Photographing American Tree Sparrows in Northern Utah

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American Tree Sparrow foraging on the groundAmerican Tree Sparrow foraging on the ground – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I had a great deal of fun yesterday morning while photographing the American Tree Sparrows that I found in abundance on Antelope Island State Park foraging on the ground and perching on the bushes on the northern end of the island.

American Tree Sparrows are only here in Utah during their nonbreeding season and in just a few weeks they will start to migrate to their breeding grounds in Alaska and northern Canada.

This sparrow was foraging on open ground yesterday morning near some greasewoods and I could easily see that some spring growth of the grasses has already begun beneath the sparrow’s feet.

American Tree Sparrow in the snowAmerican Tree Sparrow in the snow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

But there were areas that were still covered by the snow from the storms last week and I was excited to take photos of the American Tree Sparrows that included the snow on the ground because the birds stood out so well because of it. This sparrow was moving out of the safety of the bushes and into the open when I photographed it.

American Tree Sparrow on a bright winter dayAmerican Tree Sparrow on a bright winter day – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/6400, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And this sparrow was standing on a mound of snow out in the open, this species sure doesn’t stand still for long which is why I maintained such a high shutter speed. I did manage to get a few sharp images of the American Tree Sparrows as they lifted off but unfortunately they turned their backs to me in all of those photos.

American Tree Sparrow hunting for foodAmerican Tree Sparrow hunting for food – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/6400, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The sparrow from the photo above moved a few inches to the north and began to hunt for seeds in the plants that were close to the ground. When I saw this image on my monitor at home yesterday I couldn’t help but smile at the crouched pose of the bird who seemed entirely focused on finding food. That tail sticking straight up made me chuckle too.

American Tree Sparrow turning its head upside down for foodAmerican Tree Sparrow turning its head upside down for food – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/6400, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And then the sparrow turned its head upside down to pluck a seed from the dried plant and I laughed out loud when I saw this photo at home on my big screen. I know I don’t have a catch light in the bird’s eye but I really loved the foraging behavior and the funny pose shown in this photo.

American Tree Sparrow perched out in the openAmerican Tree Sparrow perched out in the open – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Many of the American Tree Sparrows I saw yesterday morning were too far away to obtain high quality images of them but it was worth spending the time there yesterday for the sparrows that did come up close enough for me to take these photos. I’ll miss these little sparrows when they head north for their breeding season but I am always happy to see them while they are here.

Life is good.

Mia

4 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte March 6, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Simply incredible pics MIa. I love (as I always do) the detail, color and balance you achieve in your images. These are perfect examples of your art. Thanks.

  2. Patty Chadwick March 1, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I love this series!!!

  3. Ken Schneider March 1, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Quite the contortionist! As much as I like seeing this species, it has not been enough to make a winter trip to our second home in NE Illinois.

  4. kim March 1, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Love these images. They started my day off with a smile!

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