Brian E. Small
Beautiful images of Spectacled Eider, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and more
Published: April 2, 2012
You might say that birds are in Brian Small's blood. He's the son of the late ornithologist Arnold Small, who was a president of the American Birding Association in its early days and the author of The Birds of California (Winchester Press, 1974). Under Arnold's encouragement, Brian began birding and photographing from the time he was a small boy. The photos of both father and son illustrated Arnold's second book, California Birds: Their Status and Distribution (Ibis Publishing, 1994).
Brian E. Small
Photo by Bob Steele
Brian has been one of the world's leading bird photographers ever since. His images have appeared in field guides, books, newspapers, magazines, calendars, and on smartphone apps. Along with biologist and author Paul Sterry, Brian published field guides to birds of eastern and western North America in 2009.
We've published his photos for more than a decade. Brian's images have illustrated Kenn Kaufman's ID Tips since our October 2000 issue. And when we changed our name to BirdWatching in April 2011, Brian's gorgeous Northern Parula graced our cover. Below are eight photos Brian handpicked from his vast collection. In the captions, he describes where and how he photographed each one, including a shot he calls "one of my favorite and most cherished images." Be sure to click "Full Screen" to see the photos big!
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This simple portrait is one of my favorite and most cherished images in my collection. Getting a perfectly plumaged adult male to pose on a lovely green stem in gorgeous light is not easy. I photographed this bird in Kern County, California
, in late May 2005 shortly after it arrived on the breeding grounds. The grosbeak was singing on territory, and I used a playback of his song to attract him to this perch I had set up. Over the years, I've tried doing this with many other male Blue Grosbeaks, but the response was usually limited. This was an image I held in my mind's eye for perhaps 20 years, and when it all came together I was thrilled.