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“Ozzie” (American Goldfinch, Male, Summer Plumage) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/80s, ISO 640

Whenever I’m out shooting with any of my larger lenses, I invariably end up photographing some of the birds as they make their way about the landscape, snacking on all the free food. Yes, it’s a pretty sweet deal for them. 🙂 

Early this season, we added a thistle feeder with the hope of attracting the goldfinches we’d seen sporting about (those bright yellow feathers are hard to miss!) It took awhile, but I’m happy to report that several families visit the feeder daily and they have gotten used to us so they are no longer spooked by the camera. With their stunning golden plumage, they are not only delightful to watch but always make for a nice subject. 


“Harriet” (American Goldfinch, Female, Summer Plumage) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400m w/1.8x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/50s, ISO 640

I typically prefer to capture birds in a more natural setting (e.g., sitting on a branch or tucked into the trees), but sometimes, you take what you can get. 🙂

Since they habitually land on the curved part of the bracket that holds the feeder before making their way to an open perch, I naturally aimed my camera there. As usual, first to arrive was the male to scope out the situation before calling to the missus, who shortly followed suit. 

Recently, the black-capped chickadees discovered the wonders of the thistle feeder and have been giving the finches a run for their money! Fortunately, all seem to get along. It simply means the feeder gets emptied quicker!

Above the Curve

“Above the Curve” (Black-capped Chickadee) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/50s, ISO 640

This little chickadee seemed to be egging me on and with so much personality, I couldn’t resist!

Mr. Red

“Mr. Red” (Northern Cardinal, Male) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/200s, ISO

I didn’t even realize I had actually captured one shot of the male cardinal until I looked through the media card! Although I do like the natural setting here, it still isn’t quite THE image I’ve been striving for. 

In any event, the cardinal does seem rather pleased with himself, doesn’t he? I think he enjoys this game of tease and fly! And, I suppose, a part of me does as well because, what is the fun of the capture without the thrill of the chase? 🙂



  1. Beautiful images. Love them.

  2. I love these bird captures. I know it’s difficult to get these birds in their natural habitat.

  3. These are wonderful, Tracy. Since there are birds normally seen at feeders, using the staging area is fine. Makes for a great portraits.

    Question, with the teleconverter, do you have to manually focus? I am assuming you are shooting wide open and still getting f/6.7. Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Scott!

      I do not have to manually focus with the teleconverter. The two I have work really well with my Nikon lenses. Yes, they can be slow at times (not good for tracking something moving) but I find if I am in the general area, AF works really well.

      Yes. I am shooting wide open at F/6.7. So, with the teleconverters you do lose light and cannot stop down the full way as you can without them.

  4. I’ve always thought it was quite unfair that male birds get to be the pretty ones! And some very pretty examples you have here. Lately I see birds and just think, I won’t bother to get the camera out because they will be gone by the time I am ready! I think I need to resort to bribery like you do! 😉

    • Yes, it IS so unfair! But, Mother Nature is quite smart as, by design, she wants the females to be camouflaged so they aren’t the target of predators.

      I am soooooo not above bribery! Thanks, Karen! 🙂

  5. I will be in the market for the TC 1.7 next year. I knew the loss of light occurred, wasn’t sure how AF would work. Good to here it will even if a bit slower.

  6. birds are amazing…love the way you catch them.

  7. Ozzie and Harriet are rather charming!

  8. You found some real cuties to model for you! 🙂

  9. These are lovely. We have a family of these goldfinches (as you have now taught me their name) and I love them. It must take great patience and care to get these wonderful shots!

    • So nice that I could solve the mystery for you! They are pretty to look at – I bet your boys think they’re ‘cool’. 🙂

      Thank you! 🙂

  10. That bright yellow plummage on the goldfinch is stunning. Very beautiful too with that soft green background. Love these shots!

    • Thanks so much, Amber!

      Yeah, the male goldie is quite the pretty bird, now isn’t he? 🙂

  11. As always Tracy you’ve captured some great shots there… Real nice indeed…

  12. I am learning so much about birds from your blog, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goldfinch, but I’ll keep looking.

    • Glad to hear that, Lynn!

      Put out thistle (aka, Niger seed) and they will come… 😉

  13. Oh, they are so sweet, these little birds. I wonder how many different different species you are having around you? You are becomming an expert in not only bird photos, but also their habits. Isn´t that a great feeling?

    • Yes, they are, Birgitte!

      We certainly do get alot of winged visitors. The colorful ones are especially captivating but I do like to watch the antics of all the birds. What some lack in color they make up for in personality!

      Thanks! Oh, yes indeed! 🙂

  14. The birds are back! I almost forgot about your soon-to-star-in-a-Hitchcock-film backyard full of birds. 🙂 All of them are wonderful. I love how sharp you get them. I also find it very funny how the cardinals try hard to avoid you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sean! LOVE the Hitchcock reference! 🙂

      Of course, you do. YOU are a guy and I’m sure there is a lot of male energy out there encouraging that cardinal to elude my lens!!

      No worries…my feminine wiles will win out one day. 😉

  15. wow, the male goldfinch has amazing color! and i think the cardinal shot is great. he’s definitely too cool for school.

    • I know! Almost like he should be a bird from colorful Tibet! Thank you, Stephen! 🙂

  16. Beautiful photos…love the yellow bird ,”Ozzie” 🙂

  17. Beautiful birds, lovely shots!
    Funny, I was just thinking this morning that I’d love to be able to see a chickadee in real life – living in the UK, I’ve only ever seen them in photos. And our Goldfinches are a different bird (kind of yellow but kind of not!)

    • Thanks, Val!

      This guy is only once of several chickadees in the US, tho they are all quite similar-looking. I actually have to keep my eye out for the “Carolina Chicakdee” as I may have a few in my landscape and have been confusing them with the Black-capped!

      We all seem to desire what we don’t have. I’ve seen photos of your goldfinch and they are quite lovely, too! 🙂

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By 2011/040: Cardinal « The Daily Click on 02 Apr 2011 at 9:19 am

    […] was trying to take pictures of the falling snow last week, and couldn’t help thinking of Tracy when a red blur flew through my viewfinder and sat down in the neighbor’s tree. I quickly […]

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