Birder's Guide

NOV 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 12 of 43

11 November 2016 | Birder's Guide to Gear photo of almost any bird with the SX50. With one exception. Challenge III: Fly Like an Eagle • Swainson's Hawk Much of the time I was out there getting photos for this article, a couple of Swain- son's Hawks were at and near the preserve. Several of my photos of the perched birds turned out fine—for example, an adult against a mosaic of cottonwood foliage in late-afternoon light. But when it comes to getting photos of the hawks in flight, I just don't have anything to show for my efforts. Neither do I have any photos of cormo- rants or pelicans in flight. As to robins, phoebes, and Bushtits, fuhgeddaboudit. I've seen some okay—nowhere near great, but okay—SX50 photos of big birds in flight: soaring raptors and such. Those were the handiwork of kids a third my age: kids with better eyes, steadier hands, and faster reflexes than mine. But I have yet to see a passable photo, courtesy of the SX50, of a flying passerine that was anything other than a soaring raven. For as long as I've been the editor of Birding, I've been a champion of photos of birds in flight. What could be more quintessentially avian than flight? We need more—many more—photos of birds in flight, but we'll have to get them with cam- eras other than the SX50. Birding with a Purpose • African Collared-Dove I've thus far sidestepped what many con- sider to be the greatest virtue of the SX50: its documentation value. It's so easy to use that, unless you left the memory card or battery at home (been there, done that), you'll probably get a diagnostic photo of that state or county mega. I've already mentioned that the photos for this article are from early July—not the best time of year in my neck of the woods for rarities. Then again, I can show you a photo of a species that isn't on the Colo- rado list! For the past year or so, Colorado and Wyoming birders have been gradually The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is not the birder's only option for small, lightweight, economical "bridge cameras", so named because they bridge the gap between expensive SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras and low-performance point-and-shoots. The SX50 has been superseded by the SX60, but that model's recep - tion by the birding community has been lukewarm. An SX70, said to be imminent, is something for birders to pay attention to. Other bridge cameras include the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150, the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114), and the Nikon CoolPix P600. For further reading on bridge cameras, see online commentaries by Greg Neise (, Bill Schmoker (, scroll to p. 185), and Lillian Stokes ( African Collared-Dove Photo © Ted Floyd

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