It’s Just a Sparrow

Bird photography is one of the most demanding, challenging, and rewarding genres of photography (at least to me). Birds are everywhere in nature, so we have plenty of subjects in this genre. You don’t need to travel to remote and exotic locations to photograph birds (unless you are after a specific species of birds). One of the things I started to do once I moved to Utah 5 years ago was to learn about the birds that are part of our state and to photograph them. During this journey (which is still a work in progress), I decided to narrow down the species. I decided to focus on a specific family of species. This year, I am focusing mainly on sparrows of Utah. This is the story of how I photographed a Sagebrush Sparrow in Utah.

While I was trying to photograph sparrows, I learned about the Sagebrush Sparrow. One mistake I made during my early days in photography was not to study and learn about my subjects. I randomly went to places and tried to photograph birds in that place. This caused a lot of issues with long travels, for instance: driving for 10 hours at night to reach a location, trying to photograph a bird early in the morning, and then driving 10 hours back home. This was counterproductive and I was not getting the experiences I sought (spending time with birds.)

To be a good bird photographer, you must be a good birder. Once I started learning about birds, I realized that the Sagebrush Sparrow nests in Utah. In fact, it is one of the most commonly found birds if you know its habitat (sagebrush). I found that they are in the western part of Utah. I studied the bird’s behavior and reviewed e-bird checklists to understand when and where they are reported. I tried to photograph them and often failed to make an image. In life, luck and skill are only about 10-20%; the rest of the part has to be filled with patience, hard work and perseverance. With these skills, you can achieve anything you want to, whether it is photography or other facets of life. As a result of my perseverance, I finally found a few spots close to my home and photographed the Sagebrush Sparrow from my car using the vehicle as a photo blind.

Ultimately, it is not just a sparrow for me: it is an image I will cherish for the rest of my life. It is a lesson and an experience that I will remember forever.

Text and image by Krishna Prasad Kotti