Click image for larger version.

When he saw this image my friend Dom wrote:

Humankind was created half-blind. If, instead of about 1/24th of a second for visual persiistence, we had 1/1000th of a second, our sight perception of birds in flight would be so much more dramatic. What is a now a blur would have been clear and articulated. Thank God for cameras that make up for our faulty sight.

And what fascinates me here is this was really a "snap" shot. That is, I was walking on a boardwalk at Stony Brook Wildlife Preserve when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I spun and shot without really thinking or aiming. Had I done either I probably would have missed this shot, because the subject was a common grackle - not a bird we pay much attention to, or usually think of as beautiful. But as Dom concluded:

Your frozen silhouette of the grackle could easily be the logo for an airline. You captured flow and froze form with one fell swoop of your camera. Fantastic yet factual. What a shot!

And what a boost to my ego! But the truth is simpler. I have excellent equipment and lucky timing. Like many such cameras, the Canon Rebel can shoot a burst - nearly three shots in a second. In this case I shot twice without thinking. The first shot is interesting, but mundane. The second caught this unusually graceful posture.

The bottom line for me is what Dom alludes to first - the camera is helping me see many things that I was not able to pick up in the live instant of observing. And such things carry on to later live observations. Having seen this frozen moment in flight I will never look at a grackle quite the same again.

Posted by Greg Stone at April 9, 2004 07:14 AM
Comments

As a fellow bird watcher and lover, I can attest to the grace of grackles in the air. I often study birds in flight even when they are distant silhouettes, partly so that I can try to recognize them from flight behavior, but also simply because bird flight is beautiful. They are the embodiment of flight, really.

But I digress.

Common Grackles have a wonderful habit of dipping their central tailfeather and raising their outer tailfeathers in flight, so that their tail, viewed from behind looks like the letter 'V'. Perhaps many birds do this, but I have only noticed in in grackles. I can't tell if the grackle in your picture is doing it or not, it looks like he may be, slightly.

I have always wanted to see a Boat-Tailed Grackle in flight... their tails are purportedly enourmous, and I would love to see what they do with them in flight.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this picture!

Posted by: Chuck S. at April 16, 2004 12:54 PM
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