As I focused my camera on a female Downy Woodpecker perched by the auto tour road at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I caught sight of a tiny bird darting about near the water. I quickly adjusted my camera and lens, which I had set up on a bean bag draped over my truck’s open window, to capture a shot of the elusive little bird.

Note: I later contacted a fellow photographer, Mia McPherson, who was able to identify the bird as a Swamp Sparrow.

The Elusive Swamp Sparrow

The Elusive Swamp Sparrow

However, the Swamp Sparrow proved to be quite the challenge to photograph. It was constantly moving in and out of the brush, giving me only brief windows of opportunity to capture its image. Despite the Sparrow’s evasiveness, I was able to capture a few shots that highlighted its unique features and personality. It was a thrilling moment to capture the beauty of this often-overlooked bird in its natural habitat, and a reminder of the joys and challenges of wildlife photography.

These small birds are migratory and spend their winters in the southern regions of the United States, including Oklahoma, before returning north to breed in the spring.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: RF 800mm F11 IS STM


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: February 13, 2023 (09:53 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11 (Fixed)
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000
  • ISO: 2500 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 800 mm (Fixed)