New Birds & Blooms cover by Richard Day

Photo (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Downy Woodpecker, female on Common Winterberry

Richard Day’s Downy Woodpecker made the cover of the January 2011 issue of Birds & Blooms Extra!  That’s his 3rd cover for Birds & Blooms in 8 months—a gorgeous male  Indigo bunting in Susan’s flower bed was featured on the August/September issue and a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on a blackberry lily landed on the May cover.

For the Downy Woodpecker, Richard was sitting in his blind in our yard photographing birds at feeders.  He always uses a photo blind to photograph birds because the birds are used to the blinds in our yard and go about their business because they can’t see him when he’s inside.  It’s less stressful on the birds overall, and that’s Richard’s highest priority when he photographs them.

We don’t get much snow here in southern Illinois, so when it does snow, Richard (“the weather man-iac”—according to Susan) plans ahead.  He watches weather patterns and forecasts for weeks waiting for snow in the forecast.  When there’s even an inkling of a flurry, he sets up his blind near some evergreen trees in our yard.  Various bird feeders are filled with sunflower seeds, niger seed, suet cakes, and chopped peanuts and placed down wind from the evergreens so the birds can have some shelter from the elements when they eat.

Cover (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Indigo Bunting, male in Susan's garden

Back on January 31, 2008, it snowed and Richard was ready.  He photographed a bunch of different species like cardinals, juncos, blue jays, chickadees, and goldfinches for a couple of days before the snow melted.  Many of those have appeared in cards, calendars, magazines, and catalogs since then.

The female downy woodpecker was feeding on suet at one of his feeders.  We have a patch of Common Winterberry bushes near the juniper trees where he’d placed the feeders.

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) are in the holly family and, as their name implies, their fruits don’t ripen until winter.  They  are great landscape plants for birds, offering nesting and cover in the summer as well as winter food for birds.  Downy woodpeckers don’t eat berries, however this female hopped in the bush and stayed long enough for Richard to take a few photos of her.

The Downy was photographed with his old Canon EOS 40D, (which he doesn’t own anymore) and his 600mm f/4 lens.  Since it was snowing, he had his ISO set at 320,  shutter speed 1/800th of a second at f/4.

Photo (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in Susan's garden

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