Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wrapping Up

"Red-breasted Nuthatch"
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)
I cannot remember a post Artisans Road Trip period this busy!  That's a good thing right?!  I'm sure it is.  I feel like the little friends outside the studio window here, scampering about constantly all day long!

I've fed the birds since I was probably 10 years Dad made me my first bird feeder back around 1960.  He set it up on a steel post in the center of the backyard and I was off and running! 

I remember the first bird I photographed on that feeder too.  I set up a burlap blind out near the Mother sewed the blind together for me.  My camera setup was totally manual...I'd purchased the camera with my paper route money after a year of saving every penny.  It was a Practica SLR; I also purchased a Kowa 400mm lens for it.  The close focus range of the Kowa was 29 feet!  Wow...I have a 400mm Sigma today that focuses to 39 inches...what amazing advancements we've made!

29 feet was too far away, especially for tiny birds...even with a 400mm lens; so I also purchased a bellows adapter for the lens.  I don't know if you know what that'd look like but it was unwieldy as all get-out!  The belows adapter is a cloth bellows on a slides back and forth for focusing, allowing much closer focusing distances.  My Dad also got me a used tripod and luckily so...this setup would have been impossible without a tripod.  I'm thinking the whole setup would have been somewhere between 20-24 inches in length or longer!

"White-breasted Nuthatch"
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

The first bird on the feeder to be recorded by this awkward setup was a White-breasted Nuthatch.  Not too long afterward, one drizzly fall day, I photographed another nuthatch, a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  None of the images on this page are from those early Kodachromes though, these are from out the studio window and in the yard.   

"Red-breasted Nuthatch (Galloping up the tree)"
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a northern bird which usually only visits here in the winter months...not usually every year but fairly often.  I love both of these little guys, they are very friendly.

I've been asked what I feed the birds here...almost exclusively dark oil sunflower seed (for the Nuthatches, all woodpeckers, all finches, Blue Jays, Chickadees, and various ground feeding winter migrants), Niger thistle seed (for the finches) and suet cakes (everyone loves them!). 

Any type feeder works and I refuse to worry about the squirrels, I love watching them too!  A tray feeder with a hardware cloth mesh is a good one because a lot of the seed will slip through and feed the ground feeding birds (like Juncos and Tree Sparrows).  I also like the newer heavy wire basket type feeders, because they last so long...the old tube type feeders work great too but stay away from the all-plastic ones, you'll replace them every year or so most of the time.

The biggest mistake I see with people who "struggle" with feeding birds is they do not keep it up...they'll fill the feeders and forget to tend to them afterward.  Often seed will spoil or get soaked - that needs to go...eventually the birds visiting will go elsewhere. Also be aware Niger seed spoils fairly easily - I've seen perfectly dry seed go rancid...after a few trys, the birds will leave it alone.  If you see no one feeding for a week or so - dump your seed and start over.  Feeding birds isn't for the faint of heart though - this stuff costs 5 times more than it did 20 years ago!!!!!  I refuse to keep track of what bird feeding costs is just something I enjoy and that's all there is to that discussion!  If that's a factor for you - don't bother!  (Send them over here!)

Its funny, I didn't start this blog to talk about bird feeding, but there you have it!  But I do feel like I need to slow down here in the studio soon and get back to painting!  Let the little birds out the window keep up their frenetic pace...I need a break!!!!!!


Birding Bunch said...

I am afraid to see how much we spend on feeding the birds. :) This year one of our neighbors only fed the birds a short bit, our other neighbor has feeders up, but he's also got a colony of feral cats. :( So we have had a lot of bird activity here. And with an average of 50 Redpolls a day, the sock feeders need to be filled often.

Do you still have those early photos? That is nice your parents were so accommodating, so you can feed and photograph the birds.

Prairie Painter said...

I quit watching the birdfood costs need to spoil the enjoyment of feeding.

You had an extremely good Redpoll year! The most we had this year at one time was two; we did have one show up occasionally all winter though. I wonder why it was such a good Redpoll year? That doesn't happen very often.

Yes, I do still have a few old shots from the early 1960's...the equipment is long gone though!