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The Birds of Boulder’s Backyards: Feathered Gazes Grab Us!


You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?  Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver

When I take pictures of Boulder Birds my goal is to capture feeling. I want emotion in the pictures. I want to pull the viewer into the picture, to engage the viewer with the picture. Most often I do this by catching the bird staring back at me. This is the opposite of what so many choose as a picture. It is far more typical of animal pictures including bird shots for the photographer to do the opposite. I want the pictures and the birds to literally speak to me. That’s easier said than done, since the little feathered friends have an apparent aversion to holding still. Were it not for auto-focus and auto-exposure I probably would never have taken a picture in focus. Once again, if there is a secret it is to take a LOT of pictures. If I take two pics, my chances of getting one I like are not so good. If I take 20 pictures, my chances of getting one I like are far better.

So many of us like a good soak! A large bird bath makes for a great soak. Catch the same bird staring back and we become involved with the picture.

Even a bunny rabbit can create excitement if there is emotional involvement. This one pulls us into the picture.


Female Western Flicker. The males have bright red cheeks.


The Eastern Jay was made even more famous by Mark Twain in his wonderful three pages about the flicker. He reminds us of what verbose talkers they are.


Our American Goldfinches are not unusual in the back yard. They are however beautiful! I never tire of them.


Our friend the Eastern Jay is another of the most striking looking of birds.


Our back yard harbingers of snow, the Junko, is another striking-looking bird. Even just black and white become striking colors in this bird.

Who is looking at whom? Are the birds a show for us or are we the show for the bird? My suspicion is that we are looking at each other. Some are flighty and virtually vanish when they notice us. Some are completely unfazed. Skittish or secure? Scared or unimpressed? During the year of the “plague” lock-down I spent far too much time sitting in a lounge chair next to the back sliding glass door. Great for pictures, with a movie on the video and a camera in my lap. Spotting one of the especially striking birds can have me stop breathing with the thrill and the gasp of what I’m seeing. I once spent an entire day on the banks of the Cache La Poudre river attempting to take a picture of a hummingbird. My efforts were distinctly characterized by one word. “Terrible!”

If I don’t take many bad pictures, I’m probably not trying hard enough. If we never fail, we’re not trying hard enough. Success IMO in my opinion requires a willingness to fail!

Lenny Lensworth Frieling (all pics Lensworth)

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