Tag Archives: Northern Cardinal

Best Camera for Birding?

Barred Owl 3-22-15 Tanglewod Park AvanceNC jamiesbirds

Barred Owl

 Red-shouldered Hawk3-22-15 Tanglewod Avance NC jamiesbirds

Red-shouldered Hawk

I have always enjoyed being an amateur photographer. Above are two birds that I recently shot with a small Canon SX-50 camera on a cloudy day and from long range at Tanglewood Park in Forsyth County, NC. This Canon is the camera that I recommend for the average birder. Disclaimer: If you want professional quality bird photography, this post in NOT for you. BTW, you can click on photos to enlarge them in a new window.

The bird below, named Lola, is one of the offspring of Flitter and Maude, the birds who introduced me to bird-watching. Lola is a young, female Northern cardinal.

Lola 90 b jamiesbirds

As a still-novice birder, photo-documentation has been very helpful to me to correctly identify species and to learn more about them, especially new birds. When I am uncertain about a bird, I just send a photo to one my experienced birder friends who promptly and properly identify the bird.  And taking photos is useful just as a way to get a better look. Not long ago, for example, I saw a dimly-lit bird at dusk with a beak that made it look to me like a Kingbird — not at all likely — but when I examined the pictures in Photoshop, it became obvious that the mystery bird was a Robin.

Egret in fligfht a 9-14-14 jamiesbirds

Great Egret in flight in Bermuda Run East (15th hole)

Camera equipment? I have some expensive and some “relatively” inexpensive cameras. The expensive Sony stuff — Sony a99 camera with a 70-300mm zoom lens — can capture images of birds in flight (as above), but the relatively inexpensive camera — sorry, still about $350 on Amazon — has a phenomenal 50X zoom lens.

Canon SX50 long lens jamiesbirds

The Sony is very expensive and clearly has many advantages over the Canon camera, including the ability to alter shutter speed and aperture at the touch of a button, not to mention that it can shoot 11 frames/second. The light meter is built in and it has a lot of other bells and whistles. The Sony is a serious camera for someone who takes their photography somewhat seriously. (I am not sure that that person is me.)

And truthfully, for that money there may be many better cameras out there. I chose that combination of Sony camera/lens, because I felt that I could handle it, size and weight-wise.  However, the 300mm limit of the Sony lens doesn’t approach the 1,200mm zoom of the Canon SX-50.  So, the big Sony camera comes out for special occasions and for specific applications. For my everyday birding, most of the time, I prefer my Canon SX-50.

Using the Canon SX50 camera, you have to have a steady hand and a relatively-still bird. Most of my photos on this blog are taken with it. When shooting, I take as many shots as I can get in before my arms start to shake. This is done on the principle that one out of ten frames will be in good focus. When shooting long-range, I even control my breathing. To get good photos with this camera, it does take practice.

It wasn’t until I had purchased two other more expensive cameras that I appreciated my SX-50. Some of my birder friends are amazed at some of the photos with this little camera, as mine are often better than theirs, taken with much more expensive equipment.

Finally, I also like that the Canon SX-50 is lightweight and easy to handle. It hang it around my neck just below my binoculars. Hands down, I recommend the point-and-shoot Canon SX-50 for birding primarily because of the great zoom lens. It does, however, require a steady hand. If you disagree with my opinion and you have another best-camera-for-the-average-birder, please leave a comment.


Remember, Not All Birds Feed on the Feeder

Pins Siskin1 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds  Pins Siskin2 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Pine Siskins in Bermuda Run (NC) Note: You can click on photos to enlarge them.

Pins Siskin party1 at BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Pine Siskin Party (Why I put as much seed on the ground as I put in the feeders.)

Bluebird bath time1 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds Bluebird bath time2 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

 Bluebird bath time5 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

 Bluebird bath time6 BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

   Eastern Bluebird bath time

Downy Woodpecker BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds American Goldfinch BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Downy Woodpecker and American Goldfinch

Northern Cardinal BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds American Robin BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Northern cardinal and American Robin

Goldfinch and JuncoBR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds Dark-Eyed Junco BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

American Goldfinch and Dark-Eyed Juncos

Brown Creeper BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds White-Breasted Nuthatch BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Hard-to-photograph Brown Creeper and White-Breasted Nuthatch

House Finch jamiesbirds WhiteThroated Sparrow BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

House Finch and White-Throated Sparrow

Tufted Titmouse BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds Cedar Waxwing BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Tufted Titmouse and Cedar Waxwing

 Mostly Goldfinches BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

Hold it, [Almost] Goldfinches only!

