Beautiful and Bright
The American Goldfinch is among my top 20 favorite birds. I absolutely loved its bright yellow feathers accompanied by contrast of black. This was one of the first birds I was able to recognize and remember on sight. I must say however, it is the most difficult bird I have ever tried to photograph. The Goldfinch is a tiny and fast-moving bird. If you blink your eyes POOF it’s gone! I was visiting a nearby state park and decided to go to the marsh area to see if I could find any waterfowl. As I was looking out into the distance, I noticed a bright-colored dot accompanied by high pitch chirping. I glanced to my left and there it was, the goldfinch dancing from tree limb to tree limb.
The American Goldfinch
The goldfinch gets its food mainly from plants, trees, weeds, and shrubs; mostly consuming seeds and insects. It’s known to visit backyard feeders as well. They have a 4.3 – 5.1 inch wingspan and weigh about .4 – .7 ounces. They fly south for the winter to survive during the winter if their current locations temperatures fall near of below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Goldfinch’s typically live in fields, overgrown areas, and shrubs. I notced this particular bird flyin limb to limb then it made its way to the muddy ground of the marsh. Thankfully due to its small size it landed on a broken stick; wouldn’t want to get those beautiful feathers dirty! There were tons of tiny insects for the goldfinch to make its lunch from. It seemed like a great spot to fill up and continue the rest of its day.
I already had my camera settings set to go in case I ran into a fast-moving subject. I have a 9 point focus system on my camera. That paired with auto-focus allows me to quickly focus on a subject. I also had the shutter set to continuous high on a high shutter speed to freeze motion. I also opted to use my super telephoto lens because most of the areas of the marsh were not (safely) accessible by foot. This particular lens and camera combination proved to give me a great arm workout that day. Capturing a quick photo eventually becomes easier with practice, patience, and technique. It was a bit difficult to keep the bird in the frame because each time if focused on it and got it in frame, it moved to the next spot. The best way for me to keep track of its movements was to zoom out with my lens then when I seen that it was still for a few seconds, quickly zoom in to create the photo.
Finally, I captured the photo above just in time as it landed somewhat close to me and while looking in my direction at the same time. I just so happened to be in the right spot at the right time.
On a final note
This was a happy encounter for me because every time I spot or hear a goldfinch I never have my camera with me or have the wrong lens; such as a wide-angle lens. Unless I’m 3 feet away from the goldfinch, I don’t think I’ll ever create a photo with that lens. I haven’t spotted one in my backyard. However, if goldfinches notice other birds crowding a feeder, they will look for another source of food. The sparrows in my area completely take over my backyard most of the time. Hopefully one will stop by to visit me one day and hopefully I will have my camera handy!
To hear one of the many sounds of the American Goldfinch, click here (please note: clicking on link will play audio)
Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time