Posts Tagged ‘Barn Swallow’

Although it is usually best not to take head-on shots of birds, I can’t help but post this image of a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) looking at me with angry eyes. I don’t know if the swallow qualifies as an Angry Bird, but there is no denying the intensity of the stare.

I grew up with the music of Loggins and Messina and one of their popular songs entitled “Angry Eyes”  opens with these words:

Time, time and again
I see you staring down at me
Now, then and again
I wonder what it is that you see

With those angry eyes
Well, I bet you wish you could cut me down
With those angry eyes

(Lyrics from www.elyrics.net)

What does go on in the minds of barn swallows when they encounter us?


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I hadn’t intended to do a head-and-shoulders portrait of this Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), but my telephoto zoom was near the far end when I carefully placed my tripod on the boardwalk and focused on the swallow.

Sensing that the bird was not going to remain perched for very long, I quickly snapped off a few exposures. My left hand was adjusting the ballhead of my tripod and my right hand was pressing the shutter, so zooming out was not really an option at that moment. The image that you see is as much of the bird as I was able to capture.

I did manage to get some good detail in the eye (and I recommend clicking on the photo for a higher resolution view) and I am happy with the background, which once again looks like a studio setting—it may not be very exciting, but it sure is uncluttered.

I suppose that the lesson for me is to have my camera fully adjusted as I am sneaking up on birds, but sometimes “mistakes” turn out pretty well too.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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With the arrival of blue skies, I was finally able to a close-up shot of a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) with a natural backdrop (vice the white background of the overcast days).

The lighting was beautiful and the swallow cooperated by turning its head slightly, enabling me to capture the catch light in its eye. The shadows are pretty minimal, but help to keep the image from being too flat.

I even like the serious expression on the swallow’s face, as though he had decided that this was a formal portrait.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Are Barn  Swallows normally hostile toward each other?

As I was looking over once more the shots that I took on Monday, I came across this little series of images of two Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) interacting. I had passed over these photos when I did my first sorting, because they were seriously underexposed. Unlike the photo that I posted earlier this week of a confrontation between two swallows, I was not using a flash for these photos, which meant, however,  that I was able to take a burst of photos. (When I used my pop-up flash, I had to wait for the flash to re-cycle in order to shoot again.)

I tweaked these photos in Photoshop Elements (and cleaned up the background a little) and was amazed to discover that this confrontation seems to have escalated a bit beyond the previous one. The flying swallow seems much more aggressive and threatening, going beyond the squawking I had seen before, and looking more like he was ready to attack the sitting swallow, who seems to be paying attention to the incoming bird.

These photos would have been better with a higher shutter speed and better light, but I am amazed that I was able to capture this moment. I love interactions between members of the same species (and between different species) and I enjoy trying to catch those moments.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Here’s a photo of the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) that I took today just prior to the confrontation that I featured in my previous blog entry. The sky was almost completely white, because the day was heavily overcast, and it totally disappeared when I was adjusting the RAW image.

This was one of the first times that I used flash to add a little light and bring out the colores and it seems to have worked out pretty well. Some of the more dedicated bird photographers that I see use a Fresnel lens attachment for their external flash units to give more reach to the flash—I am not sure that I am ready to go that far yet.

I managed to get a pretty good amount of detail in this shot, even capturing some of the raindrops on the swallow’s wing.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was focusing my camera on a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) perched on a branch, when out of nowhere another Barn Swallow appeared and started screeching as it hovered in midair. Fortunately I had enough presence of mind to press the shutter release.

It was raining most of the day and I was shooting one-handed under an umbrella much of the time. For this shot, I decided to use the built-in flash on my camera to add a little additional light. The reflections in the screeching bird’s eyes add to its almost maniacal look.

The bird on the branch was totally impassive. It turned its head toward the hovering bird, but did not appear to react in any other way.

The overall feel of the image is almost like a cartoon.  I really like the way it came out (and recognize that it was mostly luck and fortunate timing).


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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