You just saved a bunch of money with using Geico.
Seriously. I was getting really bummed about my Sigma 170-500 producing shots that were totally not clear. I know, most of you would have tested out your new lens in 100 situations by now.
I just hadn't really had the chance to get it outside and use it in some really good lighting. SO, when I took the Red-bellied Woodpecker photos and they came out flat and parts blurry I was really not a happy camper. Then it struck me. Duh! It'd been several months since I had taken bird photos (something I do a lot of usually in the spring/summer), but I remembered that lighting in my kitchen is not very good and that with my other lens I'd had to keep everything very still and it really only worked well on a sunny day. Each day that I'd tried taking pictures with my new lens/camera has been verrrry cloudy. (and through my kitchen window which really needs to be cleaned.
So, I turned on every light in the house and set up my camera. I took pictures of various things in the house. They all turned out very crisp and clear.
I am SO happy! I was searching for the receipt and ready to take it back after I saw those RB Woodpecker shots. I've taken better photos than that with my eyes closed. Literally!
I am so so so glad that I didn't all of a sudden fail as a photographer. I just had a lesson to learn with my first really long lens.
Thank you for all of your suggestions!