Yellow Warbler - Small in the FrameYellow Warbler – Small in the Frame – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I haven’t been able to get frame filling images of Yellow Warblers partly because I don’t use recorded calls to bring birds into range for photographing. During breeding season I feel that recorded calls should not be used because it interrupts normal breeding behavior, for instance males will expend energy unnecessarily looking for a rival on his territory even when it is just a recorded sound.

Breeding birds need every bit of energy they to complete the tasks at hand which are finding a mate, defending territories, mating, incubating and rearing young. Using a recording to draw birds out into the open can also make them vulnerable to predation. I do know of instances where photographers will set up speakers on breeding grounds and play recorded calls all day long to get the images they want, that hardly seems fair to the birds who are wasting valuable energy by responding to a mechanical “intruder”.

The use of sound recordings for drawing birds out into the open and into range is a controversial topic and is debated frequently on many birding and bird photography web sites, for me personally not using recordings is a no brainer because I want to photograph my subjects doing what they do naturally when they want to do it and where they want to be while causing the least amount of disturbance possible.

From the American Birding Association’s Principles of Birding Ethics:

Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area;

Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.

The Yellow Warbler in my image was singing along a creek lined with willows and although the bird is small in the frame I find this image appealing because of the simple lines, the bird’s pose and the wonderful eye contact the bird gave me as it briefly looked towards me.

An interesting tidbit about Yellow Warblers: Brown-headed Cowbirds parasitize Yellow Warbler nests and the warblers respond by building other nests directly on top of the parasitized nest which can result in tiers of nests being stacked as many  as six times.


* I am currently on the road again, please feel free to share this post!