Not a Squirrel

Birdwatching is a time-honored activity, which a lot of people take pretty seriously. I’ve watched birds, but I’ve never been birdwatching. After today, I doubt, I ever will. Birds are the original poster creatures for ADHA. The smaller the bird the higher the activity level. They will not sit still. Period. For someone, who set up her camera equipment quite meticulously to capture pretty birdies in their natural environment, this hectic behavior of potential subjects proved unacceptable. In my professional life, I observed cell cultures in Petri dishes. They grew quietly, rarely jumping about hectically.
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As this picture demonstrates, birds easily disappear within the foliage of even a small, open grouping of trees. There were at least six or seven active birds of different species moving around in these trees. Mounting a zoom objective, as I had, didn’t help. Au contraire. Owing to the natural tangly-ness of branches, twigs, and leaves, the camera can’t auto-focus on those twitchy birds. One has to focus manually, which may achieve crisp results even at high zoom IF the darn bird will remain STILL. But no, not my birds! As soon as you think you got it, hopping or fluttering occurs, ruining everything.

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Meanwhile, it had started to drizzle and the light was getting too murky to continue this frustrating game when I saw out of the corner of my eye a much larger, rusty brown something move in a tree to my right. I believe real birdwatchers call that color rufous but trust me, it was tobacco with a hint of copper.
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This bird is named according to its behavior. It’s a Squirrel Cuckoo, so called because it hops around trees like a squirrel.
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When it sees a grub, it hops to grab it, then checks for the next bite and jumps to get it. There we go, high-speed hopping ensues as I try to snap pictures.
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Don’t be fooled by the next image. I captured the false tranquility a mere split second before the next hop. One can almost see the muscles tense in readiness to jump again, as she focuses on a tasty morsel.
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Squirrel Cuckoo – Piaya cayana, Cuculidae, Linnaeau 1766

That’s it, I’m giving up.

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