A Bluebird of Happiness on a Rainy Day
"Two little birds," Mary whispered urgently. We were sitting on the couch as our TV blared the closing credits of a Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun. "One's at the corner of the gutter."
I peeked out quickly. "Bluebirds." Ran for the camera.
I squeezed off five shots through the window before they took off. This one's a male; the more subdued-colored female is out of frame to the left. Beside me Daisy sat on the couch back, chittering excitedly. Three out of the five photos blurred the birds; the remaining picture shows the back of this one's head. (You can see a female Eastern Bluebird here.)
In the spring of 2004, after I'd planted four trees in the yard, a male bluebird came and perched on top of one of our two red maples. The day back then had been sunny, unlike our current clouds, and I thrilled to a blue of extraordinary iridescence. I had never seen a bluebird in person before then.
I don't know if there are more around or if I'm just recognizing them more often. On our walk a few days ago we'd seen more than a dozen on a wire, in the rain; I recognized them by their ruddy chests and just a touch of blue. Light quality makes a difference, because a bluebird's feathers aren't "blue" per se but reflect blue wavelengths. Writes John Ivanko in Michigan Today:*
"The bluebirds' color was so remarkable to Henry David Thoreau that he felt compelled to describe this species' coloring as 'carrying the sky on its back.' An insightful description since the bluebird's blue color does, in fact, come from light waves scattered by the structure of their feathers, not from blue pigment in their feathers-a blue suncatcher, so to speak. That's why a bluebird appears gray on an overcast day."
This one's feathers don't have the iridescence I saw last spring, but they're not bad for a cloudy day!
*The original link to Ivanko's article, which worked when I posted the shot of the female on November 4, seems to be currently out of commission. I've replaced it with a new link that seems to work.
Postscript: I've finally figured out that I can access my photo stats. This shot uses a 1/400-second exposure at f/4.5.