I have a number of very good photos of Common Yellowthroats in my files. This one accurately portrays the bird’s typical surroundings.

Yellowthroats, the subject of my photo of the week, spend much of their time bouncing through fields, staying close to the ground as they search for insects to eat. That means the majority of my photographs show the bird against a background — and a foreground — of plants or tangled branches.

And that’s a challenge for a photographer. 

Objects in front of or near a subject of a photo can fool the autofocus mechanism in a camera. I know I’m photographing a bird but the camera thinks I want a leaf or a branch in focus. The trick is to keep the camera’s active focus point over the bird’s eye while tracking the bird’s movement. It’s not easy.

Yellowthroats are warblers. Unlike most other warblers that pass through my “home range” of Central Ohio on their way to breeding grounds in Canada during the spring and en route to winter homes in Central and South America in the fall, the Common Yellowthroat’s summer range covers much of the United States. That means I see — and photograph — yellowthroats during much of the summer.

Male Common Yellowthroats are distinctive.  Their face is covered with a broad black mask, creating a sense of a bandit at work. The males are bright yellow below and olive above. Females are primarily an olive brown with brighter yellow on the throat and under the tail. Females lack the black mask.

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 13, 2015, 10:33 a.m.  
Location: 41°36'47.915" N 83°12'7.055" 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: 250