Posts Tagged ‘wildlife photography’

Prothonotary warbler

June 9, 2009

I filmed a prothonotary warbler last week in Magee Marsh just outside of Toledo, Ohio. It was the tail end of the neotropical migration to Canada. It’s a small yellow bird that lives inside of trees. Like all warblers, they flicker through the branches looking for insects. It’s impossible to predict where they’ll land and nearly impossible to follow them in flight through the trees. Luckily, we found the hole in a tree they used for their nest.

I use a Canon XL-H1 digital video camera with a Canon 16x Manual lens. I prefer the manual lens over the automatic because it forces me to consider all of the optic options that I have available while filming. To increase the long end of the lens, I use a Canon XL 1.6 extender. The birds are very skittish and the closest I can get to the hole in the tree is about 15 feet.  I use a Manfrotto WildTracker 301 tripod. This is the very minimum tripod to use for birds, anything smaller is just too shaky.  The camera was pointed at the nest while I backed off from it about 30 feet and activated the camera with a remote control. We waited 10 minutes before the bird flew into the hole and about 20 minutes before it flew out again.  It’s a fleeting but good shot.

Later we found a Warbling Vireo’s nest. It was much farther away but we used the same procedure with the camera. The nest is very tiny and tucked between branches. One bird sits on the nest while the other eats. We had to wait about 20 minutes for them to exchange places. They sing while sitting on the nest. There would be no way for me to film them without finding the nest. They are too small and never seem to light in any one spot for more than a few seconds.

I’m glad to see more websites dedicated to bird videos. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ is a great example.

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