Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 7, 2009

Loathsome can be lovely

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, light, style — richditch @ 4:45 pm
European Starling on cactus

European Starling on cactus

The European Starling has a well deserved reputation among birders in the U.S. for its aggressive behavior towards native species and its practice of displacing those natives from scarce nesting cavities. And I am definitely among the ranks of birders who have no love for these birds that were introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800’s by some fool who wanted all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare in Central Park. Like many introduced pests their population exploded and they soon became abundant throughout much of the country.

But as a photographer I cannot ignore them. Their abundance and near universal availability means that I can always find one for a photo if I need to point my camera at something. And while doing this I’ve been able to make some interesting images.

The shot at the top of this post was taken at the Desert Botanical Gardens on May 7, 2006 in soft early morning light at ISO 200, 1160th at f/11, with the D200, 200/2.8 and 2x converter. I like the soft green and blue, and the contrast with the glossy black plumage. I like the graphic shapes of the cactus top, and how the directional light gives them dimension. If you didn’t know about this bird’s evil ways you might actually think it is a pretty nice bird just from the setting.

European Starling nesting in cactus cavity

European Starling nesting in cactus cavity

This image shows the down side of starlings – it is occupying a nest cavity dug out of a Saguaro cactus by a Gila Woodpecker at the Gilbert Water Ranch. The time is a bit later in the morning and the light is a bit more harsh – appropriate for my editorial view of the bird. I’ve also composed this based mostly on the graphic design of the cactus. Taken March 17, 2005 with a D70, 300/2.8 plus 2x, ISO 200, 1/320th at f/11.

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