Project Chekov: Cedar Waxwing and Cardinal

We have reached day three of Project Chekov and to switch it up just a little we have two birds featured today (yeah!).  To be completely honest, the second one was kind of thrown in because I figured it was a good way to get them out of the way quickly.  But let’s get to that in a minute and get right into the featured bird.  I Actually thought this would be a new bird to the blog, however, a quick verification through the blog search capability proved differently.  The Cedar Waxwing actually made its presence known back in Nov 2012 (link here).  Those previous shots were not exactly the best execution and even coined the term crispiless to acknowledge that they were on the fuzzy side (I still like that word).  These first few turned out a lot better in my humble opinion.

The above one is clearly my favorite with the berry in the beak.  These are one of the easier birds to identify thanks to their thick black eye eyeliner and cropped back Mohawk.  Just call them the punk rockers of the birding world.  There are actually two types of these birds, one being Cedar and the other the Bohemian.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a shot showing their back coloring or it would be very obvious since the Bohemian has more colorful highlights.  The Bohemian also hangs out predominantly in the Northwest where the Cedar has a much broader range.

Pretty confident this is the Cedar based on where it was taken (Midwest) and I would have noted it if I saw the prettier highlights so I could make the extra check mark in the bird list.  These are pretty cool birds

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Waxwing and a more common bird to the area

They feast on berries (as you can tell by the first shot) and insects depending on the season and Wikipedia characterizes them as flock birds.  This is odd since I rarely see them with other Waxwings and until reading that figured they were solitaire birds.  An interesting tidbit learned from our friends over at Wikipedia, they are a social bird that has demonstrated concern for their fellow flockmates by passing food to one another when accessibility to food is restricted.  The three shots have been zoomed significantly and therefore not gallery worthy by any means.  They were added her simply because of the composition.  The poses are quite appealing and will provide me a reminder of similar compositions to look for out in the field.

By the way, in case you are wondering, they are known for their waxy red highlights on their feathers.  Their wings are suppose to have a glossy look to them but never really witnessed that in the field – now the red highlights are very noticeable.

Took me awhile to get the following shot right – this year was spent trying to become more aware of the surroundings when out on the shoot.  Nothing is more disappointing than thinking you have a great shot in the tin only to realize there was a branch or other object in the way.  This probably sounds like an easy thing to check, but The Beast is cutting through a large distance which tends to artificially compensate for small objects in its path to the subject.  Can be handy when shooting through a fence, but annoying when accidentally shooting through obstructions (not to mention they tend to grab focus)

Now on to the second bird which has been featured a number of times on this site – at least 7 or more times based on quick count.  Also one of those birds I have definitely been getting better at photographing based on those past posts (view here) – make that A LOT better.

I was trying new things out in the digital darkroom and purposely processed these a little darker in order to produce a deeper red hue. Wanted a nice contrast to show how beautiful these birds look in their natural/darker surroundings.

The shot above came out really nice having that small amount of sunlight fight through the trees and land on just the Cardinal’s head.  The downside of forcing the darker tones is you tend to get a little more of the background edges showing through since those edges are getting the same edge treatment – could have masked those out on the treatments, but decided to leave them in.

The one below turned out nicely as well – just wish I had shifted over an inch or two when taking the shot to lift that one back leaf off the beak a little.  Hope most of you have noticed by now, but I tend to align the compositions and crops to the picture frame – translated, every chance I get, linear lines are oriented to the frame corners as in the branches below.  Would be surprised if you didn’t already notice that since it is noticeable on just about ALL my shots but just mentioning it in case you were looking for insights in my composition process.

I did notice there was a shot that did have the annoying leaf pulled off the bird a little, but lost the viewer tilt of the head – my preferred pose per my previous post.

I’ll likely print these Cardinals out and pick one for my wall.  We had a lot of Cardinals where I grew up and they always bring back good memories.

The following shot was taken at our feeders and putting this one out there in tribute to this feathered friends determination.

You can’t tell it from this particular shot (on purpose), but this Cardinal only has one eye.  Not sure what happened to the little bird but it was kind of sad when taking the shots because it was clearly visible through the big glass.  I’m a softy for injured animals (except for moles of course).  To the bird’s credit it, it was making due and appears to have no problems flying or even grabbing seed with the mono-vision.  This shot just summed it  – it all depends on how you choose to view something  that sets the tone.

That’s a wrap folks!


2 comments on “Project Chekov: Cedar Waxwing and Cardinal

  1. Ron

    Ahem, I believe I was the one who confirmed the Cedar Waxwing in your original article (which you figured anyway, but what the heck). I do see them in small flocks, like several birds in a tree or a couple of bushes, not flying together as in a flock. Whenever I think of them my brain starts going “and the last little piggie went wee-wee-wee, all the way home” because that’s how they sound, only at a frequency not far below the hearing threshold.

    At one time I was thinking of recording bird calls with a recorder that went beyond 20kHz to see if there were higher frequency sounds we just didn’t hear, but I couldn’t find a microphone or recorder that went higher than 20KHz! They manage to get a flat frequency response up to the limit of human ears and then the response drops to zero. Still, I think it would be useful to do if there are higher-frequency microphones, in the same way as there are colors in flowers that are in the ultraviolet and even an ultraviolet rainbow.

    That first photo of the Cedar Waxwing is perfect!! I suggest you enter it into competition head-to-head against Linda.

    The Cardinal shots are great, too, and I like the Robin Hood in Technicolor approach you took. As you know, one of the pictures in my office at work is a Cardinal picture of yours. These two bird species are just beautiful creatures.

    Thanks–another Chekov post. That’s probably about it for them.


  2. admin

    Yes, I think you did confirm it so appreciations are due. ..and that piggie thing.. you might want to have someone look at that hehehe

    I would suspect there are higher spectrum calls – some kind of secret code like “Hey, call up everyone in the county, this dude is filling up his feeders”

    Thanks, although actually Linda has pulled off a pretty impressive eagle shot (I taught her everything she knows) so I’m going to need to up my game a little. Not sure that first one will cut it, but there are many more I can choose from.

    Male Cardinals just look good against most backdrops – still partial to the shots when it is snowing (think that is the one you have) – the red just looks good in the duller gray surroundings although these green shots turned out pretty good

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