My Favorite Bird Photos of 2010

by Larry Jordan on December 12, 2010

Ferruginous Hawk, 400mm, f/6.3, 1/1600 sec, ISO 320

Another year is coming to a close and I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite bird photos of 2010.  It was not easy selecting photographs for this post.  I began going through my pictures and found some I had forgotten that I took!

Ferruginous Hawks winter here every year in the oak savanna along Oak Run Creek, about five miles from my home.  The photo above was taken on January 9th and I just saw my first Ferruginous Hawk of this winter today.  They feed almost exclusively on rabbit in the west, and east of the continental divide, prairie dogs and ground squirrels1.

I also discovered that I was sometimes partial to the photo of a bird that I really enjoyed photographing or was surprised that I had been given the opportunity to observe, even if the photograph was not technically the best.

All photos were taken with my Nikon D90 unless otherwise stated and the camera settings are listed below each photo.  Click on the photos to see the full sized images.

This next shot was taken at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge on February 27th.  When I first began photographing birds, I was so excited to get a glimpse of a Marsh Wren, I never imagined I would one day be able to photograph the male building a nest.

Marsh Wren, 360mm, f/5.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 200

To make it easier to organize, I am posting a photo for each month of this year.  The photo I chose for March was taken in my back yard.  One of my first attempts with my digiscoping setup.  It is a male House Finch, one of the many that visit my feeders year round.

The digiscoping setup uses a 50mm lens and usually I use a 2.0 f-stop setting to allow the maximum amount of light through the lens.  You will notice that some of the shots taken through the scope will have a high ISO setting.  This is sometimes necessary in low light conditions to obtain a fast enough shutter speed.

House Finch, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 640

April of this year was the first time I got a really good look at a Sora.  Lema Ranch seems to be a good location to observe this rail and some others you may have seen in previous posts.

Sora, 400mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 320

I take more and more bird photographs as we come into the spring and summer months and mating when nesting behavior reach their peaks.  May was a tough choice month but I decided on this male Western Bluebird that was watching me as I checked on his nest box at Lema Ranch.

Western Bluebird, 310mm, f/5.3, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

Every year, in June, Wintu Audubon schedules a camping trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  It’s a great place to bird with around 216 species of birds observed in the park, 96 of those species known to breed there.  I found this Pygmy Nuthatch feeding its nestlings at Manzanita Lake.

Pygmy Nuthatch, 50mm, f/2.5, 1/640 sec, ISO 3200

We have several Osprey that nest in Shasta County, mostly along the Sacramento River and at the many lakes that dot the northern California map.  This mother was shielding her young from the hot July sun as they waited for dad to bring them some lunch.

Osprey, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/500 sec, ISO 1250

One nice day in August I got out of work early and found a Green Heron fishing and preening at Turtle Bay, another great birding spot here in Shasta County.

Green Heron, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/125 sec, ISO 3200

I really enjoy being able to watch birds from my back porch.  I have several bird feeders set up and a water feature that attracts birds year round.  This entry of a juvenile female Acorn Woodpecker for September was part of a post titled “Portraits From The Porch.”

Acorn Woodpecker, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 2000

October gave me several choices in my bird photo bank and I finally decided on this Western Scrub-Jay taken in my yard.  I really like the detail in this picture and it shows the birds color very well.

Western Scrub-Jay, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 3200

I chose this photo of an American Kestrel partly because it is one of my bird photography nemesis birds.  Whenever they see me coming, they take off before I can even raise my camera.  The other reason I included it is because I love the beauty of this species and I get to see it perched on the wires nearly everyday as I drive to work.

This sub-optimal image was taken at Lema Ranch, high upon a prominent snag where you can almost always find an interesting bird perched.

American Kestrel, 50mm, f/2.2, 1/500sec, ISO 800

Since I haven’t downloaded any images from December yet, I will leave you with one of my favorite photos of my favorite raptor, the Burrowing Owl.

Burrowing Owl, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 640

Please take the time to read my previous post and help us out by signing our petition to save this beautiful bird.

To see more great bird photos and read some excellent posts, check out Bird Photography Weekly.  On Wednesday, check out World Bird Wedneday, then on Thursday it’s I and the Bird at Peregrine’s Bird Blog.  Enjoy!

