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Painting the Hill Country

A Male painted bunting (Passerina ciris) perches on a small twig
Alert Painted Bunting

A male Painted Bunting perches on a small limb near the small town of Driftwood in the Texas Hill Country.

This time last week I was sitting in my favorite place. The Texas Hill Country. After working a few days in Austin, we took a long weekend and stayed at a cabin outside the small town of Driftwood. We were investigating our new digs when I noticed a small bird at one of the bird feeders. We were surprised and delighted to see a bird rare in the Dallas area. There, sitting at the feeder was a Painted Bunting.

Painted buntings resemble miniature Parrots and migrate into Texas during the spring. I have uttered many cuss words trying to capture these birds. They are very shy and easily spooked. They prefer the thick undergrowth that the cedar and juniper trees provide in the Hill Country. But there he was, sitting at the feeder, just as pretty as you please.

This is the first time I have been this close to these birds. I told Tracy that tomorrow was going to be the day I finally get my image of the Painted Bunting. Early the next morning I poured a cup of coffee, grabbed a lawn chair from the porch, and set up my camera on the tripod. I decided to sit about 15 feet from the feeder. Below the feeder was an old cedar stump, the perfect location for my long-awaited shot. I sat for hours. Three days to be exact. Sitting and waiting for that bird to land exactly where I wanted it to land. The buntings would fly into the trees and sit in the shadows. Then they would fly to the feeders and retreat right back to the shadows. It was getting frustrating. I snapped a few pictures of them at the feeders but that was not the picture I conjured in my mind. I wanted them on that darn stump. I caught myself trying to snap a picture as soon as I saw the birds. The movement I was creating was spooking the birds. So I decided to try to be a little patient and just sit and wait. I needed to let the birds do whatever they were going to do. After three days of waiting, it finally happened. The male painted bunting sailed down from the feeder and landed on my stump. I snapped a quick shot and he was gone. It happened that fast. When it was all said and done I had taken three images. Only one wasn’t blurry. I’m proud to be able to share this image with you.

Sometimes as wildlife photographers we need to just sit and wait. Maybe it’s only thirty minutes or maybe its three days. For me, capturing Painting the Hill Country was worth the wait.

A male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) grabs some bird seed from a tube filter.
Painted Bunting on Feeder

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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view


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