As we made our way out of the pines we heard a lot of chirping. As we looked to our right we saw a large group of White Wing Crossbills harvesting the nuts out of the pine cones. They have a beak specially designed for this. They are in the Finch family and have striking colors. The females are yellow and the males are red. They have also found a winter home here in Salisbury, Mass.
Photographing small birds is technique in itself. Even with a big lens you have to get very close to have such a small bird fill the frame. They are also very quick moving; that means you have be just as quick to get the shot. Patience and determination is needed, even though that doesn’t always get the shot you desire. Hoping to find a pair on the same cone was my goal. I was able to get this shot with a 5-second window of time. A female and male sharing the same pinecone — very lucky. I was shooting with an Olympus E3 and 35-100mm F2 with a 2x telecoverter to double my reach.
Following the flock from tree to tree and burst shooting on the drive mode allowed me to capture more frames per second of these very fast moving birds. I had a beautiful blue sky that day, which enhanced this photo with a nice bright background. I hope these pine cone bandits come back this winter!
Kathryn Nazzaro works for Hunt’s Photo & Video in sales. In fact, she was “top sales person” for 2007 and 2008. Kathryn says, “For as long as I can remember, I have loved the outdoors and all the beauty it has to offer. I started exploring the outdoors at the age of three, by catching snakes, frogs, turtles and birds. I began fishing at my “Nana’s” camp in Raymond, N.H., from the dock or by rowboat all by myself. I’d row across the lake to an island to eat the wild blueberries.
“Loving nature and being fascinated by it has shaped my life into how I live today. The outdoors is my church. I have grown to love outdoor photography and have been active in this area for 17 years. Teaching myself by books and lots of practice has brought me lots of great photos and experiences to remember. Being onboard with Hunt’s Photo and Video sales team has introduced me to a lot of great outdoor photographers across the country.”