Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Jan. 22, 2013 – Portland, OR – 26 Photos

Greetings all!  I’m late in getting this post up but I finally made it.  Today’s photo shoot was a bit different from my usual Ridgefield NWR event.  January 22, I followed information I had received online about the location of an Ovenbird in Portland, OR.  I live just past the city limits and decided to take the 20 minute trip to the Laurelhurst area of the city to see if I could get a shot of this bird, rarely found here.

[I want to explain here that my basic photography philosophy is to take pictures of wild creatures–in the wild.  I also do not normally bait or use set ups.  If I break my own rules, I will disclose that I did.  Today’s shoot was a break from the rules.  The birds/critters photographed today were all lured in by feeders in a Portland backyard.]

I arrived at the address and upon approaching the front door of the residence, I noticed a sign that basically welcomed birders and to please make your way up the driveway to the back yard.  With camera and tripod in hand, I did just that.  The patio contained about six well-placed chairs complete with blankets and cushions for the comfort of the guests.  Two of the chairs were already occupied by a couple of ladies, one with a Canon 7D and a 100-400mm lens.  Thanks go to the residents for being so cordial.

I greeted the ladies and took a chair, then got the camera ready to go.  This back yard had a minimum of 15 bird feeders with various decorative objects placed around for birds to perch on.  After a while, the birds just arrived in one big group.  All of a sudden this one feeder was covered with no less than a dozen small birds such as, Bushtits, Chickadees, Finches, and Warblers.  I made a point to try to get photos of birds on objects other than the feeders, which wasn’t always possible.

It was a cloudy day and this back yard was in a neighborhood filled with trees, making available light very scarce.  Most of the pictures are taken in the shade.  The only choice I had was to bump my ISO setting way up–sometimes even to 6400, to maintain a decent shutter speed.

After the small feeder birds had arrived and were chowing down at the feeders, we finally spotted the Ovenbird on the ground, poking around in the grass and the flower beds.  Most of the time the Ovenbird was about 25 feet from me, but I did stand up and move closer near the end of my visit.  I took the shots I could get, then just as fast as the birds arrived, they were gone.  We would wait another 20 minutes or so, and back they would come.  I believe I had 4 opportunities to photograph the Ovenbird, once from a lower, almost ground-level, angle.

Not only was it a thrill to capture the Ovenbird, but most of the other songbirds I captured today were lifers as well–even though they are a common sight for folks with feeders who likely see them everyday.  These birds are all seen occasionally at Ridgefield  by birders, but to catch them close enough to get a decent shot, doesn’t happen often at the refuge.

I’m presenting the shots in the order I took them just to mix them up a bit.  I hope you like a shot or two from today’s collection.

I’ll start with a Pine Siskin giving me a sweet pose.   ISO 3200

[As always, please click on the thumbnails to see an enlarged view].



One of my first Ovenbird shots–a lifer.  This bird was always on the ground–I never saw it perched.  This shot captures a glimpse of a small tidbit on the bird’s tongue.  ISO 3200


Here’s another lifer for me, a Townsend’s Warbler on the feeder.  What a gorgeous bird!   ISO 3200

During the lull between bird activity, sometimes this little mouse would come out and go for the leftovers under the feeders.  Here are a couple versions of the shot, the first processed in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and the other left in full color.   ISO 3200


Anna’s Hummingbirds seemed to come to the yard often.    ISO 2000


Another lifer, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee hanging onto the feeder and peeling shells.   ISO 3200

I believe this is a House Finch.   ISO 3200

A male Bushtit poses for me on top of a large Rhododendron bush.   ISO 3200

And further away yet, a Northern Flicker perches in the neighbor’s tree.  This is the Red-shafted variety.   ISO 3200


Here’s the Ovenbird again approaching a brick that was near the patio.   ISO 3200

A different pose by an Anna’s Hummingbird.    ISO 3200

This shy bird, the Varied Thrush, appeared several times and wouldn’t come very close.   ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

Here’s a female House Finch with an apparent infected eye condition.  I Googled it and it may be Conjunctivitis which is easily spread from bird to bird.  Many times, the bird dies of starvation because it loses its sight.  Very sad.    ISO 6400

This bird has a lot more coloring than I would expect to see on a House Finch so could it be a Purple Finch?    ISO 6400

Another shot of the Varied Thrush.    ISO 6400

Here’s a shot of the female Bushtit.  I really liked the pose she gave me here.  ISO 6400



This is the first image of the Ovenbird that I put out on the Internet on my site and on Flickr.  I was surprised to receive an email the other day from the editor of the Warbler Newsletter, asking for my permission to use this image in the March/April issue of the Audubon Society of Portland’s Warbler newsletter.  Of course I said yes!  So I’m hoping to see my picture there soon!           ISO 5000

Here’s the Ovenbird nestled under a fern.    ISO 5000

Another shot of a House Finch with the eye condition.

A ground shot of the Townsend’s Warbler.      ISO 6400

And, a perch shot!    ISO 6400



And I’ll finish with a portrait of the Ovenbird.   ISO 6400

That brings this session of The Blog to a close.  Hope to see you next time everyone!

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 5:45 pm and is filed under The Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Jan. 22, 2013 – Portland, OR – 26 Photos”

  1. Rosanne says:

    I’m a very beginning bird photographer and you are an inspiration! I can see that not only do you get wonderful photos, but you love doing it!

    I’d like to know you took all these photos on a tripod and what speed you took them at. Can’t wait to see your next shoot!

    • Dennis says:

      Hi, Rosanne, thank you for your kind words. Since I was out in the open in this backyard, I stayed sitting in a chair to take these shots, except maybe for the last one. I did have my camera attached to my tripod, set with very short legs. But I didn’t want to be limited by the tripod as I would if it were standing up on all 3 legs so I used it more like I would a monopod. I found that to get a shot of some of these birds, I had to lean certain directions in my chair to get a view, and the tripod still helped to stabilize the camera even though it may have been oriented at an angle (it was rarely standing up straight). The last shot was taken handheld while I was kneeling lower to the ground. As far as shutter speed goes, most were between 1/640 and 1/1000. A few were done at 1/500 and 1/2500. Light was variable depending on cloud cover and location of the bird in the yard. Some larger birds will stand still for you and you can get away with much slower speeds. But small birds are rarely still and using the fastest shutter speed you can will increase your chances of avoiding motion blur.

      If you’ve read other blog posts of mine, you may know that I do most of my shooting from a vehicle and stabilize the camera with bean bags, when possible or appropriate. Use some form of stabilization when you can but don’t hesitate to develop your handheld technique because there will be times when you have no other choice but to handhold. I wish you the best in your bird photography endeavor and don’t hesitate to comment or email me any other questions you might have.

  2. Benoit says:

    Cela fait plusieurs mois que j’admire ton magnifique travail photographique
    Bravo pour toutes ces images de qualité exceptionnelles
    Encore merci pour le bonheur que tu communiques à travers ton travail 🙂 🙂
    PS: le roselin famillier ressemble fort à un “bec croisé des sapins”
    Salutations de Suisse

    • Dennis says:

      Benoit, je suis si heureux de vous entendre! Je vous remercie pour les aimables paroles au sujet de mes photos et mon site. C’est merveilleux de savoir que je vais faire venir un peu de bonheur dans le monde entier pour la Suisse. Merci beaucoup d’avoir lu mon site et je regarde mes photos. J’ai utilisé Google Translate pour écrire cette réponse. J’espère qu’il n’y aura pas trop d’erreurs.

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