Insect Eaters

        “All this is perfectly distinct to the observant eye, and yet could easily pass unnoticed by most.”                           Henry David Thoreau’s second to last sentence in his last journal entry (03 November 1861)


Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America


Since the neighborhood disruption last week, I have been carrying my Canon 7D camera with a 100-400mm lens on both my morning and afternoon walks. These slow paced walks are definitely not cardio workouts and I’m not sure how much it is benefiting my health. It has, however, opened up a new world to me. This secret world has been going on around me for years and I really have been mostly ignorant of its existence.Warbling Vireo, Vireo gilvus, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

 While I’ve always been aware of the “seed eaters” (the ones that come to the bird feeders – chickadees, nuthatches, towhees, finches, jays, grosbeaks, goldfinches, etc.), I really haven’t been very aware of the “insect eaters” (warblers, vireos, flycatchers, gnatcatchers, etc.)Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4683W1WML

Over the summer – and even more so in the last few days – I’ve become keenly aware of the LGBs (little gray birds) that are flitting through the ponderosa, oaks and PJ. While they may appear to be LGBs, they are actually – upon close examination – really stunning in their colors, variety and numbers. The diversity is astonishing.  Cassin's Vireo, Vireo cassinii, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

A number of these photos are not of publication quality. They did, however, make it possible for me to identify birds that I could never have identified in the field.

Warbler 5417W1WMLBlack-throated Gray Warbler 5379W1WML


The Loggerhead Shrike (which is really not an LBG) caused a bit of a discussion with some local birders because several field guides state that the black mask does not meet over the bill in the Northern. This appears to be the case in these photos. Also, the bird is very pale which would favor the Northern although it was probably an immature Loggerhead which (according to the Cornell Lab website) are gray and not brown. The fact that it was here in La Plata County at the end of August would indicate that it was a Loggerhead. Loggerhead Shrike 5336bW1WML

One other note about the Loggerhead Shrike photos – they were taken at ISO 1250!!! When I began looking at my photos at the end of the day, I noticed that there was a lot of noise. That’s when I noticed the high ISO in the metadata. I never photograph at that high an ISO when out photographing birds. The highest I might go might be 800.

Shrike 5337W1WML

Earlier that day, I was showing some of my bird photos that were still in my camera to the folks on the Wednesday morning bird walk. A couple of the people were holding my camera and scrolling through the various images. Someone must have also hit the ISO button while they were scrolling and changed the settings. Lesson learned. Always check your camera settings before a photo session – and especially after someone else has been holding your camera. Audubon's Warbler 0450W1WMT

Virgina's Warbler 5461W1WMT

And check out those little insect eaters.  It will open up a whole new world to you.


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