Birding Surprise | Outside My House | New York

One of the best things about nature is that it can quite literally exist anywhere. It is in the smallest things. And it is in the most mundane things. If we just open our eyes we can find nature.

When we think of nature our minds often conjure up images of the grandiose. We think of the impressive, expansive nature that often feels too unattainable. In that we often lose the ability to appreciate the things nearest to us. The things quite literally right outside our doors.

Evening Grosbeak peaking through leaves

Right Outside The Door

As a nature lover one of the things that most inspires me is the opportunity to see something I have never seen before. Often that leads me to believe that I need to go somewhere new to see something new. But, that is not true at all.

Every time we open ourselves up to nature we have the opportunity to see something new. We never know when it will happen. It can occur in the most mundane moments.

Recently I wandered into my kitchen for some random mundane reason. And I just happen to glance out the window at our birdfeeders. There perched on the railing were birds I had never seen in real life before.

Evening Grosbeak

Even though I had never seen one in person before I knew instantly what they were. They were Evening Grosbeaks. I had seen images in field guides before, but never right in front of me in the flesh.

I was so excited. Being able to watch them and enjoy the opportunity to see these birds was so cool. But also as a photographer I really wanted to at least get a photograph of one to document that I saw one.

Evening Grosbeak perched on our railing


I rushed, but not ran because dogs, through the house to get my camera. I was relieved and even more excited when I got back to the window and the Evening Grosbeak was still there. Raising my camera I took a photograph through the window and the screen just to capture an image of this magnificent bird. I just wanted one photo to document when I saw it and where it was.

Little did I know.

I was really in for a treat. These Evening Grosbeaks that I had never seen in the twelve plus years of living where I do stayed around for a while.

The Grosbeaks seemed to be calm and comfortable here. So I took the chance of going to the sliding glass door to out deck where these birdfeeders are. I could still see the birds from here.

I slid the door open just far enough to point my lens through. They did not flee. I was able to capture some images this way.

The birds remained. They seemed calm. I opened the door and stepped out onto the deck. I was able to take a few more photographs.

Evening Grosbeak perched on tree branch

Still the birds remained. I inched myself closer and closer to the tree and the feeders where the birds were congregating. The birds seemed comfortable with my presence. The more comfortable they appeared the more comfortable I became.

What at first appeared to be just two birds. One male and one female Evening Grosbeak at my feeders turned out to be a small flock up in the tree just a short distance from our deck.

I was able to watch them for as long as I wanted. They were not disturbed by my presence. I went from having never seen this species of bird before in my life to capturing around one thousand images of these birds.


Birding is a great way to connect with nature. It is perfect because you don’t really need to do anything. It is the perfect venue for experiencing these “new” nature encounters without even having to leave your house, just like I did.

I often think, just like I mentioned above, that I need to go to new places where bird species we don’t have where I live are more common. But in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. This experience I had with the Evening Grosbeaks is just more evidence of that.

Evening Grosbeak leaning in

I have had so many “new” nature experiences right at my own home. This birding experience is just one more occurrence to remind me of that. I need to keep that fresh in my mind.

Time With The Grosbeaks

My first sighting of the Evening Grosbeak sitting on my railing was at 11:30 AM. After slowly making my way outside I watched the birds for a half hour. I created 160 photographs in that time frame. Then I went back inside because I was afraid I would scare them off.

I looked for them again later in the afternoon to see if they were still around. Much to my surprise these birds I had never seen before were still here. I was really happy they had stayed around.

More opportunities to watch them and photograph them. More opportunities to have new nature experiences.

I saw the Evening Grosbeaks again at quarter after three in the afternoon. I watched them and photographed them for another 15 minutes. Again being very conscious of trying not to spook them.

Perched hiding behind a branch

In that short period of time I created over 800 photographs. It was a very exciting 15 minutes of birding and photography. There were even more birds present at this time than there were earlier in the morning.

The next day it rained all day. I didn’t see hardly any birds at all. No sign of the Evening Grosbeaks. I figured they had moved on to find better weather.

Day Two With The Grosbeaks

A day of rain and no Grosbeak sightings went by. Then the Evening Grosbeaks unexpectedly returned in the afternoon. This was so exciting. I was going to be fortunate enough to have multiple days worth of time with these birds I had previously never seen before to enjoy.

I was able to stand out on my deck and enjoy the presence of these birds again.

The sky and the lighting wasn’t the greatest for photography, but when you get these types of nature experiences you take full advantage of it. And that means creating some less than perfect bird photographs.

I was able to get a nice close image of this Evening Grosbeak

But I enjoyed every minute of it.

Once again there was a small flock hanging out in the tree near our deck. I was able to spend a half hour outside watching the birds and photographing them. Since the sunlight wasn’t great for the bird photography I combined the opportunity to watch the birds with some other photography work I was doing.

I interspersed my other work with bird photos. Using multiple cameras and multiple lenses to work. I kept checking in on the Evening Grosbeaks as I worked on other things. Watching them and taking photographs when the right opportunities presented themselves.

Photographing Evening Grosbeaks

One thing that made photographing the Evening Grosbeaks enjoyable was that they do not move around too much and they don’t move around too fast. The birds move around just enough to provide different photographic opportunities.

The Grosbeaks move their bodies so I can capture different birds in different postures and positions. They move around from branch to branch. Landing in different places. They move to and from the bird feeders and the deck and back to the tree.

All of the movement allows me opportunities to create photographs that look a little different. I can create a lot of slightly different images even though I only saw a small number of birds for a short period of time.

The fact that they do not move around rapidly allowed me to create quite a large number of photographs for such a short duration of time and such a few number of sighting opportunities to photograph them. I have now taken more photograph of Evening Grosbeaks than I have of other birds that I have seen more frequently.

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