Cedar Waxwing adult with a cloudy sky background – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
One thing I learned early on as a budding bird photographer was to try to get the best light on my subjects which usually meant having the sun on the back of my shoulders so the light fell directly on the bird I was photographing and illuminated them well. Of course there are exceptions to that technique for instance under the right conditions the use of back and side lighting can produce stellar images too.
When I photographed on foot and shot handheld it was easier for me to get the best angle of light because I had complete range of movement of my body, photographing from a vehicle and using it as a mobile blind is far more limiting in that respect because there is a degree of lack of mobility inside the vehicle plus attempting to maneuver a vehicle into a safe place on the road to photograph or even to get it parked where the lighting is good on the subject can be a challenge.
On the 19th of June I was up in a Wasatch Mountain canyon and had begun to head out of the canyon to go home when I saw a bird fly into a bush in front of me, I recognized the bird immediately as a Cedar Waxwing and I thought about passing it by because I was facing towards the sun in my Jeep. In a split second I realized if I drove past the bird and angled my Jeep just right I could get decent light on the waxwing. I pulled over to the left side of the road after I passed the bush and the bird and I succeeded in getting the Cedar Waxwing in fairly good light with a cloudy sky background.
I learned to look backwards over my shoulder while I walked on foot photographing birds when I walked towards the sun because a bird might fly in behind me and land in good light, that knowledge is helpful to me even now when I am photographing from a vehicle.
Life is good.
A few Cedar Waxwing facts:
- Cedar Waxwings are medium sized, grayish birds with brown crested heads, a narrow black mask with pale yellow bellies, waxy yellow tips on their tails and waxy red tips on their wings. Males and females look alike.
- Cedar Waxwings are short to long distance migrants. They spend winters in the lower third of North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and extreme northern parts of South America.
- Cedar Waxwings can be found in woodlands, orchards, farms, suburban gardens, riparian habitats, canyons, sagebrush, desert washes and grasslands as long as there are shrubs, bushes or trees nearby that bear fruit.
- Cedar Waxwings primarily feed on fruit year round. They can become intoxicated if the sugar in the fruits have fermented. They will also eat insects.
- Cedar Waxwings lay 2 to 6 eggs which hatch in 12 to 16 days. Both adults incubate and they are monogamous.
- A group of waxwings can be called an “ear-full” of waxwings.
- Cedar Waxwings can live to be more than 7 years of age.