Nothing in nature compares to capturing beautiful photographs of wildlife. Add in brilliant color, personality, behavioral habits, along with pure luck, and chances are, you are a bird photographer. The excitement in photographing a beloved bird species, along with the time and dedication to capture such an elusive subject, will be rewarded with artwork suitable for framing. Let’s take a look at some techniques for photographing birds to ensure success!
Many of the birds in this feature were photographed at feeders where the bird was drawn closer to the camera. Understand what birds to expect with the food or seeds you have in your feeder. Not every bird will come to your feeder due to the particular seeds available. Keep your bird food fresh and don’t allow moldy seeds to remain in the feeder. Provide a water source nearby so the birds can feed and hydrate at the same time. As with food, don’t allow the water to become stagnant. Birds will take several days to acclimate to your feeder, so be patient.
Use telephoto lenses when photographing birds and keep your lens aperture on F2.8 or F4 to ensure depth of focus is shallow, and the background details are soft and do not interfere with your subject. As with all wildlife photography, focus on the eyes, keeping them in sharp focus.
Provide a perch for incoming birds as they visit your feeder — most birds land on the perch prior to feeding and wait for several seconds before eating. Observe the habits of the birds, and you will realize which order and time period the birds will use before coming back for more food.
In my yard, the Chickadees always lead the way when the feeder is refreshed and birds start coming in for feeding. Birds, as most wildlife, will have two peak feeding periods: early in the morning after sunrise, and another peak one hour prior to sunset. Make sure you are ready to photograph at those times also.
Here are some wonderful sources on information to aid in feeding birds, identifying birds, and the study of bird habits:
• birds.cornell.edu (great for identifying birds)
(a site to visit for birds’ behavioral traits)
(a good site for overall info on birds)
Visit these sites, and your success photographing birds will grow by leaps and bounds, with a little flying thrown in!