Ruby-crowned Kinglet In Flight Against A Clean Background

Knowing their habits and quickness I didn’t think a kinglet in flight without a cluttered background would ever happen for me.


1/5000, 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

I went looking for migrants yesterday morning in Box Elder County but many of them seem to have already headed south, leaving behind just a few stragglers. But I did get some fairly nice shots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and I especially enjoy this second one (below) because I seldom get them against a clean background, particularly in flight. And it was a novelty for me to find one not buried in the brush.

What I really wanted from this bird was a flight shot (soon after takeoff of course) but they’re so incredibly fast that there’s no way you can react to takeoff quickly enough to press the shutter button before they leave the frame. The only chance you have is to fire off a burst of shots and hope the bird launches very soon after you begin. With many birds that just isn’t practical because they often stay perched for a long time (at 10 frames/sec in a burst you’ve already got 50 shots in only 5 seconds).

But that’s where the photographer has an advantage with kinglets – these frenetic little birds seldom stay in the same place for more than a second or two. So I decided to lay on my shutter button and roll the dice.



1/5000, 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

It worked! The kinglet took off at a good angle, I got light on the face and a catch light in the eye, I think the flight posture works and I had enough shutter speed to get the little speedster sharp. And the bird has left the perch so I can legitimately call this a flight shot.

True, the angle is fairly steep and that sky sure is blue but all things considered I was very happy to get the photo, especially of a kinglet.




25 comments to Ruby-crowned Kinglet In Flight Against A Clean Background

  • Art

    It makes me giggle to see you get all excited. 🙂 How many shots in that sequence of holding that shutter button down at 10 fps and hoping for the best?

  • Nice job Ron, it worked very well! I love the look on its face as it takes to flight in the deep blue sky. It always amazes me how fast animal movements are, or how slow my shutter reflexes are when I stare through the lens at an animal waiting for it to move, and then “flash” it is gone and the shutter never fired once :). Understandable with fast birds like this, however I have it happen with brown bears in the river before — show just how sloooooow my reactions must be !

    • It happens often to me too, Ed. Sometimes I miss the shot so badly the bird probably could have flown through the frame 3 times before my shutter clicked!

  • Susan Stone

    Nice flight shot! To me the blue sky is fine because the bird really stands out against it. A bird this size could get lost in a more complex background, at least to my way of thinking.

  • Woo Hoo. And happy dances. Rather a lot of happy dances.
    The miracle of flight is one which blows me away. It seems (to my limited mind) to be improbable at best and probably impossible. And yet they do it. Time and time again.
    You are really kicking your nemesis shots to the curb recently aren’t you? No doubt there are others looming.

  • Marty K

    You definitely didn’t get “snake eyes” on this roll of the dice! 🙂 Such a cool launch pose! I’m constantly amazed by the skinny twig-like nature of so many bird legs and feet. They look like they couldn’t support anything nor could they grab on to a perch in any sort of stabilizing manner. There doesn’t seem to be any space for the tendons, yet I know it all works. Another way birds continue to blow my mind!

    • Once again you and I think alike, Marty. I too have wondered where the tendons would fit in those extremely skinny legs and that lower leg bone must be incredibly thin.

    • Laura Culley

      Marty, I’m with you on that leg thing. I keep wondering how those legs don’t turn to ice in a snow storm…and yet, they don’t. (Brain explodes)

  • Laura Culley

    This is where the whole degree of difficulty thing comes in. These little rockets take the difficulty somewhere way off the chart, so you accomplished a near miracle.
    What little jewels they are! And like Patty, I’m just knocked out by birds flinging themselves into the air, opening their wings and flying. Seriously! That’s a magical thing. And what outrageous hubris that they just do that without even thinking about it. It’s akin to us putting a seed in the ground, expecting something to grow and it DOES! WOW! WOW! WOW! They’re just pretty! (I REALLY need to get to the task of making up a whole new set of superlatives. This ridiculously redundant thing is getting on my nerves…LOL!!)
    And yes, I ponder these things 😉

    • “This is where the whole degree of difficulty thing comes in”

      Exactly, Laura. I wouldn’t be nearly as excited about getting this shot if it had been almost any other species.

  • Joanne OBrien

    Great captures of these unbelievably quick birds. Bravo!

  • Patty Chadwick

    I always like what I think of as “fling” shots where the bird seems to be flinging itself into the air…as this lttle cutie is doing in the second frame…like the leaves, too…interesting veining…

  • Dick Harlow

    Congratulations Ron, Great shots.

  • Wow! That’s simply amazing! These guys never hold still.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Awesome! Now that’s true talent!!


  • Judy Gusick

    Nice! Your idea paid off even if many shots were taken to get it. 🙂 Those “long legs” are obvious once again in this shot.

    • “Your idea paid off even if many shots were taken to get it”

      Judy, I only took 12 shots in this burst (1.2 sec) before the kinglet took off. I thought that was completely reasonable given the situation. Thank you.