Flyout, Truth or Consequences
Sheer numbers are impressive. This photograph is important and welcome documentation of the thousands of black birds that use the Rio Grande as a road map guiding their movements through Sierra County during the late fall and early winter. Otherwise, only those lucky to be outside near the river when these likely mixed groups of birds fly south in the early morning and return north in long, dark, winding ribbons at sunset will have witnessed this thrilling natural phenomenon.
Skillfully composed so that the flock fills the entire picture frame, the image conveys the scale of the daily flyout from what the photographer suspects is the birds’ roost at Mims Lake. The outlines of the birds’ beating or resting wings are endlessly varied, inviting closer inspection of each individual. The scatter-pattern of the birds’ placement against a mottled sky is pleasing, as well.
Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012) elevated studies of the behavior of birds to an art form. One critic deemed Fukase’s “Ravens,” published in 1986, the best photography book of the previous 25 years. This meditation belongs in that esteemed company.
—Commentary by Tom Hinson, editor, Photograph of the Week
Editor’s Note: Click on the photograph to view it in a light box for even greater clarity.
Professional, amateur and phone-camera photographers alike are invited to submit images to the Sierra County Sun for possible publication in the Sun’s “Photograph of the Week” feature. The deadline for consideration is every Friday at 5 p.m. For further information, click on the Help Us Report button on our home page and then check the box labeled “I want to submit a photo to Photograph of the Week.”