Watching You Watching Them

Alex Badyaev Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Entitled Watching You Watching Them, this photographer was gifted with an example of the bird he was studying right outside his cabin window.

The Cordilleran flycatcher is declining across western North America as the changing climate causes shrinkage of the riparian habitats (i.e. river and other freshwater corridors) along its migratory routes and on its wintering grounds in Mexico. In Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, it typically nests in crevices and on canyon shelves. But one pair picked this remote research cabin instead, perhaps to avoid predation. The nest was built on the head of a window frame by the female. Both parents were feeding the nestlings, flying out to snatch insects in mid-air or hovering to pick them off leaves.

So as not to disturb the birds or attract predators to the nest, Alex Badyaev hid his camera behind a large piece of bark on an ancient spruce tree leaning against the cabin. He directed a flash toward the trunk, so the scene would be illuminated by reflection, and operated the setup remotely from the cabin. He captured his shot as the female paused to check on her four nestlings. Behind her—the cabin serving as a conveniently spacious blind—the biologist recorded his observations.

Happy Friday, everyone. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Watching You Watching Them”

  1. Very cool. You really have to know about photography and lighting for that shot. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend.

    1. Yes, I agree. Not like me and the little million-year-old Canon I keep in the truck (I use it for more photos than anything else, although my phone is getting up there, too). But, in 18 months I hope to be retired and making use of some nice camera equipment (although knowing me the Canon will still be my go-to).

      You have a nice weekend, too, Lori. 🙂

  2. What a great picture!
    Yesterday I read an article about the decline in bird populations — very disheartening. It’s not something we notice until someone points it out to us.

    1. I found this photo to be quite fascinating. Bird populations have been hit quite hard by environmental issues (mostly caused by humans), from the largest raptors such as eagles to the little hummingbirds. They’re getting confused by the warming temperatures as well which then causes them to try to overwinter in places where they might not find enough to eat or the weather may suddenly turn. Apparently covid has caused some rebounding, though. Coronavirus has had its silver linings (but I’m going to be delighted to get a vaccination!).

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