Photographing Pine Siskins
Pine Siskins are nomadic songbirds that do not migrate through SW Michigan every year. When they do grace us with a visit in the spring or fall, they come loudly in flocks of 25 or more. Pine Siskins are darkly streaked small finches with flashing yellow wing markings and notched tails. Their beaks are slimmer and more pointy than the gold and house finches that are plentiful in our yard most of the year. Pine Siskins stay only a few days. When they depart, tranquility returns to the feeding area.
Getting Closer to Wildlife
I set up my blind in our yard one bright, warm morning in early October. I gathered everything I needed (camera, 500mm lens, tripod, and stool) and then stealthily prepared myself to photograph the Pine Siskins I had seen the previous day. After 10 minutes or so, the Pine Siskins came, as well as several persistent bees who squeezed their way through the crevices and into my blind. I got out, sprayed the blind with insect repellant, re-entered and rearranged myself and my equipment. Despite all this commotion, the Pine Siskins perched at the feeders or in the tree nearest to them. Apparently, there is no need to be sneaky with this species. Bold and tame, the Siskins will come regardless of whether I am hidden inside or out in full view.
Pine Siskin, waiting his turn at the feeder.
ISO800; f/5; 1/640 Second
New Photography Accomodations
My current blind is more like a tent that collapses whenever the center crossbar is disturbed. It’s advertised to “hunters and photographers”, but I think the “photographer” keyword was an afterthought. The blind is wide, but not quite as tall as I am, so I must remain slightly bent over during setup, entry, equipment installation, and exit. I use it only in my yard because it’s heavy and awkward to transport. I’ve spent many uncomfortable hours in it and when bird activity is slow, I ponder acquiring a new cloak.
First and foremost, my car is my main blind. For those times when I need to be more secretive, a more photographer-centric blind has caught my eye. It’s the Rod Planck’s N-Visibag. No set up is needed. You just climb into this cameo sack with your stool, DSLR camera, and tripod and pull it up around you. It’s made of light, breathable, water repellant 100% polyester. Teardown is a quick and quiet process. According to the manufacturer, this blind is roomy, windproof, covered with concealing camouflage and has a wide screened view port big enough to fit a 600mm lens.
Sounds so much more convenient than my current blind. Guess I will put these accommodations on my Christmas list.