Waxwing and branches


Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite birds to photograph, but I don’t have all that many photos of Waxwings in my collection. Even though Waxwings are somewhat common in this area, I don’t see them that often when I’m out with my camera. And when I do see one, the active nature of Waxwings makes them a bit difficult to photograph. They don’t perch in one spot for very long.

Waxwings, the subject of my photo of the week, are definitely distinctive birds, with their shiny, silky feathers of brown, gray, yellow and black, topped off by a black mask that makes the birds look like they are dressed for a formal costume ball. Waxwings stand tall when perched, with their crest swept back stylishly above their black mask. Wing feathers have waxy red tips (that’s where Waxwings get their name) and tail feathers are tipped with yellow.

This was a somewhat difficult shot. The waxwing was surrounded by small branches, both in the foreground and background. The autofocus on the camera can be fooled into focusing on a branch instead of the bird if the photographer isn’t careful. I was able to get about a dozen shots of this bird before it flew off and I tried to keep focused on its eye as it turned frequently on the limb. Three shots were out of focus. All three followed a sudden turn by the bird, causing the camera to grab focus on one of the limbs in the background. That happens. But I had enough in-focus shots to give me a choice.

I like how the tangle of branches frames the bird as it faces the morning sun. The waxwing’s creamy brown feathers stand out against the green background.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.


Date/time: May 23, 2015, 10:20 a.m.  
Location: 40°6’44.471” N 82°57’31.151” W (Show in Google Maps)  
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II  
Lens: Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter: 1/1250th second
ISO: 1000