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Snow Buntings at Shirley's Bay

A flock of Snow Buntings has been lingering at the Shirley's Bay boat launch area for the last little while. These are sparrow-like, arctic-breeding songbirds, that winter on open land throughout much of the U.S. and Canada. I find them adorable. I also find them elusive! Prior to yesterday, I had never seen Snow Buntings within the city limits of Ottawa (outlying rural areas like St. Isadore are generally a better bet), nor had the opportunity to photograph them.

Snow Buntings are masters of camouflage. Their winter plumage is a mix of white, black, and orangey-brown, perfectly designed to blend in with the colors of a snowed-over field. Yesterday I learned that their camouflage is equally effective on rocky river shores. Repeatedly I was amazed to see the flock--briefly flushed--settle down a short distance from me and utterly melt into the landscape. Even on bare rock.

With this fellow, I stalked up close and carefully timed my shot, and sharpened and contrast-enhanced it, to make him stand out as much as possible. (Note nonetheless how all his colors are shared by the surrounding landscape, with the exception of the brighter whites as there hasn't been snow yet.)

And with this photo I didn't do any of those things. Quick, where's Waldo?

Autumn At Andrew Haydon ParkA photogenic hawk


October 30th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
They are indeed cute... glad you got a chance to get up close and take good photos!

November 4th, 2012 at 11:19 pm
what beautiful birds

November 4th, 2012 at 11:19 pm
thank you for sharing - i would have never known