Female Bushtit at the Flaming Gorge DamFemale Bushtit at the Flaming Gorge Dam – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 800, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Bushtits are a nemesis bird for me, I have only had a few opportunities to photograph these tiny, frenetic birds and I have yet to get high quality images of them. I’ve only seen them a few times, I’ve heard them a bit more often but still they remain out of reach for the images of them that I desire. Yesterday I saw a flock of them in Ophir Canyon in Tooele County and only got a few images where most of the bird was out in the open.

It reminded me of seeing a small flock of them at the Flaming Gorge Dam in Daggett County, Utah back in September of 2011 where the best photos I was able to obtain didn’t show the entire bird because of vegetation in the way, or the light was harsh on one part of the bird and the rest of it was in shadows or having the entire bird in shadows were I could barely make out their features.

It was early in the morning when I photographed the female Bushtit above, there was a flock of Bushtits and gnatcatchers foraging together and this is the best photo I was able to get. I remember feeling so disappointed when they all flew off and that this was the best photo I had gotten. This image won’t make into my photo galleries, there is simply too much that is wrong with it. I only kept a few images from that day to remind me that I need better photos of this species .

I also remember camping outside in Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey, Utah where I kept hearing a twittering call that I was trying to identify. I turned on my iBird Pro app and scrolled through some calls of birds I thought I might be hearing. When I played the calls of Bushtits the birds flew right towards me, some of them within less than 10 feet. I was quite astonished by how many Bushtits there were. And guess what? I didn’t have my camera at hand because I was simply trying to figure out what birds I was hearing. I don’t use recording to call birds in close to me anyhow so I had great views of the birds but no photos.

Turn your volume way up, they are hard to hear in this recording:

Female Bushtit in Ophir CanyonFemale Bushtit in Ophir Canyon – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

So yesterday in Ophir Canyon this was the best photo I obtained of a female Bushtit foraging in the rabbitbrush. The light on the bird wasn’t the best, the setting was super messy and she blends right in with the color of the vegetation around her. I wish she stood out more. I don’t know if this image will make it into my photo galleries, maybe it will but it will just act as a placeholder until I take better photos of this species.

Maybe one day I’ll find a flock of Bushtits out in the open in wonderful light and get the photos of them that I desire. Maybe I won’t but it is okay to dream.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover December 8, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Nice images of a soft-sounding bird I haven’t seen before. Thanks!

  2. April Olson December 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

    They are wonderful little birds. I first noticed them 8 years ago on a fall trip to Mesa Verde National Park. They were plentiful and brave. I did not know what they were at the time. I took many photos and identified them when I got home. Mesa Verde also had Titmouse. I was thrilled I had never seen one in the wild before. I think I took hundreds of photos.

  3. Patty Chadwick December 3, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Sorry for double comments…I type.my appreciation of your wonderful photos, but nothing shows up, so I retype…then suddenly BOTH suddenly appear…NUTS!!!!

  4. Patty Chadwick December 3, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Two great shots, but I especially like the second with the bird framed by the fuzzy seed heads of the rabbitbrush. The bird itself is so crisply detailed yet it blends in so perfectly to its surroundings…..Beautiful!

  5. Patty Chadwick December 3, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Great images…I especially like the second with bird framed by fuzzy rabbitbrush seed heads, showing how perfectly they blend in with their surroundings…the bird itself is so crisply detailed…a beautiful photo!!!

  6. Liz Cormack December 3, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I’m sure compared to other photos you have in your photo gallery these photos may be a disappointment but for me I think they are great. I didn’t realize the tail in the first photo is in shadow because I was so taken with the detail of the body, head & eye. And, yes, the 2nd photo blends into the surrounding but there is still much detail. ‘Nuff said.

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