Stuck in chickadee school

_T6C2555I have had a complicated relationship with chickadees.

It all started years ago when they freaked me out by flying right by my head. This was completely unnerving after watching every other living creature scatter at the sight of my shadow.

I thot I must be too close to a nest and they were dive-bombing me. When moving around didn’t change anything, I figured out they were just being friendly.

Once we resolved that issue, I had to get over the fact they would regularly mock me by landing on my long lens while I was trying to take their photos. I even have a photo. Lessons in humility are even more powerful when coming from the smallest creatures.

_T6C2550Chickadees have become regular escorts when I head to a local lake, but I noticed that I didn’t have a nice photo of them. I have often tried, but I always know I can catch them another day. Besides, they are small and ridiculously fidgety. If chickadee psychiatrists ever start subscribing Ritalin, I’m buying shares in whoever sells it!

I generally have about 0.8 second to find, focus and photograph a bird that is smaller than many branches it’s flying around. In addition, it has white and black feathers that usually stretch the limits of normal exposure. However, it’s entirely possible these are just my issues.

The other day the light was nice and the predators were all playing hard to get. As usual, my chickadee friends showed up to play. This quickly drove me a bit batty since I always seemed to be one branch behind while following them with my lens. But then something different happened – I was pretty sure I got a reasonable photo!

I have often said I’d rather be lucky than good – it sounds easier. I certainly felt lucky that day despite a memory card loaded with fuzzy branches. But it occurred to me that all those hours of practice, learning photography and being there at the right time of day were still a factor. In order to get those lucky shots, I needed to be good enough in order for luck to make any difference. Good grief, the chickadees are still teaching me about wildlife photography!

When will I ever graduate from chickadee school?

_T6C2532

Advertisements

Latest Comments

  1. nliakos says:

    I loved the chickadee photo on the Dec 7 post and came here to read about chickadee school. Beautiful! I remember how my uncle used to feed the chickadees from his hand at his weekend home in West Nyack, NY, when I was a little girl. We have Carolina chickadees here in the Washington DC area. We love to watch them visit the basket of seed hanging outside the kitchen window, politely take a single sunflower seed and retreat elsewhere to consume it. So much nicer than the birds who invade the basket, throw seeds and shells all over the ground and don’t want to let anyone else have a turn.

    Like

  2. artsifrtsy says:

    I totally missed this post. Chickies are one of my favorites, they mock me when I am mowing and rush me when I am filling the feeders. They can really scold you too. They will make nest in just about any container. A small friend with a big personality. Great shots!

    Like

  3. gingeralicia88 says:

    Beautiful pictures! And oh so cute! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post!

    Like

  4. Kavita Joshi says:

    nice shots dear….

    Like

  5. rickbraveheart says:

    These images are absolutely stunning Lyle. The “sharp as a tack” comment that us photographers often say when shots are perfectly focused doesn’t even apply here. These images are so exceptional and have captured not only the sharp detail and texture but convey a feeling of them in their natural surroundings I feel like I could reach out toward the screen and touch them. I know that shots like this take patience, legwork and talent and it certainly shows in this work. Well done!

    Like

  6. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    That last shot is a marvel – and these guys are among my favorite birds. So charming.

    Like

  7. John says:

    Sweet little birds which are very quick making them difficult to capture.
    Excellent Shots. Wonderful Light and Detail.

    Like

  8. janina says:

    I hope you never graduate….they are cute, aren’t they!

    Like

  9. MC says:

    Watch this Chickadee bird in Bermuda

    Like

  10. Pierre Cenerelli says:

    Yes, in spite of their extreme friendliness, they are indeed hard to “catch,” but you have done a most excellent job, I must say. One of these days, I should post a couple of photos I was lucky to get of these small but fascinating creatures. Although they have not yet landed on my lens or my head, some Canada Jays did both things to me when I was taking pictures of them last July, up on Blackcomb Mountain in B.C.

    Like

  11. joserasan66 says:

    Muy Buena Serie, La Última Fotografía Es Impresionante… Un Saludo.

    Like

  12. livliveslife says:

    It might seem silly, but chickadees are my absolute favorite birds. There’s something so happy and innocent about them that I just love (although, after reading about your dive-bombing incident, maybe I’m wrong!).

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I can certainly see the appeal of those friendly little guys. They are happy, innocent and generally want to hang out! The dive-bombing was actually a completely wrong assumption on my part before I got to know them. They were probably trying to land on me but since they were flying so close (and they are so quick), I thot they were trying to scare me off. Once I understood them better, I realized they were just being friendly. Such a difference from other birds!

      Like

  13. mflahertyphoto says:

    Well said re the smallest creatures teaching us. That last photo is quite unique, a great capture.

    Like

  14. petbreederconnection says:

    What a sweet post. I love chickadees, because if I could actually figure out how to post a picture within this comment, I would show you my picture of the baby chickadee learning to fly off my finger. And I would agree, the last photo is my favourite as well.

