Texas Cowbird - Second Image Added

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This was taken at Laguna Atascosa NWR in South Texas at the end of April 2024. The migration had slowed down significantly, but the resident birds were still looking for a handout at the bird feeders/blinds. I placed six orange halves at the water station right next to the visitor center and in less than a minute the green jays, altimira and baltimore orioles, cowbirds, thrashers, and doves were coming in for a look.

Specific Feedback

I cloned out a suet cage chain under this bird’s tail and a few unruly branches in the BG. I also cloned out the branch going across the ULC in another version, but it seemed excessive to me. Is it too distracting? I decided to add the second image too.

Technical Details

Canon 5DMiii, f8, 1/800 sec, iso 3200, 100-400/1.4TC at 560 mm.

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1 Like

Hi Ed
Great work on the dark blues and blacks. I like the framing in the first photo and think you could look at add some more space around the second Cowbird. Nice work.

Wow, these are cowbirds? I’ve never seen them , despite a lot of time in the Texas Preserves.- VERY cool bird.
Great handling of the colours to render them life-like vibrant. nice pose, and simple perch.
The first might beefit from removal of that slightly-distracting OOF branch by the bird.
I agree the second one’s tail needs a bit if flicking room!
Great catches!

I think removing that out of focus branch is a must, Ed. It draws my eye very strongly. In the second image, I think a little more canvas at the bottom would be nice. I like the poses of both.

Nice detail in the darks – not easy to pull off. I agree with the suggestions above, especially for the crops. In the first I’d take more off the top and want more on the left and bottom. In the second one, more on the bottom.

Some low-opacity cloning could benefit the BGs, which are very pleasing except for the distractions of the very OOF branches.

Really nice detail and separation of the dark blue from the blacks. Great red eye. Agree with removing the branch on the first image and bit more room on the left. Maybe a bit more room on the bottom in the second. Beautiful bird, well photographed.

Hi Ed, I agree with the positive comments and suggestions given above. Really interesting bird. One that I have never seen or even know of. Love that red eye. Nice color rendition of the dark feathers.

Thank you @peter, @Diane_Miller, @Dennis_Plank, @SandyR-B, @Allen_Brooks, and @Allen_Sparks for your thoughts and suggestions on these. I will work on them when I get a chance. Just to be clear, this is a male Bronzed Cowbird from Texas, I think the lighting really brought out the blue-blacks.

This is such a cool bird, Ed. I’ve never seen one before - the cowbirds we have here are more like miniature grackles (males) and relatively brown and benign (females). Are these parasitic nesters too, do you know? Great blue/blacks - my nemesis with RWBBs! That red eye is something, too. The pose in the second is so interesting - makes me wonder what it’s looking at. Such a great head, too with that rich plumage.