References: 1 Birds of North America Online

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Mick December 12, 2010 at 10:52 am

That’s a great collection of birds, Larry. I love the look of the first one – the Hawk in flight – but the Bluebird watching you is very cute!


dreamfalcon December 12, 2010 at 11:41 am

What a great selection! Thank you so much for sharing.


Larry December 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm

@Mick thank you. The Ferruginous Hawk is one of my favorite raptors

@Natalie you are very welcome!


Kelly December 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Wow…that Burrowing Owl shot is just outrageous. The eyes are so beautiful and mesmerizing too. The photo of the Osprey shielding her young from the sun is amazing. What a moment to capture…and it’s so crisp too. The Western Scrub Jay is so beautiful too. They all are!


Mike B. December 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm

So many good ones- I think my favorite is the Bluebird though. I saw my first one at a nature center where they had installed a bunch of nest boxes for them. Hopefully they’ll make a comeback.


Larry December 13, 2010 at 12:42 am

@Kelly you know how much I love Burrowing Owls. I had trouble choosing one photo. Thank you for your kind comments

@Mike Western Bluebirds have made a huge comeback since the 1950’s. I know there are many more in Shasta County than there were a few short years ago 😉


vickie December 13, 2010 at 6:05 am

Awesome collection of photos! Your Ferrunginous Hawk, Osprey and that fun Burrowing Owl grabbed me the most. Exceptional.


NatureFootstep December 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

hm, I could not comment. 🙁

a great set of stunning bird shots. Can´t be helped, but the raptors are close to heart.


Monika December 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm

What a beautiful selection of photos. I think the osprey is my favorite!!


Øyvind December 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

Nice collection! I really like the Osprey, but the Heron and the Owl are also very good!


springman December 14, 2010 at 10:45 am

I found your year in review post fascinating! I had been wondering how digiscoping worked and now I think I have a little idea. Your Scrub Jay is shot at 3200 ISO for goodness sake! I’d say it’s a pretty high quality image given that.
It must be wonderful to have photo ops like you have shown here. I had my first Kestrel sighting this month and I did not get a great shot. That Kestrels are your “nemesis” bird is to funny. I like the fact that your best focused pictures are not necessarily your favorites, that shows a degree of maturity that I am envious of.
Lastly, I’m going with the Osprey spreading its wings over the fledglings as my favorite. Perfect photo! Wishing you many more wonderful adventures in 2011!


Bob December 14, 2010 at 11:40 am

Nice series of images Larry. Fantastic job capturing an image of the Sora. I rarely see this secretive species and this year it was only heard amongst some cattails. No amount waiting or playing of tapes by our trip leader brought it out into the open.


Gary Phillips December 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I really enjoyed your selection. Boom & Gary Of The Vermilon River, Canada.


theconstantwalker December 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm

A lovely site and i love the Burrowing Owl!


Pam December 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Wow, those are jaw-dropping shots! I think my favorite is the one of the ospreys.


Pat Ulrich December 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Fantastic collection of bird images — looks like a productive year for you! I really like the hawk and osprey shots, but the last frame of the burrowing owl is definitely my favorite!


Arija December 15, 2010 at 12:47 am

A magical collection indeed! You have had some wonderful experiences during this past year.


Jan Axel December 15, 2010 at 9:28 am

Great collection of photos. My favorite is that of the Ospreys!


Hilke Breder December 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Great collection! Stunning photo of the Osprey just landing on the nest with the two juveniles. I also love the Burrow Owl – trying to fix you with its eyes; such a typical expression.

Reply December 16, 2010 at 9:00 am

Really really excellent selection of photographs! It’s hard to choose THE one that I like best, especially if I base the decision on pure beauty of the image. Allow me to swiftly dodge that impossible task by saying that I like the Marsh Wren photo the best because it captures a very interesting behavior that may just be totally unknown.


Jean December 18, 2010 at 6:50 am

Since I have never been out West…many of these birds would be a treat for me to see. American Kestrels like to tease me also. Love the composition of one on the snag!


Richard April 14, 2011 at 4:30 am

Hi………… the website and the pictures……..just wondering did you use a 50mm lens for many of those shots?


Larry April 14, 2011 at 5:37 am

@Richard the 50mm lens is part of the digiscoping setup and is used for every photo using the scope. The rest were taken with a conventional zoom lens


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