    Like

  15. doraiswamyganesh says:

    Dear friend , I have never seen such cute and lovely birds so far. The last photograph showing the cute little cuddley as if the bird is on a swing has really fascinated me on you skill in shooting beautiful pictures.All said and done they are indeed lovely pictures.Regards, Ganesh.

    Like

  16. FeyGirl says:

    Funny relationship…. 🙂 And such wonderful shots of these adorable guys. I too love that last composition — just lovely!!

    Like

  17. Phil Lanoue says:

    I enjoyed seeing these cute little guys. Last photo especially is a real stunner.

    Like

  18. Ian Beattie says:

    amazingly cute

    Like

  19. soonie2 says:

    Aww, how can you not love these little birds! Such spectacular images!

    Like

  20. caleephotography says:

    You’ve graduated with honors! These pictures are fantastic! I bow to you m(_ _)m

    Like

  21. melodylowes says:

    I hereby acknowledge your mastery of the chickadee lesson – I have been fretting about their ADD tendencies and finally got one shot this weekend – nothing at all to compare with yours. That last one is absolutely priceless. I hadn’t noticed how freakishly busy they are until I tried getting a shot of them, myself. Interesting, as you say, what nature can teach us even after all these years of observing and living…

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I may not be the quickest study on these things but eventually they become obvious. I like the last one the best as well. Now I hope I don’t forget whatever it is I learned!

      Like

  22. rachel bar says:

    “There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.”- Samuel Johnson

    Like

  23. ehkstream says:

    My relationship with chickadees became intimate at an early age. Sticking an arm out my bedroom window into bitter cold; palm up cradling sunflower seeds I waited in shivering innocence for them to trust. The feeling of sharp nails into nearly frost bitten fingers was unexpected, and will never be forgotten.
    Beautiful photo of Master Chickadee, head tilted awaiting response from the class…

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      What a great childhood story – those are the kind you don’t forget. I like the head tilted awaiting response from the class – the class is definitely in session.

      Like

  24. Stefano says:

    Great shots, Lyle (the second one is my favorite) and as usual a fun post to read 🙂

    Like

  25. Mike Powell says:

    I too have chased after the elusive chickadee, but have not yet tasted the fruits of victory by producing the kind of amazing images that you featured in this post. It’s hard enough to focus on the body of such a small, swift bird, but you managed to get the eyes in sharp focus (and with catch lights too).

    As is frequently the case, you shared an important lesson about photography that really resonates with me. Your awesome photos and wonderful storytelling ability may have caused some folks to miss it, but the following sentence stood out for me like it was written in neon lights, “In order to get those lucky shots, I needed to be good enough in order for luck to make any difference.” Only a fool would deny that luck plays an important role in photography, especially wildlife photography. Although luck is a necessary condition, however, it is not sufficient–you still need skill and lots of practice to hone those skills.

    Of course, you’ve also left me thinking about Ritalin for chickadees, but that’s a different issue with which to deal…

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I appreciate your thotful comments as always. There is an interesting interplay between skill and luck. It’s hard to know exactly where one ends and the other takes over. But of course it usually only gets analyzed when I don’t get the shot or even find wildlife.

      Like

  26. hannele says:

    heh, great post, as usual. 🙂 the second photo is my favourite, but they’re all really good.

    i’m sorry to say, but you might never graduate… on the other hand, it’s great to keep learning! i find it inspiring and humbling to have the smallest of creatures teach us things. like, us ground-dwelling apes aren’t as cool as we think we are (but we’re pretty cool).

    Like

  27. Cornel A. says:

    L O V E L E Y photos!!!
    We have here many Great Tits (Parus major) and sometimes some Blue Tits.
    The third one is stunning!

    Like

  28. The Earth Beneath My Feet says:

    Lovely post Lyle – they are gorgeous little things – like a cottonball with tailfeathers!

    Like

  29. Kyle Kuns says:

    I share the ability to take fuzzy branch photos which makes me really appreciate what you were able to achieve in this batch. Nice work!

    Like

  30. Gunta says:

    Great shots! and they are simply too cute. That last head-on shot is simply amazing.

    Like

  31. niasunset says:

    How lovely little birds… Your photographs are amazing too. Thank you, love, nia

    Like

  32. Seenorway says:

    Or perhaps you were dangerously close to their nesting place?

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      That’s a reasonable assumption and I certainly thot it was the case at the beginning. However, after being in the general area many times, I have noticed that they tend to follow me around and gently land near or even on me. I have been dive-bombed by other birds but this is definitely different.

      Like

  33. rprtphoto says:

    They’re darling, Lyle. Those little round balls of feathers look like they could be Christmas tree ornaments!

    And they only mock you b/c they know you’re up to the challenge! 😉

    RPRT Photo

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. Christmas tree ornaments – that’s a different take! Yes I’m still up for the challenge, because I enjoy it so by your theory the mocking will continue.

      Like

I'd love to hear what you are thinking ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s