234-003-mountain-bluebird-2006-06-13-damon-s-calderwood-burns-oregon-usa-0243

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Male with young

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Male with young

JPG Raster, 13.35 MB

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2 years 2 months ago

Trip to Burns, Oregon, with David R. James & Damon S. Calderwood 20 May – 23 June 2006.
We found this family of Mountain Bluebirds in the unoccupied nest of an American Robin. Although this occurrence had been documented, it had never before been photographed. The babies were very vocal and since shrikes, owls and hawks were all nesting within earshot, I placed juniper branches over the nest when I left each evening. I did it in a way so that the parents could get to their babies to feed and brood.
I managed to get a ticket from an Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife trooper for harassing wildlife, to wit: Mountain Bluebird on the 15 June. He told me that the maximum amount was $299 American but that if I plead guilty the judge would reduce the amount. WHAT HE DIDN’T TELL ME WAS THAT THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THAT THE JUDGE COULD REDUCE THE TICKET WAS 25 %. I plead guilty and was given a $225 fine with 9 months to pay with 9 – $25 instalments. The judge made a point of telling me that the ticket was only enforceable in Oregon. Basically, I think he was telling me to go home and forget about my misadventure with the trooper. Instead, I paid the ticket in full.
Ironically, the trooper didn’t insist that I pack up and leave. As a result of the “ticket”, I contacted the Oregon State Biologist in Salem who referred me to the Federal Biologist in Washington, DC. I was trying to get someone to tackle the challenge of coming up with a Federal permit for people like me wanting to photograph birds at the nest. I was directed from pillar to post. The state biologist tried to tell me that farmers didn’t harvest hay until the nesting season was over in June. Her comments to me were not impressive.
We used Wein 200 strobes while in Burns that fired at 1/700 second full power, 1/1,400 second 1/2 power and 1/2,800 second at 1/4 power. Even at 1/2,800 second at 1/4 power, the strobes were not nearly fast enough to stop a small bird such as a bluebird in flight.
Damon eventually wrote an article about the incident for ‘Living Bird’, the most prestigious birding magazine in North America.