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Song Sparrow?
Lens: SMC Pentax M 400/5.6 Camera: Pentax K10D Photo Location: Waterloo ON ISO: 200 Shutter Speed: 1/200s Aperture: F9.5 
Posted By: 8540tomg, 06-08-2010, 03:10 PM

I think this is a Song Sparrow or possibly a Savannah Sparrow - not sure which. Ornithologists feel free to chime in on this one.



In any case he/she was chasing bugs and seems to have caught one.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 06-08-2010 at 04:13 PM. Reason: typo
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06-09-2010, 06:35 AM   #2
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Not a bad shot! I'd just crop out the 3 extra twigs on the right, as they're distracting IMO.

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06-09-2010, 07:06 AM   #3
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Song Sparrow. See the central spot on the breast? Savannah does not have that. It will also at certain times have a yellowish eyebrow, tail is shorter and notched, Song Sparrow tail is longer and rounded. The central spot on breast is the main ID feature.

No, I'm not an Ornithologist, far from it, I have several bird books and had to look it up. I only have one with me, I usually keep 3 or 4 in my vehicle, but on road trips just two, one birds, one flowers. I know a few birds and flowers by sight, most I have to look up. Sparrows are difficult, there are so many.

Very nice shot. I'm trying to get a good shot of a yellow warbler of some kind so I can ID it, but every time I step outside it flies up into the heavy leaves of an Oak and I can barely see the little guy, much less get a decent shot. So far I've gotten nothing but the yellow breast...and too far away for really good focus with the 18-55.

He can't crop the twigs, it would chop off part of the tail unless my eyes deceive me...
06-10-2010, 04:21 AM   #4
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Thanks for looking Adam/Pete.

Those twigs are a bit distracting as you note Adam but Pete was spot on about cutting off the tail if I cropped them out. Song Sparrow it is then. Thanks for the confirmation Pete.

Tom G


Last edited by 8540tomg; 06-11-2010 at 08:31 AM. Reason: typo
06-10-2010, 05:08 AM   #5
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Nice shot of that sparrow. On the twigs you could clone them out in PhotoShop or another program.
06-10-2010, 05:19 AM   #6
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Tom - You're welcome, I only brought one bird book and one flower book with me on a road trip, but they're sufficient, and I always like to be able to identify birds anyway. I'm wishing I had brought the insect book though...

I'd leave the twigs, may be distracting, but it gives the shot character as well. Sometimes imperfections actually make it a better shot. decisions like that give me fits sometimes...
06-10-2010, 08:00 AM   #7
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Thanks Pete,

I was pleased to get a reasonably sharp image and getting the bug in the beak was an added bonus.

Tom G
06-10-2010, 11:14 AM   #8
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great close up !! wonderful detail and having the little one with lunch in it's mouth is fantastic !!
thanks for sharing, dave m
(kudos as well for doing this with a fully manual lens)

06-10-2010, 11:52 AM   #9
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Hi Tom,
Pretty much agree with Pete, (central breast spot), Songs seem
to have many variations in apperance though. Have one I shot
a few years back (on film) thats almost black.

Assume bird foraged above ground (in trees)
savanahs spend more time on ground, scatchin around.

Work your doing with that 400 is magnificent!
06-10-2010, 12:06 PM   #10
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Thanks Dave, Bill

Dave - I don't know that shooting a stationary subject like the bird above is all that more difficult with a manual focus lens than an AF lens. I don't have a lot (or any) experience with longer AF telephotos but it is my understanding that twigs and the like mess with the AF sensor and they do a lot of searching. Several other users of longer AF lenses have confirmed this point and say they often switch AF off with their lenses. I try to console myself with this thought. As for birds on the fly, this is another matter entirely. I don't even attempt such shots manually.

In any case I like the challenge of shooting manually with the M 400/5.6. I miss a lot of shots but every now and then I manage a winner. There is a certain sense of accomplishment I get from this type of shooting which is missing with AF lenses. That being said I wouldn't turn down a DA* 300/4.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 06-10-2010 at 02:47 PM. Reason: typo
06-11-2010, 05:21 AM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
As for birds on the fly, this is another matter entirely.
Boy howdy and a bottle of root beer...

I've tried birds on the wing with 35mm and a 70-210 zoom, it's quite the challenge. Race cars too, horses running, kids, basically any quick shot. Took me a lot of shooting to get to the point I could find the subject and focus quick enough. But with a lot of practice, it can be done.
06-13-2010, 10:46 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paleo Pete Quote
Boy howdy and a bottle of root beer...

I've tried birds on the wing with 35mm and a 70-210 zoom, it's quite the challenge. Race cars too, horses running, kids, basically any quick shot. Took me a lot of shooting to get to the point I could find the subject and focus quick enough. But with a lot of practice, it can be done.

Thanks for the encouragement Pete.

I'll keep trying but so far nothing but smudges on the BIF front with the M 400/5.6.

Tom G
06-14-2010, 09:04 PM   #13
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Same here, I've tried to get a few small birds in the yard, not too high up, a couple are half decent, but nothing I'd be willing to show off on here. Did get one clear shot of a Vulture gliding around, but backlit so it's just a silhouette, not good enough...most have been either blurry (motion blur) or backlit, except for one Scissor Tailed flycatcher, no motion blur, but out of focus blur.
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