This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Cape May Magazine.
With spring and summer come the brighter colors of fruiting trees and pretty flowers that photographers crave for to make photographs. Now that is all well and dandy but if you think about it, you will start to understand that most flowers probably taste as good to birds as they do to humans. Yes, not very good! Many of the trees we plant are non native and are planted for their beauty and color, not nutritional value to wildlife. This makes it difficult to get good photos because most birds tend to stay away from them. But that is also part of the challenge!
If you live in the Cape May area, and you have some pretty coloured (I am English and this is the correct spelling) vegetation in your garden there is a good chance that sooner or later some bloke will be pointing his big camera towards you. It will usually be early in the morning or late in the day when the light is at its most romantic. Don’t worry, chances are it will be probably me and no; I am not a peeping tom.
The pink spring blossoms are stunning but getting birds to pose for photos is near impossible. Birds rarely use these trees and when they do, they tend to be perched on the inside away from the flowers, just like this male Northern Cardinal – on the inside looking out!
Getting photographs of birds on the ground is not so difficult. The problem is nearly all the birds that spend time on the ground tend to be dull – Cowbirds, Blackbirds, Grackles and beauties such as this European Starling (no, I didn’t bring it with me). Actually, I like Starlings. When you look at them closely they are iridescent purple and green, and they change their spots! Dull or beautiful? Like many things in life, it depends on how you look at them.
Orchard Orioles have been an in increasing visitor to flowers in my garden in the last two years. As there name suggests they are at home in fruiting trees. They like warm weather, and given the state of climatic changes, they are probably going to be getting commoner.
There are a few birds that love flowers. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is fairly common in Cape May in summer. If you plant the right flowers you are guaranteed to get them in your garden. They are truly stunning and constant source of entertainment. I will always remember seeing my first Hummingbird. It flew about 100 yards past me before I realized it was a bird and not an insect. There are no Hummingbirds in Europe, but as good as we have it here, it pales compared to South America where there are hundreds of types that come in an incredible array of shapes, sizes and colors.
“It’s exciting. It’s visually stunning. It’s like nothing you have ever seen before and it’s hot of the presses. It’s Richard Crossley’s, The Crossley ID Guide – Eastern Birds. It’s the first real-life approach to bird identification. Whether you are a beginner, expert, or anywhere in between, The Crossley ID Guide(published by Princeton University Press) will vastly improve your ability to identify birds.
“What’s so different about the Crossley ID Guide? Everything. Crossley has designed his guide to reflect the way we see and identify birds. We identify birds by their size, shape, structure, behavior, habitat, and field marks. We [see] birds at close range, at middle and long distances, on the ground, in flight, in trees, and on the water….If you want to be a better birder you will find the new Crossley ID Guide to be [a] major innovation and a valuable tool.”
— Wayne Mones, Audubon.org