"Flying Bluebird"
This photograph is from the "Bluebird Project" Collection. 

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Springtime only means one thing in the bird world, and that is that it is time to reproduce.  The eastern bluebird is no exception, and they are a fun pair to watch during this time.

The bluebirds form a pair bond when both the male and female enter a nesting cavity in late winter.  From that time on, they make their plans to parent a new brood.  Before mating, the male will often bring the female a choice insect as the last step of the mating ritual.

Typically, a bluebird pair will have between one to two broods.  My nesting pair seems to always try a second brood in summer, but it is often a failed nest.

As I was viewing my photographs from a session, I came across this image of a female bluebird leaving her nest cavity.  As she exited, she looked right into my camera, making this a unique image. 

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"Eastern Bluebird on Plum Branch"
This photograph is from the "Bluebird Project" Collection. 

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As is the case with many people across the eastern United States, I have become obsessed with the eastern bluebird.  Next to the ruby-throated hummingbird, it is my favorite songbird.  Perhaps it is the stunning saturated blue and rust coloration of the male, or maybe it is the way the female and male defend the nest without thought of danger.  Maybe it is the way they tirelessly feed their young ones in the nest.  They are a model to us all on how to rear our children  A lesson from God if you will.

My love affair with the bluebird started in the winter of 2014 when I made my first photograph of a bluebird, who happened to perch outside my home's window.  To this day, that photograph is one of my most sold and popular pieces.  I have watched the bluebird make nest after nest in my nesting boxes and now as I write this, the female and male are building a new nest in one of my nest boxes.

The image above is a new image of the male of the nesting pair this year.  The beautiful plum blossoms show us all that no matter what happens, no matter what controversy or virus may be attacking our population, the beauty and birth of spring will go on and so will the human race.

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"Great Blue Surfside"
This photograph is from my "Avian Florida" Collection. 

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There is a steady breeze blowing along the northern end of an island just south of Tampa Bay, Florida.  The dark blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico are calm, with slow short waves breaking on the tan colored sand.  In the distance, among the heat shimmering across the beach, I see a tall bird slowly making his way toward me.

With my Canon 1D Mark II hanging from a Black Rapid Strap, I begin walking toward the bird to get a closer view, but I soon realize, that as I move his direction, he starts moving away.  Obviously, this is not going to be an effective strategy to photograph him.

This is where many years of understanding bird behavior pays off.  Often times, shorebirds and wading birds are intimidated by a person standing up.  Perhaps it is just an innate defense mechanism built into them from the beginning of creation.  I do not know.  With a bird like this, it is best to lay down on your belly and wait.

Sure enough, almost as soon as I got down on my stomach, the heron began to approach. Once he broke 30 yards, I began shooting.  He now could see I was no threat to him and walked right past me, only about 10 yards away.  It was a great opportunity to photograph such a magnificent bird in such a beautiful setting.

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"Yawning Screech Owl"
This photograph is from my "Best of" Collection. As a creative, there are times when serendipity and planning pay off in a big way.  

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It is early morning at a local photo shoot to benefit raptor rehabilitation and an screech owl is brought out to perch in a cutout in a tree.  The poor little guy was having a time trying to stay awake.  One by one other photographers dropped off, but experience and intuition told me to stay.  By now the owls eyes were shutting and after about 20 seconds, they would pop open again.  This went on for about 5 minutes.

Then it happened, he leaned back, closed his eyes tightly and opened for a full yawn.  There is always that one moment where, as a photographer, you have to be waiting and ready for action.  Yet, at the same time, with such a low shutter speed, I had to carefully make the photograph to keep it sharp.  These are the moments I live for as a photographer.  That one moment where everything comes together for a great shot.

He never did it again for the entire session.

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"Mountain Lion"
This photograph is from my "Best of" Collection and so far, is my favorite mountain lion image.

First, let me say that mountain lions are incredibly difficult to find in the wild.  Most images, including this one, are taken in captivity.  There are many reasons they are difficult to photograph in the wild, but the biggest reason is the fact that they are so secretive and they are often most active in the evening hours.  Having said that, it by no means takes anything away from this amazing cat.

Mountain lions or cougars have an intimidating look.  They are by nature a dangerous wild animal and should never be approached in a wild setting.  Being and obligate carnivore, it must feed on animals to survive  and that makes them a danger to humans.  Although they are a dangerous animal, they would much rather have a tasty deer than attack a human.     

I think this image looked best as a black and white.  The stark contrast really brings out the eyes, mouth and texture in the fur. The grain in the image helps reinforce the raw, wildness of the cat.  The eyes are fully engaging the viewer and forcing us to almost see his thoughts.  What an amazing animal!

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"Elk in Fog"
This photograph is from my Smoky Mountain Elk Collection and so far, is my favorite elk photograph.  

It was a cool September morning in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The kind of morning where I can here every twig snap and every leaf crinkle as I walk along the mountain paths and roads. 

Along one of the meadows, a large bull is making his way up the valley through forest and field.  He is a beautiful elk with well sharpened antlers and one strip of greenery hanging from where he was thrashing earlier that morning.  Only 50 yards away, another bull eyes him carefully and keeps his distance.

It is such amazing time of year as each bull tries to secure his own harem for breeding season.  Sometimes there are clashes between bulls, but I am least guaranteed to see great poses and showdowns each autumn.  In the end this bull was not the strongest or at least most aggressive bull that day, but he was such a great looking animal.

I can't wait to see what is in store for me next year as I explore the Great Smoky Mountains!


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"Love is in the Air"
This photograph is from the Hummingbird Collection and is another one of my favorites.  The soft pinks in this image, provided by the pink flowers used for the background, symbolize love and friendship and compliment the cute little hummingbird.  

Furthermore, think this is the perfect image to celebrate February 14, 2020.  I do not know, but perhaps we have gone too far with Valentine's day, and it has just become yet another holiday.  However, there is still a romantic part of me that hopes this is not true, and I believe the intent of the holiday is still present.    

The history of Valentine's day is one that has slipped into mythology.  Some claim it was a priest who would marry couples despide an edict from Claudius forbidding young men to marry.  Other people claim it is a pagan holiday.

Whatever your belief is for this holiday, I believe the spirit of what most consider the holiday of love is well presented with this hummingbird.  I wish all of you a wonderful Valentine's day.  We are only on earth for a short period of time.  Give someone a hug and tell them you love them!

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