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Monday, February 25, 2013

Ovenbird Up Close, J. N. Ding Darling NWR, Canon SX 50 HS

Ovenbird on the ground, viewed from above, at the entrance ramp to J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Visitor's Center. This is such a cool view of that head pattern of the two dark stripes on either side of the orange crown. (Photographed with Canon SX 50 HS super-zoom point and shoot camera (cost $429), AV, 1/60, ISO 2000, f5.6, + 1/3, 100% digital zoom ratio.) This was a difficult photo situation and bigger, more expensive DSLR cameras like my Canon 1D Mark IV (cost me $5,000) would have produced better photos. Even for DLSR cameras, the low light, moving bird that was mostly obscured by twigs and brush, it would be a photo challenge. I only post these photos to show what is even possible with this little camera in a tough situation. If you want a camera that shoots in low light with better quality photos, get one of the more expensive DLSR cameras from Canon or other manufacturers. It you want a fun camera with an incredible zoom power (up to 1200mm, or 4800mm with digital zoom), weights a little more than a pound and costs a lot less, then you might be interested in the SX 50 HS.

This bird was walking on the ground under bushes and tangle in a shaded area, just the kind of place a wintering Ovenbird would like. Ovenbirds winter in Florida, the southern tip of TX, and farther south.

Can you find the Ovenbird? It was very camouflaged against the leafy, bushy understory. The lower light level made photography a challenge. 

I was amazed I got any clear photos at all. The bird was constantly moving, there were branches in the way, and the very low light levels meant I had a slow shutter speed. I bumped up the ISO to 2000 to increase shutter speed, but even then I still had shutter speeds of 1/60 or 1/50. I kept shooting, waiting for the few seconds when the bird paused and was somewhat still. This camera has image stabilization, which helped. I am constantly surprised at the photos I get with this camera.

Heres the ramp that leads to the visitor's center building and bookstore. The ovenbird was on the right side, near the top of the ramp, so we were looking down on it from above. 

What a secretive and wonderful bird and so special to know it's making a living wintering in this national wildlife refuge. Many people walked by us, not knowing the ovenbird was below. Some stopped to ask what we were looking at. When we said "Ovenbird" some people knew what we meant and were thrilled to see it. For other people, when we had to explain "It's a warbler that walks on the ground," they responded "Can it fly?" We realize there's still so much education about birds to do, and we're happy to do it.

FYI, the AOU (American Ornithologist's Union) has changed the classification of warblers and this is included in our new field guides, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region, which will be for sale on March 26th. For example, Ovenbird is the first bird in the warbler section, followed by Worm-eating Warbler and the two waterthrushes. The genus Dendroica is gone. The Genus Setophaga, which used to include only the American Redstart, now also includes Hooded Warbler, two species from the genus Parula, and everything that used to be in the genus Dendroica. So, if you want to be current, get our new guides which you can pre-order here.


Kevin said...

Great shots of one of the coolest colors in nature: the orange crown of the Ovenbird. Can't wait for your new guides!

Debbie Barnes said...

I took your advice and bought a Canon sx 50 and should have it in my hot little hands Friday. Sunday I am snowshoeing up Guanella Pass (if the weather cooperates)to photograph White-tailed Ptarmigan. I think rather than drag up my Canon 40D with my 100-400 I will tryout the SX50. The weight will be quite a bit lighter! I will let you know how it performed for me!
Debbie Barnes
Colorado Springs

The Geeks said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)