Wren watching


Many birds fit into a broad “difficult to photograph” category.

Then there are wrens, a bird that ranks well beyond difficult and the subject of my photo of the week.

Wrens are small — about five inches in length from the tip of their long, curved bill to the tip of their tail — and in constant motion, two factors that make a wren photograph more luck than skill, at least for me.

There are only two bird species that are more difficult for me to photograph: Brown Creepers, a wren-sized bird that constantly spirals up tree trunks; and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a four-inch long bird that moves constantly through foliage, seldom providing a clear view for photographers.

But I keep trying.

I found this Carolina Wren hopping between plants in the wetlands at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge near Hilton Head Island, S.C. The bird was in constant motion but I knew from past attempts to photograph wrens that they tend to repeat the same path around their territory. So I held my position and watched this area. About five minutes after the bird left my sight it reappeared, following a similar route as before. So I grabbed a couple of shots.

I liked how the brightly lit background was reduced to a smooth yellow, helping to isolate the bird and the dead plants that framed it. The bird would have been lost in a photo with a busier background.

Carolina Wrens are a bit brighter the other wren varieties in the Eastern United States. The back and wings are a warm reddish brown as opposed to the dull brown of the House Wren and other similar varieties. The chest and underside are a buffy orange. The long white eyebrow makes it easy to identify.

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: Jan. 31, 2017, 8:32 a.m.  
Location: 32°14’31.601” N 80°46’29.148” 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: 2500