American Bushtit (male) | Mésange buissonnière | Psaltriparus minimus: Taken in Queen Elisabeth Park on the Seawall in West Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on May 8, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 400 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1250), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.
American Bushtit (female) | Mésange buissonnière | Psaltriparus minimus: This female was accompanied by a male and both were busily looking for nesting material. These birds build amazing pouch-like nest; to see some great photos of these, take a look at the following post on Jim Martin’s blog (CrazyM Bird & Nature Photography).
Taken in the dog park next to the Spirit Trail at Harbourside, North Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, on March 28, 2016, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 720 | 410mm | f/5.6 | 1/1000), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up.
Bushtit or American Bushtit (Male) | Mésange buissonnière | Psaltriparus minimus: Taken March 6, 2016, in the Kits Point neighbourhood of Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada, with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (ISO 400 | 500mm | f/5.6 | 1/1250), cropped for composition. Not baited, called in or set up (although a photographer had previously placed seeds on the ground to attract birds).
Today’s instalment of the bird photos I’ve taken over the past few months features a photo essay of one of the smallest birds found in the Metro Vancouver area, the Bushtit* (Mésange buissonière / Psaltriparus minimus) – only hummingbirds are smaller, in fact. (*Outside of North America, this bird is known as the American Bushtit.)
These birds almost always travel in flocks of about 10-40 birds, except around nesting time, when you may only see a pair together. In the winter months, flocks are especially large and are easy to spot because the birds twitter quite loudly; seeing their acrobatics on impossibly small twigs and leaves can be quite entertaining! Another peculiarity of this bird is that eye colour is the only way to reliably tell the sexes appart in the field: The males have a dark brown eye, while the female’s is a striking yellow.
The following photos were taken in February 2015 – exact location, date and photo specifications are included at the very end:
All photos taken with a handheld Nikon D5200 and AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. None of these birds were baited, called in or set up. Specific details for each photo are as follows…
- Female taken at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus (UBC), February 11, 2015: ISO 1600 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/200.
- Male taken at UBC, February 11, 2015: ISO 1600 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/125.
- Male taken in Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada on February 21, 2015: ISO 400 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/1000.
- Female taken in Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada on February 21, 2015: ISO 720 / 300mm / f5.6 / 1/1000.
I took this photo of a male Bushtit eating a green caterpillar (so it’s not a worm, but “wormy” not only sounds better that “caterpillary,” it’s actually a word) a few days ago in Jericho Park. The lighting was far from optimal and the focus of the eye is not perfect, but I like taking and showing these photos of birds going about their business.
I haven’t been posting much recently, so I thought I would post this photo I took today at UBC Vancouver. This male Bushtit was busily getting food and materials for the nest it was building with its mate. As you can see, the leaves are just about to sprout and Vancouver will once again show off its resplendent spring colours!
The past couple of weeks have been quite interesting for me when it comes to capturing certain elusive species on camera. Perhaps the mild winter here, combined with the harsh conditions elsewhere, have pushed a larger number of birds than usual in our region. Or maybe I just forget each winter that there comes a time when we simply see a large quantity of birds in the Lower Mainland. Be that as it may, I have been fortunate to get some decent (not great, but good) photos of several small (and one very large) species.
My faithful readers have already seen some photos of one of the biggest (Bald Eagle – here), one of the smallest (Anna’s Hummingbird – here and here) and one of the most penguin-like (Pigeon Guillemot – here) birds in this part of the world, but I recorded a few other birds along the way and would like to share a few of these shots with you today.
This first shot is of one of my favourite passerines in British Columbia, the Varied Thrush (en français : Grive variable | Scientific name: Ixoreus naevius):
The next shot is of a bird that can be very difficult to get on film in this area because it is normally found close to the top of our very tall trees: The Ruby-crowned Kinglet (en français : Roitelet à couronne rubis | Scientific name: Regulus calendula). But this one agreed to hang around my camera just long enough for me to take a few pictures, including this one:
And here is its close cousin, the Golden-crowned Kinglet (en français : Roitelet à couronne dorée | Scientific name: Regulus satrapa):
The following bird might be hard to spot at first because it blends so well in the tree trunks that it creeps along in other to find a prodigious amount of insects, namely the Brown Creeper (en français : Grimpereau brun | Scientific name: Certhia americana):
I was also managed to capture a few Bushtits (en français : Mésange buissonnière | Scientific name: Psaltriparus minimus) in action, descending upon a few trees in flocks of 30-50 birds busily eating whatever they can find:
And finally, here is a bird that is barely bigger than the previously mentioned hummingbird, the Pacific Wren (en français : Troglodyte du Pacifique | Scientific name: Troglodytes pacific us), which makes up for it diminutive size by having an impressive call and song that make it sound much bigger than it is:
As the title suggests, I will publish a second posting with a few more photos. Please visit my blog on Tuesday morning…
This week’s “D50 Archives” feature puts the spotlight on one of my favourite small brown birds, the Bushtit (en français : Mésange buissonnière | Scientific name: Psaltriparus minimus).
Although the photo at the top needed a greater amount of tweaking than usual to compensate for the lousy background light, I quite like the result. We can clearly see the female’s yellow eye and the texture of its feathers, not to mention the delicate cherry blossoms. These birds are quite hard to capture on camera and so I have only managed to take a few good pictures over the years.
This is an interesting species in that they tend to flock around in large “gangs” of 30 or more birds, that constantly chatter at each other while they look for food. Another interesting fact about this bird is the way you can distinguish the male from the female: As you can see below, the male has a dark eye, while the female’s is yellow (see above).
I thought I would post this photo of one of my favourite “small, plain bird[s],” to quote Roger Tory Peterson. At first, given the strong backlighting, I thought this photo would not turn out well at all. But thanks to a little help from iPhoto, I was able to tweak it just enough to allow you to see a fair amount of detail, including the female’s striking yellow eye (the male’s is black). And although much of the background detail was sacrificed, it is still possible to see some of the cherry tree’s lovely and delicate blossoms.
Hello dear reader: I thought I would post a couple of pictures of a bird that is in nondescript, but stands out nonetheless, especially since they travel in “gangs” of 30 or more, the Bushtit. It it is one of the few birds where male and female can be distinguished only by the difference in the eye colour. Outside of mating season, the sexes seem to travel together. Last winter, I mainly saw females, while this year featured almost exclusively males.