Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No wonder they won't pose!

Bad hairfeather day:

I've been trying, at intervals in the last few days, to take a photo of a red-headed house finch. With no luck; he's not interested. I am, and not only because he is so vibrantly coloured.

Today, I stood at the door, stock still, camera ready, all lights at my back off, pretending to be part of the door jamb. The redhead was in the feed bucket.

Normally, the finches jump in the bucket, grab a seed, hop up to the rim to deal with it, then drop back down for the next.

Cracking the seed.

"Red" was doing just that, when I turned on the camera. While he was down in the bucket, I positioned myself at the door. And waited for him to show up. And waited. And waited...

Meanwhile, a chickadee took a bath at the feeder to my right, a family of sparrows lined up on a branch of the rhododendron, another pair of finches was bouncing around at the edge of my vision. Photo-ops galore, and I stood focussing on a bare rim of a tin bucket.

Five minutes went by. Six, seven. No Red.

I eventually decided that he must have left while I was distracted by the chickadee (I was? I was sure I had kept my eyes on that bucket the whole time. But maybe I had lost concentration for that necessary split-second.) I gave up and walked over to peer in the bucket.

And Red blasted out of the bucket and away. I think he was laughing.

I did get a shot at him later, at a distance and with the wrong background:

The red topknot almost disappears against the dirt.

A couple of weeks ago, this bird was smooth and beautiful. Now, he looks scruffy. His head is knobbly, there are bald spots, and the feathers stick out at odd angles. I have been trying to get a close-up to see if I can determine whether he is just molting, or if there is a mite infestation problem to worry about.

The chickadees are all looking good, but some of my other finches are showing signs of wear.

Looks like it's been in a fight. A feather-pulling fight.

Zooming 'way in, same bird. Bare spots on head and neck.

Wearing a Mohawk.

This one looks good.

I'm beginning to understand their reluctance to smile for the camera.

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