At 4:30 this afternoon, I photographed another "life bird" for me, this time while I was sitting in the backyard garden: an Ovenbird, Seiurus aurocappilus.
These are the best from about 35 shots I took in rapid succession. I tried to adjust the color for a truer representation, or at least consistency. I need some better software tools for that, I think. Exposure in the backyard ranges from full shade, to dappled leafy shade, to full sun. And my little visitor ranged through all of it. Most of the shots were ruined due to camera shake, ie: photographer shake. Others were blurred by the motion of the bird itself; in the shade, the shutter speed was too slow to freeze its motion.
In the mixed native plant border, that's a cinnamon fern behind, and the stem of a Turk's Cap Lily in front. You can see the orange patch on the crown, a key for this species.
Here's the original, full-frame shot showing more of the border. The blurry thing on the right is a wooden planter I'd just finished planting with a female Winterberry, Ilex verticillata.
Rear view, also showing the orange patch on the crown.
The ovenbird visited me for less than five minutes. It started out in our back neighbor's cherry tree, where I couldn't get a good shot and lost sight of it. I thought it flew off.
I was surprised to then see the bird on the ground, beneath one of our Adirondack chairs, about six feet from me. It wandered around the backyard. You can see much of the in-progress gardening clutter around the bird: a bin holding compost, a bag of leaves, and so on. It didn't seem to be probing the ground. Maybe it was just checking out the neighborhood.
I take this as a good sign. My plan for the backyard is to recreate a woodland opening. I've been building up a collection of native shrubs, wildflowers and ferns. The past two weekends I've been reorganizing the space, clearing beds, and planting things which have been sitting in containers all this time. I'm starting to recreate the layered foliage structure of a clearing in an Eastern woodland. I feel like the ovenbird showed up as if to say: Getting warmer.