I saw a pair of Black Phoebes flycatching from branches overhanging Los Gatos creek, and I waited patiently for them to fly to the trees behind me so I didn’t have to try to shoot right into the sun. But of course, they didn’t cooperate, so I kept adjusting where I stood to see if I could get more than just a dark silhouette of their shape. The results were better than I had expected — mainly because backlighting illuminates things you might not have seen otherwise.
I’ve often wondered why hawks face into the sun when hunting from telephone pole perches. Kestrels, in particular, will sit on phone lines facing directly into the setting or rising sun, which you would think would produce a lot of interfering glare in their eyes. But if it’s a consistent behavior, then there must be some advantage to it. Bird vision is far superior to our own, with higher densities of color detecting cells, sensitivity to ultra-violet light, and two areas of acute focus instead of one, to list a few of the differences. Perhaps glare-reducing eyeshades are another feature of avian vision that enables them to detect prey.