Western Wood-Peewee

I often make the observation that one of the reasons I’m a bird photographer rather than a birder is because many of the trappings of traditional birding simply don’t appeal to me – keeping lists, in particular.  But I’ll admit that getting a “lifer” rings my bell (for me, a lifer means my first good shots of the species, not the first time I’ve seen one).

This Western Wood-Peewee from my first Montana trip this month was a bell-ringer for me.


western wood peewee 5232 ron dudley

A relatively drab bird on rusty barbed wire with a similarly colored background makes for a shot that is basically monochromatic but I’m fine with that and I also like the graphic lines of the two strands of rusty barbed wire.



western wood peewee 5263 ron dudley

This bird was “sit and wait hunting” on the wire for small insects.  Because they’re so small and light-weight their take-off is incredibly fast – so much so that the photographer has virtually no chance to get a take-off shot unless…



western wood peewee 5264 ron dudley

 1/3200, f/5.6, ISO 640. 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light

you just luck out and happen to press the shutter button at the right moment, which is exactly what happened here.  I’m glad I had the shutter speed for the shot.

These birds usually hunt from high perches so I was happy to catch a few of them hunting from the wire this low to the ground and at eye level



16 comments to Western Wood-Peewee

  • Linda

    I love the Peewee … love the call but such a tiny bird so hard to spot. Thanks for taking and sharing these awesome shots. luv em.

  • Mike

    That’s a cool shot Ron. Almost falcon-like in it’s wing set manner. Yesterday I spent some time at one of our owl sites with a visitor who had lists for everything: Life, Utah, Backyard, Pelagic, North American, Neotropical, etc. I don’t think she even paused to absorb the beauty of the Flammy before breaking out her journal to tick off another species. But birds mean different things to different people, and it all adds up to an interesting community. I prefer the way you keep track!

    • Thanks, Mike. You’re right, we all see birds in at least a slightly different light. And as long as folks appreciate birds and do them no harm I don’t really care how that appreciation manifests itself.

  • I am a big fan of the muted birds as well. The subtle colours are often very, very beautiful when you take the time to really ‘look’. And I love the texture of the plumage you have captured here. Thank you.

    • Elephant’s Child, As an example of the “muted birds” (compared to the male) I think of the female Mountain Bluebird. The male is spectacular but the bright blues are almost harsh. The female is subtly and beautifully colored and some of my favorite shots are of her.

  • Another amazing image of a very challenging subject! I am so glad that I discovered your blog!

  • Wonderful photos, and the last one is simply amazing. A bird doesn’t have to be brightly colored to be beautiful. You know, I’ve been on one walk with ‘birders’ and it was a real turn-off for me. I love spotting birds and being able to identify them, but I like to take my time and would far rather watch them than try to find as many different species as possible. I don’t need notches on my bird-book to feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. That’s probably a good thing because I don’t see fast, hear fast, or identify quickly… I’m much happier getting to know their personalities and behaviors – connecting with them, which is what you seem to do.

    • We all do what works for us, Susan. They used to call birders “birdwatchers”. That’s more what I am – a watcher. When I’m observing them through my powerful lens I get to see details of structure and behavior that most folks miss. And then if I’m lucky and got the shot I can see it again in my images. That’s what works for me and I love it!

  • Patty Chadwick

    it’s interesting how many birds, hummers included, have that tiny white spot at the back of the eye. will have to be more observant and see how many do. Some birders I know jut carry binoculars. Some photographers I know carry a ton of camera equipment, a bunch of filters and lenses (one lens alone can weigh at least half a ton), plus a tripod or two…If they’re still shooting film, it’s even worse. Many wear vests and backpacks just to carry it all…some even employ bearers, donkeys, pack horses and/or mules and some even travel with a whole herd of llamas. In fact some…..

    • Patty, I had to clean and wash my pickup yesterday after the Montana trip. All the dust inside the vehicle from the dirt roads required that I get everything out of the truck, open the doors, and use an air compressor to blow it out first (it looked like a Sahara dust storm). So I had all of the photo paraphernalia that Mia and I use (sans cameras and lenses which were safely tucked away elsewhere) spread all over the garage. I swear there was a half-acre of that stuff!

  • Patty Chadwick

    HOW DO YOU DO IT??? You caught him in mid-launch!!! I love the subtle-colored birds as much as the flashy one and this one has such bright eyes and cute feet!

  • Hi Ron

    This take-off shot you got is an absolute gem!