California Scrub Jays Can Be Bullies

Description: Often simply called ‘bluebirds’ by those not in the know, California Scrub Jays, like the one pictured here, tend to scare all the birds away from the feeder. Then they make a mess looking for, as it seems in this photo, corn mixed in with the wild bird feed.

This image is a test of a new camera I purchased just last month, the Canon EOS R5. It’s a mirrorless camera and my first. I have been hesitant to jump to these cameras from a traditional DSLR because, to be honest, the view through the viewfinder didn’t look good. It is a very small screen and while that has its advantages, in the early days they kind of sucked.

But I really like that mirrorless has capabilities DSLR lacks. Mainly that it can be lighter. I like lighter as I’ve been lugging around an 8lb kit most of my career.

Because this camera has 45MP, I can use the Canon 24-105mm L lens that came with the kit and crop if I want to, effectively giving me about 20MP at 200mm. I recently took this setup on an assignment to the Caribbean to photography Windstar Cruises Star Breeze and absolutely loved the combo. It was perfect for that type of assignment.

This week I am heading to Alaska with UnCruise Adventures and while my assignment is to create 360° photos of five of their vessels for virtual tours on their website, I’m bringing along my Sigma 150-600mm monster with hopes of many wildlife encounters typical of these trips: bald eagles, whales, orca, porpoises, bears, mountain goats and maybe, if we’re super lucky, wolves like this image from my first trip with UnCruise in 2012.

To that end, I haven’t had much time to experiment with the Sigma/Canon combo so I busted it out this morning to see what it can do. Another lovely thing about the Canon R5 is the focus tracking. It has a setting where it can track people AND animals. It can recognize either, typically focuses on the eye of either beast and then tracks. It’s a godsend for birding and might get me back into the hobby.

For practice, I sat out on my patio and was taking photos of happy little finches until this jay came along. This was shot at 600mm and the Canon R5 is a full frame sensor, so this is true 600mm. But then I cropped it to highlight the jay. The original looks like this:

Don’t mind the Gorilla Tape holding the feeder together. It has fallen once or twice.

That original is 44.7MP large. The crop is 4.2MP.

You may scoff at a 4MP image but that is plenty big for all the small screens on phones these days. Even the top image is downsized to 1200px on the long edge, as compared to 2200px of the crop. 4MP is just fine for a lot of applications these days especially when it is as sharp as this Canon R5 creates.

Title: California Scrub Jays Can Be Bullies

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States, North America

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Commercial Licensing (email)