Ruby-crowned Kinglet – A Sideways Takeoff

And this guy’s even showing off some of his ruby crown.

Once I learned last week that it was actually possible to get a sharp shot of a diabolically fast Ruby-crowned Kinglet in flight or at takeoff I made it a point to attempt doing exactly that whenever the opportunity presented itself. Doing so involved using astronomically fast shutter speeds (1/5000 to 1/8000 sec.) when I could get them and framing the bird so I had enough room in the direction I thought it might take off.

I missed some shots I’d likely have been able to get without those efforts but I did succeed a few times and this image is one of them.


1/6400, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This male had been perched on the vertical twig on the right (obviously) but while perched he was side-lit and most of my photos didn’t have a catch light in the eye. But when he took off he launched at the perfect angle to give me light in the eye and on the face and an intimate look at the head of a kinglet in flight (or very nearly so, one foot is still touching the twig). I love this stretched-out pose and I had no idea their legs were that long.

The out-of-focus foliage at left is a bother but the kinglet has a mostly clean background and I still find the photo interesting in a fun way. The wings are soft because of a shallow depth of field rather than lack of sufficient shutter speed.

In my recent kinglet posts several readers have asked questions similar to this: “If this bird is called a Ruby-crowned Kinglet why don’t I see a ruby crown?”. The answer is twofold: 1, only males have the ruby crown and 2, the crown is usually hidden in other feathers on top of the head. This bird decided to give us a peek at part of what’s really underneath them.

Sometime down the road I’ll likely post more kinglet images that give us an even better look at that spectacular crimson crown.





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