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Yep, there's lots of pockets of nature here in So Cal, Ken, more than most folks -- even those who live here -- are aware of. And birds, of course, don't care if the greenery is in Compton, or bordering a freeway (Hepatic Tanager and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, respectively), they'll go where the food is! And you're right about early morning and evening being the best times/possibilities for getting the sun at your back. For dealing with backlit birds, as with the recent GHO fledgling, I shoot in RAW, underexpose the bird, then re-adjust things in DPP RAW software,using Tone Curve Assist and RAW brightness adjustment, to where you can see the bird's details yet still have highlight control around the flared edges. It's a bit tricky, but it works well enough for me...