Inquisitive male downy woodpecker

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Inquisitive male downy woodpecker

We see a lot of downy woodpeckers on our property. Like many small birds, however, they move very fast and hop from branch to branch constantly. On the bright side this means they often strike an amusing, interesting, or inquisitive pose and (if I’m fast enough) I can capture it, just as you see here.

As I said, these little birds move pretty fast. Trying to capture them by following them is nearly impossible: if you can zoom in close then a quick movement is sure to mean they fly out of the frame before you can think about shifting the camera. Try to follow them like this just a few times and it’s easy to see what an exercise in futility it is!

The best solution is to find a location where you want to photograph your subject and prefocus there. The bird will almost certainly not land in the exact spot you’ve chosen, but somewhere close. At that point it’s easy to shift the camera and focus just a little to capture the moment.

See the original on Flickr.

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