After talking about Little Green Jobs , I guess we’ll have to give equal time to the Little Brown Jobs. Ever try to video a singing Bewick’s Wren?
Me neither until last spring, while walking in Campbell Valley Park, BC.
I heard a song nearby, (common) and then spotted the culprit, (rare!)
Hmm, a small bird, a wren, maybe? I cheated and played a Pacific Wren song from my phone – nothing. Then I tried a Bewick’s Wren call and suddenly my bird was flying around answering the call, (swooping perilously close to my left ear on one occasion!)
Yup, I had discovered a Bewick’s Wren. At one point I thought my phone was still playing, but no, it was my Bewick friend, calling back.
A frustrating 20 minutes ensued as I tried to photograph him flitting from perch to perch. But I did it – well, just. Over the next few months I’ve had a couple of more “Bewick’s encounters” – WAY safer than grizzly encounters – and managed to get some OK shots.
Bewick’s Wrens are small and live here year round. They hang around in low, thick scrub and eat a diet of small insects, eggs and some seeds. They stay low down, rarely feeding above 3 meters. They are hyper and if you see one, you gotta be fast to get a photo.
In previous posts, I have discussed how learning bird-calls was my next big hurdle. Well, as of now I can often recognize when someone different is in the area. I can’t recognize the bird usually, but “it’s a start, brother!”
Sometimes I’ll hear something once and that’s it, but five minutes of patience and watching sometimes reveals a bird. If I have a hunch, I’ll play the appropriate song/call and wait. At Blackie Spit recently, using this “strategy”, (I sound like a big game hunter!)
I saw a Bewick’s wren, Goldern-crowned Kinglet and Scarlet-crowned Kinglet all within a 10 minute span. There were other birds of course, eg House Finches, different Sparrows and Towees, but I’m becoming a real birding snob now and they don’t count!
So I’ve made a bit of progress with calls. I’ve been with people who will stop suddenly and say “wait, that’s a pair of Golden-crowned kinglets.” I’d love to have that ear, but as of now, “that ain’t me babe!”
Interestingly, there is some debate about “luring” birds with artificial calls. I think the consensus is that as long as it’s used sparingly, not for nefarious purposes, (wren pie anyone?), or putting the bird in obvious danger, (“here ,hawky hawky”), it’s OK. Many birding guides use them all the time.
For Bird enthusiasts: I am using the MERLIN BIRD ID app on my iPhone to play birdsong.
Other birding articles by Colin Rankin that you may enjoy:
Wildlife in Antarctica – a Photographer’s Dream! (Penguins)
What Makes The Falkland Islands Worth Visiting? (Albatross, penguins, caracaras)
Costa Rica – Finding your Inner Bird!
A Cluster of Buntings (Lasuli and Snow Buntings)
A Pleasant Surprise (The Cape May Warbler)
Birding Rio Lagartos (Mexico Birds)
“Keepers” – what makes a great photo?
Hey! That’s My Fish! (Ospreys in British Columbias)
Bird Photography – Novice no More!
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