breast with a central breast dot, black bib, yellowish eyebrow and malar region, white chin and reddish-brown wing coverts.
I wanted to document this new property bird with a photo, so when I ran into the house, the nearest, fastest-to-use camera was the Canon Powershot SX 40 HS, a digital point and shoot "superzoom." My big Canon 1D Mark IV with a big tripod and 500 mm lens would have taken longer to set up, and possibly spooked the bird. The bird did not stay long.
About the photos, (tech-head talk, skip this if you want),
This bird was backlit, at quite a distance from me, on a blowing in the wind shrub. Challenging photography. I used the SX 40 on the AV setting. The middle photo taken at 1/640, f 5.8, ISO 200, focal length 150.5 mm, the digital zoom ration is 195%, file size of photo was 1.94 MB, and photo was cropped. I used the digital zoom menu setting at 2.0x which zooms to a specified factor and shoots with reduced camera shake. The other two photos were taken at 1/1000, f 5.8, 200 ISO, 312% digital zoom ratio. Photos also cropped. There is plus and minus about using this Canon SX 40 camera. The plus is low cost (under $400) lightweight and it can capture birds at a far distance. However, it is often hard to use and you have to zoom in and out to find the bird. It is much easier to get a decent photo of a closer bird with a standard digital SLR (more costly) camera and telephoto lens. But all this is a topic for another blog post.