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Old November 26th, 2010, 01:46 PM   #16
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Lyons, Colorado
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Hi Per:

Welcome back after such a long hiatus!

This entry exhibits all the technical camera expertise that we have come to expect in a Per Johan film. I was especially taken by the depth of field in so many shots, with crisp foreground subject and deep winter-forest behind. These types of shots made up for some of the other more static angles due to the fact that you are filming from a blind. The diversity and beauty of your little subjects is masterfully captured.

You narrate most effectively and the music selection enhances all that you hope to portray in this piece, a sense of underlying tension to what seems like and should be innocent feeding from a feed tray.

I'm just not the biggest fan of witnessing predation. If it were up to me, I'd choose a world where we are all vegetarians and wildlife could come and sit on my knee. Ha, oh well!

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Old November 26th, 2010, 10:06 PM   #17
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Your work is always an inspiration Per and I can’t really add much more of value to the comments that have already been given except to suggest that a few of your wonderful jib shots showing the woodland context would be a good way to introduce more camera movement into this film. It is, however, the content and final statement that I feel I have to challenge.

I have considered for some now what I should write and before commenting on your film I decided to do a little research into the behaviour and feeding patterns of the Spotted Nutcracker to better understand what is going on here because to be quite honest I am not very happy about what I am seeing.

The incident in your film showing the aggressive behavior of the Nutcracker is not the same incident that you showed us in the “Tales of wonder and Woe” thread which means that at least two little birds have been killed by a Nutcracker at your feeding station so far. Clearly something is not right here. I have to say up front that I am not convinced that the behaviour filmed at an artificially constructed feeding station is representative of what happens in the wild.

According to my research the Nutcracker feeds primarily on conifer seeds, or nuts of trees in the pine and spruce families. Larger birds eat hazel nuts.

Nutcrackers store nuts and seeds to eat at a later time when food is scarce by burying them. (Because they don’t always remember where they stored the seeds, this species is responsible for the sowing of new pine trees and has been responsible for the re-establishment of the Swiss Pine over large areas in the Alps of central Europe formerly denuded by man.)

A couple of sites mention that if no seeds or nuts can be found, nutcrackers eat insects and berries. They also take smaller birds, eggs, nestlings, small rodents and carrion such as road kills.

The Tits eat mainly insects but also seeds.

It seems to me that there is a conflict of space and food at your feeding station and that the little birds are feeding here at great risk. I do not believe that the aggressive behaviour on the part of the Nutcracker would happen very regularly in the wild because of the nature of its primary diet – large seeds - and because the Nutcracker would not be in such close proximity to lots of small feeding birds on a continual basis as they are at your feeding table.

It is very clear that you did not expect this to happen when you set up your feeding station as you have done for years now, but now the unexpected arrival of the Spotted Nutcracker this year is posing a problem. The fact that this happened and that you got amazing footage of the kills is one thing but the big question is “What now?”

I thought at first it might be a good idea to move the hazel nuts away from the other seeds but looking at your film again I see that the nutcracker is also eating the sunflower seeds so that would not help much. I can only think the best way to deal with this is to keep the hazelnuts and tail off the rest and relocate it elsewhere without the hazelnuts to prevent more killing of the little birds.

I realize that I have probably opened up a can of worms here and so, rather than clutter your feedback thread with a discussion on the merits of what I have written I will start a new thread on the subject of feeding centres.

I trust you will recognize that this post is born out of a genuine concern for the smaller birds who are at a distinct disadvantage here and that I could not walk away from this with a clear conscience without at least drawing attention to what I believe has now become a tricky problem.

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Old November 27th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #18
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Rejecting my entry for judging!

Girls, sorry that I was showing you this predator kill! Well, this happen all over the globe every minute.

It was not of my intension to make someone feel bad and therefor I have decided to withdraw my entry for any judging this round.

Per Johan
- Per Johan
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Old November 27th, 2010, 03:57 AM   #19
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Hi Per
I won't comment on this discussion here but I would just like to say I don't think you film should be removed from judging. If you are sure that's what you want to do then ok, but I would urge you to reconsider.

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Old November 27th, 2010, 11:18 AM   #20
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Hey friend:

Please don't jump to conclusions Per!

Your wildlife film contributions are greatly respected and appreciated on the UWOL forum and this latest entry is no exception. You have produced a film that meets all of the requirements to be entered and judged in this challenge.

I for one have no intention of removing your film unless of course you sincerely feel it is what you wish for me to do. I also know that I have the backing of the Round-table administrators of UWOL in saying this.

Voicing a personal preference concerning an entry on a feedback thread happens all the time on all of the threads. I certainly hope that voicing these opinions never becomes grounds for removing a film from the forum. There would be no films left on the forum to view!

I sincerely apologize, Per, if my comment that I don't enjoy watching a kill unfold on film felt like a personal attack on the merits of your film. This comment is made from someone who is so tender at heart that I line up wasps on my kitchen counter and feed them honey in the fall when they have nowhere else to go! Sheesh! That's Cat's reality for ya!

Bless you Per. You are a valued contributor to this forum, along with all the other players that grace this site with their film-making expertise, passion and creative voice.

