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Posts Tagged ‘Hirundo rustica’

Every spring, Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) build a nest on the underside of a raised observation platform at Huntley Meadows Park. It is always  a lot of fun to watch these energetic little dynamos flying about, catching insects in mid-air. Fortunately this one came to rest for a moment on the metal railing of the platform and I was able to capture this image of a colorful Barn Swallow.

 

Barn Swallow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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At this time of the year many birds seem to hide behind the leaves of the trees, but this Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) was cooperative early one recent morning and perched at several spots out in the open. Click on any of the images to see them all in slide show mode.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Tree Swallows have been flying about for several weeks, but it was only this weekend that I finally observed one of their multi-colored brethren, the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). Last year, the Barn Swallows built a nest underneath a raised observation platform of the boardwalk at my local marsh, and it looks like they are doing the same thing this year.

I was able to photograph this swallow as it perched on a small branch coming out of the water directly opposite the platform. The sky was mostly overcast during the day, which caused the reflections in the water to look mostly white. As I made a few adjustments to the image, the background essentially disappeared, resulting in a photo that looks almost like it was shot in a studio.

I really like the swallow’s serious pose and the fact that I was able to capture its signature swallow tail. It won’t be long before I see swallowtails on some of my favorite butterflies.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I don’t usually think of photographing birds with a macro lens, but that’s exactly what I did when I encountered this Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) perched on a small branch, with a beautiful blue sky in the background.

Of course, I probably should note that the macro lens in question is 180mm in focal length, so it has good telephoto capability—I had just never tried to use it in that way. My experience photographing birds this past winter suggests that this lens does not have enough reach for most birds.  I was really happy, though, with the detail it was able to capture in this situation, when I was standing almost directly below the bird.

Mentally it was an adjustment to be shooting with a prime lens and I had to keep reminding myself that if I wanted to adjust the composition, I had to change my position and move closer or farther away. That’s probably a good thing to remember when I am using a zoom lens, which has a tendency to make me a little lazy.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I watch Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) flying, I am amazed at their aerial acrobatic skills. They change direction in such unpredictable ways and swoop up and down so quickly that I thought that I would never be able to capture them in flight.

However, one day this past weekend I spent some time observing them more closely and eventually I decided to try to get some in-flight shots. Most of my shots were either blurry or the swallow was only partially visible in the frame, but I was able to get a few decent (or at least recognizable) shots of a swallow swooping down over the water.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What happened to this swallow to cause it to be so drab looking? That was my first thought when I looked at these images.

The bird was perched at a location where I had previously seen a lot of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica), but it looked more like a Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor). However, all of the Tree Swallows that I have seen before have been a shiny bluish-green in color. Was this a different kind of sparrow?

It turns out that the answer to my mini-mystery is quite simple—juvenile Tree Sparrows are not the same color as the adults. I guess that I had been assuming that the young Tree Sparrows would be miniature versions of their parents.

The little swallow seemed quite content to pose for me and allowed me to get profile shots and head-on shots without any instructions. Perhaps a modeling career is in its future.

swallow1_blogswallow2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I captured this close-up image of a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) as it rested on a perch a short distance from the location of its nest, underneath a raised portion of the boardwalk at my local marshland park.

I have posted a number of close-up shots of Barn Swallows in the last few weeks (including one that I entitled Too Close), but this one is distinctive for a couple of reasons. The swallow is in the midst of working on its nest, and the mud and twigs in its bill show clearly its primary building materials. Most of my other photos have showed a swallow posing as it took a break from chasing insects.

The other notable feature of this image that I really like is its narrow depth of field. Although I included the sparrow’s entire body in the shot, only a small part of it is in sharp focus, essentially the forward half of its head, including the one visible eye. I think that the limited area of sharp focus really helps to draw attention to the eye and to the muddy bill.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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