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Attempts to Attract and Photograph Birds, Week 1

Posted May 6th, 2008 at 01:45 AM by funrun
Since I recently moved into a new apartment with a balcony that I can actually see from inside, I decided to attempt to attract some birds with a bird feeder. At Walmart I found a bell-shaped glued conglomeration of different birdseeds for about $2, and figured this was worth a test to see if I could attract any birds.

I hung the seed bell right outside the window next to my desk, and for 2-3 days nothing happened.

During that time I only happened to be at home in the morning and twilight hours, but one evening I noticed a bird on the bell! As I approached the window the bird quickly flew away.

I saw him again the next morning, and this time he had a friend, but any motion on my part to get closer to the window scared them off again.

One time I noticed he only flew off to the nearby roofline, so I grabbed my camera and managed to snap a few photos. The photos themselves sucked cuz the lighting was dim and overcast and the bird was moving around too fast to be in focus, but it was enough of a record for me to use my bird book (for the first time) to identify them as a pair of male and female House Finches. Victory is mine!

I saw them again that evening, and realized if I pulled my window blinds down but didn't close the slats, I could set my camera on a tripod and poke the lens through the blind slats. For some reason, the birds were not scared if I moved around behind the open slats, and this meant my camera lens was only 4 feet away from the seed bell!

The male has a pretty, somewhat iridescent red breast with color that extends to the top of his head. The female is white and brown variegated.

Female and Male House Finch, respectively

(Click image to enlarge.)

Over the course of a few minutes each day I ended up with almost 200 photos of these two! They were difficult to get in a good photograph because usually one is behind the bell and only its tail or head sticks out, and/or the lighting and cloudiness on these initial days made one bird too dark to see details in the shadows. Also, you'd be amazed at the funny ways they turn their bodies that just don't create that classic bird shape in a two dimensional format. On a nice sunny evening I eventually got some more decent photos like the one above, where I happened to catch them both in a nice profile view with lighting on both birds.

In about a week, these two had devoured the seed bell until the bottom half of it fell to the ground, where I think some strong winds disposed it off my balcony and out of my view.

Not bad for $2, eh?

I figured I'd try again the next time I went to Walmart. I ended up buying an extra seed bag, and things got much more interesting!

To be continued. . .
Posted in Birding
Comments 3
Total Comments 3


Hex_Enduction_Hour's Avatar
Funrun, what bird book are you using?

The feeding bell and its ability to attract so many birds is quite a deal for $2!
I made a point to scan the pet aisle of my Raley's store this past week for a feeder bell.
They had one on the shelf, but the bottom appeared to have been dropped or damaged. It was crumpled and falling apart.
Posted May 6th, 2008 at 06:57 PM by Hex_Enduction_Hour Hex_Enduction_Hour is offline
funrun's Avatar
I am using National Geographic's Birds of North America book, or the title is some other ordering of the same words.

The feeder bells at my Walmart on the second time I went to buy them were pretty damaged, as you describe. If you can't find one in tact, it would still be worth buying it and opening the package on the ground directly under where you want to hang the bell so all the broken seed falls there. This is what is going to happen as the birds peck at it anyways. After the second bell fell to the ground is when I got the most different species and most quantity of birds at the same time, because the bell itself can only support 2 birds feeding at once, but broken chunks of the seed on the ground feeds many birds at once!
Posted May 8th, 2008 at 02:26 PM by funrun funrun is offline
chief's Avatar
Great pic, keep up the good work.
Posted May 31st, 2008 at 11:37 PM by chief chief is offline

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