The Joys of Backyard Birding: Part 3

It takes time, but following the guidelines discussed in Parts 1 & 2, gradually invites the indigenous wildlife to visit your yard. If you have little or no naturally growing food sources nearby, and close sightings are still too rare, you can provide various feeders to supplement and encourage closer encounters. Which feeders to choose and what kind of foods to offer will vary by habitat. So you should tailor your offerings to fit the species who live there, and be aware that any new food source will attract other wildlife than just birds.

Placement of feeders may be limited by available space or aesthetics, but they should be relatively close to cover (trees and shrubs), and close enough also to whichever vantage points (camera positions) you will most often use when photographing the wildlife they attract.  We’re not too concerned about the lighting or aesthetics at the feeders, because we’re not going to take many feeder shots. But consideration should be given to the lighting and backgrounds available in the areas surrounding the feeder… this is where we’ll be trying to capture our images.

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Perches and Poses:

“Those of us who feed our birds soon learn that while wild birds will indeed come closer for their favorite treats, photographing them on and around the feeders often doesn’t make for the nicest images. Providing strategically placed perches near the feeding area actually has several advantages for both the photographer, and the birds. We can place a variety of photogenic stop-over points in places that offer us good shooting angles, better light, and nicer backgrounds, while avoiding the mess and clutter of the feeder in the photo. The birds find the perches comfortable places to pose for us, both while “awaiting their turn at the table”, and often while relaxing after they eat also.
We use a variety of driftwood pieces which are easily moved around, and some man-made things as well…”

And of course nearby tree branches and shrubs can offer many natural and lovely photo-ops also. Most birds will perch on some familiar (usually elevated) perch within sight of common food sources, to survey the menu and assess the traffic before coming to eat. Some will hangout near the feeder for awhile, and some will just take a morsel quickly away and back to a favorite perch to eat it. Noticing such specific behaviors allows us to be prepared and even plan for those often fleeting but sometimes fabulous opportunities to photograph them.

We shoot everyday. And we spend a lot of time observing birding scenes which are less photogenic or beyond the reach of our lenses. But even when closeup opportunities are plentiful, a lot of factors still have to align (including luck), to produce the images we are striving for. The more time we spend outside with the birds, and the more shots we take of them, the luckier we get.

We hope this series has been helpful to some, and we wish happy birding to you all.



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