There are wildlife photographers who apologize for any urban elements — like street lamps — in their bird images. I embrace those shots, for three reasons:
- I admire the rugged survivalists that are urban birds and wildlife. What we throw at them in the way of obstacles, pollution, windows, automobiles, poisons, traps, wires and electricity, and still … they persist. They not only persist, they thrive. They find ways to turn our infrastructure into shelter and sustenance. They possess all of the qualities we, as a species, admire in ourselves.
- Any juxtaposition of nature against machine gives me hope. I’m drawn to the theme of restoration, in places like this, and this and this.
- The lens gives me license to see glory in the decrepit, the “marvelous in the mundane” as Bill Moyers once said. There’s nothing ugly when you’re talking about photographs. Everything has light, texture and nuance.
To the birds who live in the grit of the city … to the German expressionist cinematic birds … to the Raymond Chandlers of birds … I dedicate my “Bird Noir” series.
Gull of the Revolution
20,000 Years on the Bay … SF Bay, that is
Crow in the Night
Cooper’s Hawks With Dirty Faces
The Gull’s Lost Weekend
The Maltese Pelican
Strangers on a Lamp Post
Bluebird in a Lonely Place
The Big Ferry
Super series! Great take on the film noir theme!
Thanks, Hugh. You know how I love my urban two-leggeds … I mean, the feathered ones. [:-)
Love the shots – and the gritty attitude. Urban wildlife gets my respect. Spent some time just this morning, here in NYC, watching a red-tailed hawk move from spot to spot, driven by a small flock of loudly complaining American crows.
This is great! You might like my old post on the myths of urban and rural, and possibly come away with a desire to shoot some “urban” backgrounds in places like cornfields and private timber company forest lands. I, too, love the survivalists who make it in our altered landscapes, and appreciate their abilities. I once watched pigeons dodge a peregrine falcon for two hours and over a dozen stoops.
Josh, I’ll go looking for that piece. If you come back this way, feel free to post a link. On the issue of pigeons, I do some volunteer work with a domestic pigeon rescue in SF (domestic like racing pigeons and king pigeons), and have had an intimate view into their behavior and intelligence. Yet another under-appreciated species with a fascinating and parallel evolution with Peregrines. And yes, their skill as aerobats is simply awesome! A lot of people don’t realize. There’s a reason carrier pigeons helped save the world. I posted a long while back about efforts in some European cities to curb pigeon populations by providing dovecotes and feeding stations outside of urban parameters, and then issuing mandates against feeding within the dense urban areas. It’s working in some areas and I’d love to see a more benevolent perspective toward pigeons arise here. Doubtful, but I can still hope.
@Out Walking the Dog, thanks for the comment. I’ve followed some of the Red-tail stories from NYC and would love to see them in person. Last time I was in town, I didn’t get the chance. On the crows … I photographed crows and one blackbird “escorting” a Bald Eagle off site here in Seattle. There’s one shot I took which shows the size comparison and it’s just amazing how brave the birds are in face of much larger raptors. I met someone who’d been mobbed and struck by angry crows and she said it really did hurt when they strike. I’m thinking raptors know what they’re in for and would rather just leave the area.