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The Almost Mid-Week Pause

March 24, 2015
Brown-headed Cowbird

© jmillerphoto.com – Browh-headed Cowbird

I admit it.  I’m blogging tonight because I have two something else’s to do but I can’t quite get the courage to do them.  Yep, I’m procrastinating.  Because, as a wise man once said: “Hard work pays off eventually.  Procrastination pays off now.”

My Mondays have me on a bit of a spiritual journey for the next 8 months.  Not at all photographically related.  It actually predates my photographic pursuits by maybe 5 years.  A bit of getting back to my roots if you will.  But unfortunately that journey is after my work day and gets me home fairly late. As a direct result, my Tuesdays drag.

So I am starting out this evening avoiding that which I’ll have to tackle eventually and instead I’m spending some time with an image of one of the villains of the Texas bird scene:  The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater).  These not-so-fine-fowl are the scourge of nests all across this great country, but they seem to be especially voracious here in Texas.

Their crime: In fancy/accurate words they are “Obligate Brood Parasites.”  In more plain, but still accurate words, they are Nest Robbers.  The females lay their eggs in the nest of an unsuspecting host bird’s nest, and then those parents end up trying to raise it and their young, usually at the death of the hosts’s babies and sometimes also at the death of the parent birds.  One female can lay 6-8 eggs per breeding season.

Human activity over the last half-dozen generations or so have actually caused these birds to swell in numbers, to the detriment of other song birds.

In Texas it is legal to trap these birds to reduce their numbers.  Doing so has helped the native song birds and put somewhat of a dent in their increasing population.

But this blog is usually about photography.  And these birds are sometimes nearly as tough to make images of as it is to stymie their populations.  The iridescence of their black feathers can play havoc on exposure meters.  Heck, just the deep black can cause problems hitting the right exposure.  Backlighting is nearly impossible to fix.  They never seem to get where you want them, and gosh darn it there are often so many of them that you can’t isolate them.

On this shot, I got a good pose, but at full size I didn’t completely hit the focus point.  I did much better with an image at Crescent Bend Nature Park which I have posted to Flickr.  I may be able to do something more with this image, but I’m not holding my breath.

Maybe that is just a way of telling me that I need to get back to what I’m supposed to be doing.  Hard work pays off eventually…

About the Image:
Our fine-feathered friend was shot with the Standard Gear with camera settings of ISO 400, 1/200 sec at f/8.  It took a little work with the mid-tones and the shadows get the lighting the way I wanted.  Slightly off focus will probably doom this to the “Nice try, Jim,” pile.  Shot during this weekend’s blind test shots.

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