Let’s say you’re mesmerized by the little sparrows, the LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs), and want to get a good picture of one. The Grasshopper Sparrow is a bit difficult because they lurk around out of sight and are more often heard than seen. However, during courting season, they hop up as high as they dare on a plant and briefly sing their little hearts out, the hop back down and lurk.
One day I was walking around in a nice field and was hearing the little boogers here and there, and rarely saw one pop up. So, I made a plan. The next morning was going to be calm and cloudless, so I grabbed my camera and dog first thing and headed out to the field. I scouted for the finest looking Butterweed and composed the picture with a nice blurry background and a sharp flower. Then, my pup and I sat down and waited a few minutes until everything calmed down. Then, I pulled out my secret weapon … a cd player!
I had a recording of a Grasshopper Sparrow and played it briefly. Sure enough, a sparrow popped up on a Butterweed and sang and popped down. Of course, it wasn’t the flower I was pointed at, but that didn’t matter. I was in his territory and by god he was going to pop up on all of the appropriate Butterweeds and make his case. I was pointing at the best Butterweed so I knew that eventually he would be there. Sure enough, within a half hour I had a number of pictures of him telling me to leave … which I did.
The funny thing is, they don’t tend to go to the very top of the plant like some birds do. They stay just below the top, presumably to not be seen and eaten. I have a number of shots of him within the flower and hidden. The one above was about the only one where he could be clearly seen singing.
Each bird takes it’s own technique to get a good picture, which I think is the fun thing about shooting birds!