Saturday, December 8, 2012

Love The One Your With...Even if it is a Magpie

Adding photography to my birding experiences a couple of years ago caused me to look at even the most common birds in a new way. Ubiquitous House Sparrows, House Finches, Robins, Starlings, and even Magpies became a little more interesting to me as they became excellent subjects for practicing photography.

One day as I was leaving my office I noticed some Magpies foraging for food in the parking lot. My first thought was along the line of Magpies being trashy birds, but my second and third thoughts were along the lines of, "Well, actually that trash came from people and the Magpies are cleaning up after people. So who is really being trashy?"  Almost as quickly as I changed my view of Magpies one of the Magpies walked into a spot where the light from the setting sun turned an otherwise black and white looking bird into a really awesome display of iridescent blues and greens mixed with a fascinating pattern of black and white. I saw the birds in a whole new light-figuratively and literally-and decided to pull out the camera and capture some images to remind me of the experience of seeing something ordinary in a new or extraordinary way--a NeoVista way! 

Below are a few of the images from that day. The words from a popular song came to mind as I was driving away that night. "If you can't be with (or see) the one you love (such as a raptor), love (appreciate) the one your with!"

Black-billed Magpie at RiverPark Business Complex in South Jordan, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
Black-billed Magpies at RiverPark Business Complex in South Jordan, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)

Black-billed Magpie at RiverPark Business Complex in South Jordan, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
Below are a few more images of some very common birds that have presented themselves to me in new ways. Sort of goes along with the theme of "love the one you're with."

I thought this House Finch coordinated well with the colors of the needles on a cactus at Usery Mountain Regional Park near Mesa, AZ.

Male House Finch Coordinating His Colors With the Colors of a Cactus at Usery Mountain Regional Park
Maricopa County, AZ (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
This Robin was flying from a tree along the Jordan River in Sandy, UT during one of my lunch hour walks. It is not a quality photo, but it does present a very common bird in an uncommon pose.

American Robin Flying From a Tree Along the Jordan River in Sandy, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
The House Sparrow below was observed foraging beneath one of my backyard feeders. This image shows how a rather dull looking bird takes on more striking colors of rufous, gray, black, and white as it prepares for breeding season. You can see how the chest is morphing from gray to black. How many times have we overlooked one of these in our search for a more intriguing or rare bird? 

Male House Sparrow Foraging Beneath Backyard Feeder in Pleasant Grove, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
This male is in the middle of taking on its breeding plumage. The rufous, black, gray, and white become more prominent in preparation for breeding season.
Last but not least, the ubiquitous Starling also has some striking patterns and unique behaviors when observed more closely through binoculars and camera lenses.

Hatch-year Starling Still Retaining Juvenile Plumage on Head in Pleasant Grove, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)

European Starling in Breeding Plumage with Yellow Bill in Provo, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
This Starling had bathed just before posing for the photo.
I watched and listened to the bird below for several minutes as it gurgled from the top of a storage unit. The feathers on the throat reminded me of a small burst of fireworks. The white tips seemed like the hot sparks while the dark feathers seemed like the cooler trail left behind each spark.

European Starling Displaying Unique Feather Patterns While Gurgling in American Fork, UT (Photo by Jeff Cooper)
This last image was fun to see when I reviewed my images after returning home from a typical day of birding. I stopped to observe a common bird for a period of time as was rewarded with some unique behavior and a few unique images by which to remember that moment on the side of the road.

European Starling Perched on Locust Tree as Another Starling is Caught Mid-flight in American Fork, UT
(Photo by Jeff Cooper)

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