X marks the spot
An Oklahoma photographer knew where to go to find a flycatcher
Published: June 22, 2012
On a gravel road outside Stillwater, Oklahoma, hawks, kestrels, vultures, meadowlarks, Dickcissels, flycatchers, and other songbirds reign. The abundance makes the road a frequent haunt of birdwatcher Clay Billman.
ON A WIRE: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), Stillwater, Oklahoma, April 25, 2012, 12:00 p.m., by Clay Billman
On a bright day in April, he spotted this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, one of several Scissor-tails perched on a barbed-wire fence that runs along the road. Billman pulled up to the birds and grabbed his camera. The first flycatcher he focused on flew away, so he got out of his car to focus on another.
Just as he zoned in on the bird, the unexpected happened: The Scissor-tail readjusted its footing on the wire. Leaning forward and spreading its wings and tail wide, it showed off its pink underwing feathers and, for a moment, created a beautiful avian letter X.
The pose vanished in a second. Billman’s photo lets us all enjoy it.
Camera: Nikon D200
Lens: Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR DX
Settings: ISO 400, 1/2000, f/5.6, focal length 300mm, manual exposure
Light: Natural light, no flash
Adjustments: RAW converted to TIF. Several minor levels adjustments, cropping, limited sharpening, and removal of cosmetic dust artifacts with Adobe Photoshop CS4.
Meet the photographer
FLYCATCHER CATCHER: Clay Billman is a publications coordinator for Oklahoma State University athletics and a freelance writer and graphic designer. He lives five miles outside of Stillwater with his wife and twin daughters. (The girls, he says, are harder to photograph than hummingbirds!) He discovered us via Twitter (twitter.com/BirdWatchDaily).