Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

March 26, 2009

Black-necked Stilts in Love

Filed under: behavior, Birds, composition, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, style — richditch @ 7:49 pm
Black-necked Silt Mating Dance

Black-necked Silt Mating Dance

While sorting though images for today’s post I noticed the time stamp on this image – March 27, 2008. So, I thought I’d post it as a “heads up” to other local bird photographers to get out in the field and watch for this to happen.

Black-necked Stilts nest at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, where this image was taken a year ago. They are a lot of fun to watch while they go through their mating dance which is very similar to their close cousins, the American Avocets who also breed at the Water Ranch. The female assumes a stanch with the head lowered. The male bows and scrapes and tosses some water about with his bill, then mounts the female for a brief period. When copulation is complete the male gets down and both birds perform a short ballet.

It is difficult to capture the complete sequence, even though regulars to the Water Ranch are now aware of the performance. You want a tight shot of a bird to show detail but need a wider view when the male mounts the female – it is very hard to avoid clipping the male at the top of the frame or an extended wing on the edge. You want a clean setting with a good background – always difficult a the Water Ranch because the other birds keep getting in the frame or there’s lots of junk on the water’s surface. You want soft warm light early or late in the day, and it needs to come from the proper direction to illuminate the birds as they perform. And you need quick reflexes to catch peak activity and attractive poses.

No, I don’t have a complete sequence. I’ve got lots of short sequences or various parts, but none are all that good.

But I do have this single image where everything came together properly at the right moment.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 AF-S lens with TC20E 2x converter, tripod, ISO 200, 1/320th at f/11, 3/27/08.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] A lot of the names are appropriate, though: a Blue Grosbeak really is blue, a Black-necked Stilt really does look like it’s on stilts, a Boat-tailed Grackle really does have a boat of a […]

    Pingback by birding trip post #2 « Thoughts and Words Ill-Sorted — June 9, 2010 @ 6:51 pm


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