Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Birds of Lake Belhorn

Before last night's rain (it never got cold enough to freeze), a few hours of sunshine fell at our house here in north Columbus. In the morning, I re-filled the "no-no" sunflower feeder after about a week of near emptiness (the birds never seem to clean it all out). I was hoping that they would "re-discover" the feeder by the afternoon so I could shoot a few closeup shots of native birds, but alas, nothing showed up.

However, Lake Belhorn did provide a few photographic opportunities, and I did not have to leave the house.
Haven't heard of Lake Belhorn? Well, this ephemeral body of water comes and goes. It forms at the end of our driveway during rain and snow events. It is a fairly significant puddle, and birds love to play and drink in its cool waters.
Even northern cardinals occasional come to play and frolic on its banks.
The lake is frequented most, by the English sparrow or house sparrow, Passer domesticus. We have hundreds, if not thousands, in our neighborhood.
Although these birds can be serious pests, they do make interesting photographic subjects, especially for those that live in the city. They make for great practice. My reasoning for taking pictures of these birds goes something like this. If I can take good pictures of house sparrows, shouldn't I be able to get good shots of native birds when the opportunity rises?
I would not want to drink from and bathe in the waters of Lake Belhorn, but the sparrows seem to drink it without any worries. This one looks like it having having a ball washing its face.
Here is some co-ed bathing going on.
And finally, why not invite the whole flock?

House sparrows are fun to photograph. They exhibit interesting behaviors, they are tame, readily approachable, and they thrive near people. Although I enjoy photographing native birds, when nothing else is available, try pointing the camera at a house sparrow and see what you get.


  1. I love your bird photos! What sort of camera do you use? I find it very difficult to get photos of birds here, as they're usually moving about so quickly. I suppose I'm just too lazy to wait in a proper hide!


    David's Nature Photography Gallery

  2. David,

    Bird photography definitely takes a ton of patience. I'm lucky that my neighbors feed the birds seed, and I have a few strategically placed feeders very close to the house where I can shoot through the window.

    I have a digital rebel XTI, which I believe is the 400D in Australia and the Europe.

    Attached to the camera I use a Sigma 70-300 DL II that is about 7-8 years old. It is not the best telephoto there (it is probably the worst!) but I can get pretty good shots once I crop the images.

    I've also had plenty of luck taking photos of birds with one of the superzoom cameras (all the major brands have one) that has optical image stabilization.

    I'd love to see some Australian bird photos. Birds I remember dearly from Australia are: The blue wren, sulphur crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, magpies, kookaburras (they would swoop down and steal our lamb chops in camp), and of course, the magpie.