Readers’ wildlife photos

December 9, 2020 • 8:00 am

John Avise’s “Faux Duck O’ the Week” feature will be back Sunday, but I also have some themed bird pictures from him. The theme today: bird shadows. John’s comments and IDs are indented. Click on photos to enlarge them.

In an earlier post, Jerry showed a batch of my bird photos that I referred to as “avian reflections”.  The current batch of photos I call “avian shadows.” Much like bird reflections, shadows can give you “two views of a bird for the price of one”.  One difference between a shadow and a reflection is that a shadow is always black whereas a reflection can be in color.

It’s relatively easy to photograph a bird with its shadow.  Just follow these simple instructions:

(a)     choose a sunny day;
(b)     go out early or late in the day so that the sun is not too directly
overhead;
(c)     find a suitable “blank canvas” (such as a clean sandy beach) for a
photographic backdrop;
(d)     find a cooperative bird;
(e)     have the bird stand or fly sideways to the sun;
(f)     compose the picture so both the bird and the shadow are captured;
(g)     and, finally, get lucky.

The following photos offer examples of the kinds of shadowy outcomes you might then expect.  The last photograph is a “triple header” showing both a reflection and a shadow in addition to the bird itself.  Now my ongoing quest is to photograph a reflection of a shadow, or even a shadow of a reflection!

Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola):

Great Egret (Ardea alba):

Green Heron (Butorides virescens):

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa):

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis):

Sanderling (Calidris alba):

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula):

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia):

Western Gull (Larus occidentalis):

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus):

Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus):

Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala):

Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni):

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta):

Sanderling (Calidris alba) reflection + shadow:

12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. All these pictures were taken near my home in Southern California. Another difference between a shadow and a reflection is that a reflection is usually upside-down whereas a shadow is normally rightside-up!

  1. Beautiful! I like these shadow pictures even better than the reflective ones. The Black Turnstone is also a 3-for, just not as complete as the Sanderling. Thank you for sharing!

  2. What wonderful photos! I just love the shadows….like a simplified drawing of the bird.
    Thank you for these!

    1. Yes, at last count I have photos of about 1250 avian species (ca. 10% of the world’s extant species), with an average of perhaps 20 photos per species (I try to get both sexes, adults and juveniles, and both basic and alternate plumages). That means I must have about 25,000 avian photos altogether. Of course, not all of them are of good quality.

  3. The snowy egret is an amazing photo. Photographing bird and shadow both in flight cannot happen very often.

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