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Insects

The first thing people say when they see my bird photos is “You should do something with these.” So I did. Welcome to my Mostly Birds website! This is a portfolio of my work. I hope that birders will enjoy it, but my target audience is my friends who don’t know much about birds but want to know more—people who send me cellphone photos of blurry smudges they want me to identify.

 

The second thing people say is “What kind of camera do you use?” The literal answer is a Nikon D5600 with a 70mm–300mm lens. When I bought my digital SLR camera in 2019 I did not know that it could take photos of birds. As I have since learned, “birding lenses” start at 400mm; my lens is not as powerful as a birding lens. But I was close to 70 years old and soon realized that a larger lens would be too hard on my neck and shoulders and too cumbersome to throw in my bike basket. 

 

I am thankful for my wonderful Nikon equipment, but I know that the primary reason I get these shots is that I am a birder. I have trained my eyes for decades to find birds and follow them and these are the same eyes that are looking through the Nikon viewfinder. The finger that used to focus the binoculars is now clicking the shutter.

 

As a birder, I am hung up on wanting to know what species of bird I am looking at. This is a rational, left-brained activity—what color are its eyes/beak/legs? Does it pump its tail? What markings are visible when it flies? Once I am on that quest, camera or binoculars to my eyes, I shift seamlessly into a right-brained experience of being in nature. People zipping by on the path behind me have no idea that there is a tiny ruby-crowned kinglet jumping around in this bush, nor what a marvel a ruby-crowned kinglet is, nor that such a thing even exists. 

 

Except for the Florida Birds section, all the birds—and insects—on this site are species that can be found in New England. (That doesn’t mean I took all the photos in New England.) I have only included bird species for which I have enough good-quality photos to make a short slide show. There are some common species that are missing, for instance crows and owls. There are over 900 photos on this site, which is probably too much to take in in one sitting. You are welcome to revisit as often as you like.

 

I have organized the website by habitat. There are birds like the chickadee that come to the feeders in my backyard. I live a few blocks from a river where I hope to see herons and ducks. At the seashore I expect to see sandpipers and seagulls. But there are many bird species that can be found in more than one habitat, for instance seagulls who are on the river as well as at the beach. I have put each bird into the habitat where I primarily expect to see it, but this is just for organizational purposes. The exceptions are "Warblers" and “Birds of Prey,” birds I group together in my mind irrespective of habitat.

 

To navigate the site on a computer:

  • I recommend viewing the website in full-screen mode.

  • Clicking on “Birds” in the menu at the top of the page will take you to the habitat groups. 

  • Clicking on any of these will take you to a list of all the species in that group. Clicking on a particular species will take you into the slide show for that species. 

  • I recommend clicking on the first photo in the slide show to enlarge the photos to full-screen size. Just be aware that this will keep you from seeing the captions that go with the photos. If you have a question about a photo, return to it at the smaller size to read the caption.

  • This website is called "Mostly Birds" because it also contains photos of insects. To see the insects, go back to the main menu.

 

To navigate the site on a cell phone:

  • To view the menu, click on the three short lines near the top of the screen.

  • Clicking on “Birds” will take you to the habitat groups. 

  • Clicking on any of these will take you to a list of all the species in that group. Clicking on a particular species will take you into the slide show for that species. 

  • I recommend clicking on the first photo in the slide show to enlarge the photos to full-screen size. Just be aware that this will keep you from seeing the captions that go with the photos. If you have a question about a photo, return to it at the smaller size to read the caption.

  • This website is called "Mostly Birds" because it also contains photos of insects. To see the insects, go back to the main menu.

 

I want to thank my photographer father Bud Schlivek for teaching me to take black & white photographs with a hand-held light meter when I was in the third grade, after which we printed them in his darkroom. My thanks also go to my nephew Walker Blackwell (Bud's grandson) for introducing me to Adobe Lightroom (my photo database), and to my web designer Tom Penhale for figuring out how to set up my atypical website and teaching me how to use its software. 

Photo by Hal Morgan

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