Interaction between birds.
When I began to photograph birds, if I could get a nice picture of a perched bird, I was satisfied.
That stage didn’t last long. I wanted some action!
Birds are frequently making some kind of sound, either singing or alert calls or the companionable little single note sounds to check in with other birds. I began to focus my attention on taking pictures of birds as they vocalized.
Birds in flight became the next challenge for my budding photographic skills. The larger birds who lazily sore above us are not too difficult to capture but the smaller birds who dart about chasing insects are almost impossible (for me). I still haven’t figured out the best way to take pictures of swallows in flight.
Pictures of birds taking off mostly requires patience. I would focus on the bird and hope to capture it as it took off. Sometimes I was successful.
Getting a photo of a bird landing depends correlates to how easy it is to take a picture of it in flight. My best pictures of little birds landing are when the bird is only taking a little hop. Perhaps that doesn’t actually count as a landing. 😉
Birds with food became my next obsession — especially the raptors because there is a lot more drama associated with a raptor eating a small mammal or bird than with a scrub jay who has found an acorn.
The more recent challenge has been taking photos of birds interacting with each other: mating, grooming or in conflict. That was a challenge because I needed at least two birds to interact!
Below is one of the pictures that I took almost the first day that Katherine and I began to take an interest in birding. We were at Natural Bridges looking for owls and found a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks instead. This shot hooked me on bird photography. It’s not the best shot I’ve taken, but it does have R-rated drama!
In the spring, I’m always on the lookout for birds in the act of starting a family. I was looking for White-tailed Kites when I saw these two Norther Flickers at Joseph D. Grant County Park in San Jose.
Duck sex, like all bird sex I’ve seen, is very quick. That is fortunate for the female (as seen in the below photo).
Along with mating comes, sometimes, grooming. If two birds are paired up, they might groom one or the other or each other. Or, they’ll interact in a way that looks a whole lot like grooming. The Wood Ducks below are an example.
Other types of interaction are less cordial. Like any species, conflict occurs. Defending territory and young are probably the most common reasons for conflict between birds. I often see smaller birds driving larger birds away–presumably from a nearby nest. When the Northern Mockingbirds nested in our backyard during the spring, they were frequently driving away the crows.
I may have thought this brazen American Crow had a nest nearby as it harassed this Red-tailed Hawk. However, this picture was taken in October of 2020, so that was unlikely. As I watched the drama unfold, I saw what seemed more likely: the hawk was trying to eat his breakfast and the crow was hungry.
The American Crow often harasses raptors. Here, a Brewer’s Blackbird is trying to drive away a crow.
Below, a Great Egret defends its nest from another. The cormorant in the nest (lower left) is trying to stay uninvolved.
Two female Northern Harriers engage in an arial dispute over territory.
Birds will, of course, interact with other animals, too. Here, at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, we saw large fish churning up the water near the edge of the creek…much to the annoyance of this female Mallard.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts. Don’t be shy; drop me a line in the comments field. 😀