Most of us watch birds from afar, as they pass by in a flash of color, perch briefly high in a tree, or dive for a fish out on a lake or the ocean. Even with the help of the most powerful binoculars and scopes, those glimpses come at an arms’ length and are often momentary. 

That is why the power of a telephoto lens and a fully cropped image can offer a view you get no other way. In these 10 favorite close ups you can see the iridescent sheen on the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the wisp of red around the beak the Red-bellied Woodpecker. 

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These photos are taken with 500 and 600 millimeter lenses, sometimes with a tripod that keeps the camera steady to capture the utmost detail.

The way the Tufted Titmouse grip its branch is worth tuning into.

Then the frames are deeply cropped to move you close up to the bird’s image. That combination can magnify the photos by a factor of hundreds.

This will often do more than just help us to see the fabric of their plumage and the curl of their tiny feet. It lets us look closely at the posture of the moment. Sometimes an expression of calm, or fright, or hunger is visible in the closeup.

These are my current favorites, but just like the digital carousel that serves them up on our website, we’ll add new photos from time to time to keep this fresh with the birding seasons. The photos above rotate every few seconds. You can stop on a photo by hovering over it with your cursor, and you can skip around the gallery by clicking on a small thumbnails to the left.


The White-breasted Nuthatch dons a look of utter intensity as he looks around for trouble.

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