Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 4, 2011

American Pipit from the car

Filed under: behavior, Birds, technique — richditch @ 5:16 pm
American Pipit

American Pipit

I find the American Pipit to be a very interesting bird. I also think it is relatively unknown even though it is widespread and can occur in good numbers. I like their understated colors – browns, tans, and olives on a creamy white background.

I think it is their preference for open “desolate” places and their lack of bright colors that leads to these birds being overlooked by many photographers who shoot a lot of avian. These are not birds that you can lure to a backyard feeder, nor are they likely to be encountered in the woodlot or shrubs where most people look for birds. Instead you need to find a muddy farm field or pond edge as these are birds of the ground.

Unlike sparrows these birds walk instead of hoping. One of the reasons I like this image is it shows the pipit with one foot raised as it walks along this berm of a dirt road beside a sod farm near Scottsdale, AZ. This is the same place (and day) where I photographed Horned Larks. The raised foot allows a clear view of the long hind toe that helps support the bird on muddy ground.

Another feature that separates these birds from the superficially similar sparrows is the bill – note that it is small and thin as compared to the thick seed-eating bill of a sparrow.

Getting within photo range of a pipit can be difficult because of their selection of flat open ground – it is hard to “sneak up” on one. I’ve had my best luck either sitting quietly on the edge of a muddy pond hoping that one will eventually come close, or shooting from the car as in this case.

November 13, 2010, Nikon D200, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/1250th second at f/8. Croped to 35% of full frame.


1 Comment »

  1. A fine image of the pipit Rich. In my mind I immediately compared this to the few I have of the species and yours put mine to shame. I think you’re right that many avian photographers overlook this bird.

    Comment by rondudley — January 4, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

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