Perfectly Timed Photo Shows Singing Blackbird Creating Vortex Rings with His Breath

This year, amateur bird photographer Kathrin Swoboda achieved a career-changing shot. Like many photographs of birds, her portrait of a blackbird stars a perched, singing subject. What sets this photograph apart from others, however, is that viewers can actually see his song—an element expertly captured by the strategic photographer.


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Early on March 17, 2019, Swoboda set out toward Huntley Meadows Park, an island in Virginia favored by nature photographers for its wildlife-friendly wetlands. Here, she hoped to photograph the male red-wing blackbird, a robin-sized species of bird known for its crimson shoulder markings and distinctive throaty song. "Specifically," Swoboda tells My Modern Met, "I wanted to photograph their breath, which when expelled would condense in the cold air."