Neighborhood Red-Tailed Hawk BR NC Feb 2015 jamiesbirds

The neighborhood bully (Immature Red-Tailed Hawk)

Winter Birds 2015

Starling in Central Park dd 1-9-15 photo by Jamie Koufman

Starling all puffed out for insulation

Cold puffed out sparrow in Central Park 1-9-15 photo by Jamie Koufman

House sparrow all puffed out, too.

Sparrows in Central Park 1-9-15 photo by Jamie Koufman

Sparrows not puffed

Common redpoll c Central Park ramble jamiesbirds 1-25-15

Common Redpoll in the Ramble (Sun., Jan. 25th)

Birders at rhe feeders at the Ramble Central Park jamiesbirds 1-25-15

Birders at the feeders in the Central Park Ramble. Most wanted to see the Common Redpoll — and he was accommodating (below) — though my photos weren’t great.

Golfinches and Common Redpoll Central Park 1-25-15 jamiesbirds


Chipping sparrow Central Park ramble jamiesbirds 1-25-15

Chipping Sparrow in the Ramble (Sun., Jan. 25, 2015)

SCRAM Tufted titmouse turf Central Park ramble jamiesbirds 1-25-15

 Scram! (Titmouse turf war)

Reservoir at Central Park 1-25-15 jamiesbirds

The Central Park Reservoir

Flitter and Maude

Flitter and Maude 10-3-14

Here are a Northern Cardinal couple that are regulars at my house in Bermuda Run (North Carolina), near Winston Salem. Here is what happened: one morning last spring (2014), I was sitting outside on my deck in Bermuda Run. In stead of hearing street noise like in New York, all I heard was birds singing. The contrast was striking.

An hour later, I went to my favorite store, ACE Hardware, and purchased a bird bath and some bird feeders …

 Bird feeders and bird bath 2014

Within a short time, that same morning that I put up my stuff, a beautiful Cardinal came around …

Flitter 10-3-14

This bird flittered back and forth between two trees, with each pass never landing on the feeder. This kept up for about 45 ,minutes. An then, he sent in his wife …


Flitter and Maude have become good friends, whom I see every day that I am in Bermuda Run. It is because of them that I became an avid birder. And, they had two babies this year. Three photos of the male, Woodstock, are shown in the post below; and the gorgeous young female, Lola, is shown in the “Birds of 2104” post below that with ***


Woodstock fledged

This is Woodstock, a just fledged Northern cardinal, baby of Flitter and Maude (in the post above). He is sort of brown and at this stage it is not clear whether he is male or female.

Woodstock 6 weeks

Here he is a few weeks later; his red plumage is starting to come in. Meanwhile, he is still not a good enough flyer to land on the feeder; so, he eats the seeds on the ground.

Woodstock 9 weeks

Here’s Woodstock two weeks later. Now more red and black, he is an almost a full-grown adolescent. At last, he has made it up to the feeder.

Sorry, the photos in this post are all slightly under- or over-exposed. Jamie

Birds of 2014

Carolina Wren b 11-17-14  Carolina Wren a 11-17-14

Carolina Wren

Goldfinch Gray Catbird

American Goldfinch / Gray Catbird

  Dark Eyed Junko b 11-17-14  Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Juncos

Tufted Titmouse  House Finch and Tufted Titmouse 10-3-14

Tufted Titmouse / House Wren & Tufted Titmouse

Downy Woodpecker 10-3-14 BrownHeaded Nuthatch 1-3-14 (2)

Downy Woodpecker / Brown-Headed Nuthatch

   Lotta Finches House and Gold  SCRAM Goldfinches

 House Finches  and Goldfinches

Eastern Phoebe 10-4-14 Bluebird

Eastern Phoebe / Eastern Bluebird

Young female Northern Cardinal Mourning Dove

*** Young female Northern Cardinal / Mourning Dove

    Jay Bath 1

Blue Jay / House Finch

Finch landing1   Ruby throat HB 1

House Finch / Ruby-Throated Humming Bird

Egret 10-4-14  Great Blue Heron

Great Egret / Great Blue Heron

All of the photos above were taken in North Carolina. The two photos below were taken in New York last spring. This mother sparrow raised babies in the support post that holds up a traffic light on the corner of my street in the West Village (corner of Bleecher and Bank Streets) in Manhattan.  The photos speak for themselves; click to enlarge to see babies.

 Sparrow Mom in street lamp post Bleecher St a  Her three babies