Song Sparrow Foraging on Lily Pad

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I went back to mid-April for this one before this “pond” becomes completely overgrown with lily pads. I’m not sure of the definition of pond and this one does have an inlet and outlet, but it’s quite shallow and becomes completely overgrown and we all call it a pond.

Specific Feedback

I know there’s no eye contact, but does the behavior make up for it?

Technical Details

Sony A1, FE 200-600 + 1.4 TC @ 840 mm, monopod with Sidekick head, f/9, 1/500, iso 4000, manual exposure. Processed in LR (I used the LR AI noise reduction for this one) and PS CC. Quite a bit of work on the background to get some bright extraneous lily pads out of the image. I used the local adjustment brush in LR with quite a bit of dehaze to tame those brighter parts of the lily pad. Cropped to 4190x3174. Taken April 14, 2023 @ 9:32 am.

I would say a resounding, yes, Dennis. The idea of a song sparrow out on the lilly pad is pretty surprising. I wonder what it found that would tempt it out of its usual element. I have only one nit picking observation. The light ripple at the bottom of the frame is rather distracting and could be burned down or maybe eliminated all together. The pink water around the bird is interesting. I wonder what is responsible for that color. Thanks for sharing this unexpected this moment in time.

Song Sparrows tend to gravitate to water edges. I’ve seen them foraging for insects and larvae on on the waters edge in small creeks and actually sticking their heads in to grab prey. The lily pads host lots of small larvae and such both on the top and bottom of the pads. The Red-winged Blackbirds like to forage on them as well and I’ve seen grackles foraging on floating plants on the St Johns river in Florida (they were going after dragonflies mostly).

Interesting. I am exposing my ignorance about birds. Thanks for the information.

Another resounding yes! A bird on a lily pad would evoke to me a children’s book illustration – I’m so glad to find out it is real! I’ve seen Gallinules do that in FL but never thought about birds out here doing it. But a while back somebody (you?) posted some other bird on a lily pad.

But yes, there is such nice detail in the bird that the eyes don’t matter. And the lily pad is so interesting – wonderful job!

On my dark BG here (does everyone have the same of is it customizable?) the ripple at the bottom sort of acts as a frame and I like it. Maybe if it were to be matted with white it would be worth a look.

I think we have a choice of a couple of themes on this site. I just looked (under Account/Theme. there are a bunch of them, but as far as background it boils down to dark and light.

Dennis, this looks great. It’s a fine behavior shot that you’ve composed well. There are lots of interesting, subtle details like the bird’s reflection and the ripples in the lower half that add well to the viewing.