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Old November 28th, 2010, 05:55 AM   #21
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Per Johan, please do not retract your film from judging. That would be wrong in my opinion!
Not to start a discussion, but I believe that everyone here who know you, know that you really care about the wildlife.
I look forward to see your next films!
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Old November 28th, 2010, 06:52 AM   #22
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Per, please do not remove your entry. In nature death is always part of life. It does not matter if the bird killed for food, defence or to protect its territory, that is nature. The truth is, your got it on video and you shared it with all of us and for that I thank you. Please keep it in. Bob
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Old November 28th, 2010, 07:02 AM   #23
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Per Johan,
Do not retract your film from judging! In my opinion it is important to produce realistic wildlife films. Not just wishes and dreams. Retracting your film could be the first step into a sort of romanticism of the UC. I do not think moving into this direction will be favourable for any wildlife photographer.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 01:59 PM   #24
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Per Johan,

First, the nature of predation is everywhere all the time. We have cause and effect in all that is around us all the time. sometimes these cause and effects allow us to see and perceive things that happen out in the wild all the time, it is just brought closer to home.

I love seeing the nature of predation in action, even the small birds killing the bugs in my flower garden!!!

I feel fortunate to have seen such an amazing piece of footage, probably the first in the world; that is cool in itself!

thank you Per Johan for including it, and please let it stand.
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old November 28th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #25
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Per Johan,

That was astonishingly beautiful footage. I feel privileged to have seen it and, having watched a number of the superb UWOL videos this time out am increasingly nervous, as a narrative filmmaker, about raising my game enough to compete with you guys in the charity challenge. I can assure you that no comments about filming rocks will come from this quarter ;)

Thank you,

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Old November 28th, 2010, 10:24 PM   #26
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Per Johan,
I've been away for a few days and see there is some controversy. When I first viewed your film I recalled an incident I observered a few years ago - a mother hen and her chicks were foraging for food on an empty lot, nearby an white egret was investigating a newly mowed lawn. Suddenly the egret flew over to the chicks, grabbed one in it's beak and flew off with it while the mother hen went berserk, but was unable to stop it. Until that day I never knew egrets ate anything but bugs behind the lawn mowers, and it was a bizarre scene like something out of the dinosaur ages. Obviously this has been going on since those dinosaurs ages. From what I've read in your posts, you feed the birds all year to help them get through the winter, and it's pretty cool to have them around. That scene would have happened whether you had the camera there or not, and it was just fate that you had it set up to capture a scene that has probably been occuring for many millions of years. That bird is a descendant of the dinosaurs.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 02:43 AM   #27
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Per the last thing I expected was for you to bow out on my account so I hope you have reconsidered!

What I expected was for you to agree that a change to the configuration of your feeder could be necessary under the circumstances or at least to enter into a vigorous debate on the subject. It is the filming of this predation in a contrived situation due to the events that have unfolded there that I am challenging.

Of course predation happens that was not my point.

I apologise for putting you through so much unnecessary pain and unpleasantness in the process of putting across my concerns.

Cat my apologies that all this went so pear-shaped.


Last edited by Marj Atkins; November 29th, 2010 at 03:10 AM. Reason: to remove one word out of place here.
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Old November 29th, 2010, 07:47 AM   #28
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Hi Everyone,

Filming birds at feeders is a rewarding exercise because of the concentration of birds and the interactions that we see there. Per's film illustrates several fascinating aspects of the behaviour of several birds with remarkably good footage. In my view, it is the essence of good documentary filmmaking with no attempt to hide the conditions under which the film was made.

On the predation that occurs at bird feeders, there is precious little actual research (although lots of anecdotes and unsupported advice). I did find one study ("Predation of Birds at Feeders in the Winter" Journal of Field Ornithology 56(1):8-16 Erica Dunn and Diane L Tessaglia, winter 1994) that specifically looked at bird predation at feeders. The conclusion was pretty straightforward. I won't repeat in detail, but based on volunteers from Feeder Watch observations, essentially they said that cats and windows are major causes of bird mortality in and near feeders. Avian predators included several species of hawks. These hawks need to eat between 1 and 3 birds per day to survive. The average number of deaths from predation reported at bird feeders was 1 per winter -- not per day (range from 0 to 37). Most avian predations takes place somewhere other than at bird feeders even for resident hawks.

The highest avian predation rates on birds are at nesting seasons (mostly vulnerable fledglings) and migration events and can account for 30% to 10% of the population of prey species respectively (independent research results from other studies).

Their conclusion was that it is unlikely bird feeders cause increased mortality in birds. In fact other studies suggest that bird feeders "may actually provide relatively safe havens from predation. There are more individual birds on hand to be alert and sound alarms. Moreover, food supplements may reduce foraging time and, concurrently, the periods of maximum exposure to predators."

So at least according to this study, it is highly probable that a filmmaker will eventually see predation at the feeders, but the actual predation rates at the feeders is likely similar to or may even be lower than in nature.

Hope that helps the discussion on filmmaking at bird feeders. Certainly it would be helpful to find more research studies that would add to the factual base of our discussions.

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