I began this morning wanting to talk about the vulgar phrase “trash birds,” but unfortunately I have neither the strength nor energy to do so. I promise to kick the tires of that lousy clunker at a later time—when I feel up to it.
In lieu of what no doubt will start yet another war between me and a portion of the naturalist community, let me instead share a few of the images I came across as I searched for illustrative photos to go with my rant. Here are some rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia), one of the top three “trash bird” species in North America.
These were taken more than two years ago with a point-and-shoot camera, which I since bequeathed to my mother. At the time, I was playing with a polarizing filter (along with the ever-present UV filter). A UV filter is an always thing: put one on each of your lenses and leave them there at all times, putting all other filters on top of the UV filter.
But the polarizer? Well, when shooting in direct sunlight especially, a polarizing filter works wonders to increase color saturation and contrast, not to mention minimizing reflections. Yet it’s the former part of that—color saturation and contrast—that matters most. Because direct sunlight not only causes harsh shadows, but also it’s so potent that it tends to overpower colors, leaving them washed out and lifeless.
You can actually get better colors on a cloudy day. Still, a polarizing filter does a great deal to fight off sunshine’s overbearing disposition.
Thus, as I sat on the pier in Sunset Bay, my favorite haunt at White Rock Lake, this dule of doves, or flock of pigeons depending on your avian vernacular in this case, came to rest near me. They all lined up on the edge of the pier, some even getting so close that I could no longer focus on them because they were within the minimum focusing distance of the camera. I shot many photos of them as they relaxed with me on that warm and sunny November day.
It seems obvious that the entire lineup would have been perfect had there not been that one outlier: the dimwitted numskull in the background facing the wrong direction. I remain unclear on whether that particular bird was just being contrary or if it was thicker in the head than this species is known for. The empty “Who? Me?” look I received each time I fussed about it makes me believe the latter more than the former. But who am I to question the synaptic potency of any creature? I’ve certainly had my share of “Duh!” moments.