Fight or Flight

Posted by AMac on February 21, 2008

In 1915, Walter Cannon theorized that animals react to threatening situations with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. He coined the term "fight or flight."

I know what that guy was talking about.

Take for example a little sparrow, we'll call him Peepers, enjoying a sunflower seed sandwich on a sunny summer day, when all of a sudden I show up with my camera to take his picture. Peepers is only 5" tall and I'm 79" tall, a menacing presence to the little guy for sure. According to Mr.Cannon, this little bird who now perceives me as a threat, will do one of two things. He will fight, knowing his odds of taking me out are slim, or he will flee, which seems like a great idea for Peepers considering he is the only animal that can literally fly away. And I cannot follow.

You see what I'm getting at? Of course you do, say it with me now. How do we combat shutter shyness in birds? How do we paint these wonderful creatures with light if they won't stick around long enough to hold up their end of the deal? I have an answer.

A Phottix Wireless Remote Switch, a Nikon D200 Digital SLR Camera (my apologies to Mr.Cannon) and a tripod is all you need to capture intimate pictures of birds like Peepers.

I recently struck gold on eBay when I found this Phottix Wireless Remote Switch from Hong Kong for just 20 bucks. I challenge anybody out there to find a quality piece of modern day photography equipment for $20. This thing is a steal. It works by attaching a receiver to the camera and holding the remote in your hand. Its really that simple. From a distance of up to 100 meters I can take a picture, no strings or wires attached.

As soon as this magic arrived on my stoop I set up shop in my backyard, which means I set the camera on a tripod and slinked back into the house, remote in hand. Not too long after Peepers showed up to snack, just where I anticipated him to perch. With the press of a button I shot the little bird. I shot him several times in fact and he wasn't the only one. I've shot several birds since Peepers and with some luck in the near future I plan to shoot the high-class cardinal that streaks around my backyard like break lights on a dark rainy night.

One more note. I found a great website for identifying birds. allows you to search through thousands of bird species by selecting characteristics of the bird in question such as location, size, shape, color and many others. One of the more interesting questions I came across, it asks, "Does the bird have a fowl mouth?"

Thank you and goodnight.

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