February 26, 2024

Photography Tips for Backyard Birds. Capturing the Best Bird Pictures.

Bird Photography isn’t just for pro’s.  With a digital, traditional, or even a video camera and a little patience, you can shoot great bird images in your own backyard.

If you wanted to get the best bird photos you could:perched bird 7

  1. Spend thousands of dollars on photography equipment.
  2. Travel to expensive faraway places.
  3. Wade through muddy swamps, fight off mosquitoes, and sweat profusely in the humidity to get that “perfect shot”.
  4. Check your own backyard

If you like option “D”, they’re going to love my six step plan for snapping great bird photos.  This method has given me professional quality photographs for relatively little money and work.  All it takes is a little practice and patience.  Chances are, you already have plenty of interesting backyard birds in your area, such as Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black Capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, Song Sparrows, Dark Eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees and more.  So keep reading, and soon you’ll be able to capture a bird photo you’ll be just as proud of as the pros.  And the best part is you don’t even have to leave your backyard!

Step 1.  Put Up a Bird Feeder

Put up a bird feeder.  Almost any kind will due as long as the birds can get the food.  My personal favorite for this activity is a platform feeder.  Although it doesn’t have a lot of pizzazz, it does the trick.  (its’ basically a plane horizontal stand with low walls on the sides to contain the seed).  You can place this type of feeder anywhere, fill it with any kind of seed and use it to attract any type of bird.

Step 2.  Fill the Feeder with Seed

Fill the feeder with tempting food.  There are many kinds of birdseed, and some are better than others.  I prefer Black Oil sunflower seeds because it tends to attract the most birds.  You could also try Millet for sparrows, peanuts to attract Blue Jays, and thistle for finches.  Try a few different offerings in advance to see what kind of birds you will attract.

Step 3.  Location, Location, Location

perched goldfinchPut your feeding station in a good location for photography.  If you don’t have a perfect place, don’t panic.  Find the best spot you can, giving highest priority to areas with good light.  As a general rule, try to follow these guidelines.

• Your best bet is to find a spot that gets early morning sun, which will give you a nice lighting.

• Place the feeder near cover, such as bush’s, trees and other objects so the birds have a spot to perch and the background in the photo looks natural.

• It’s important NOT to put the feeder in the shade.  This will cast shadows on the birds that will show up in your photos.

• Position the feeder near a window, so you can easily capture the moments from inside your home.

Step 4.  Providing a Perch

perched bird 2Place perches strategically around the feeder.  To get nice, clean shots of birds in their natural environment, you’ll probably have to “create” perches.  Birds like to land on branches near a feeder before eating to make sure the coast is clear.  You might want to experiment a little to see which perch works best and where, but I like a plain dead branch stuck into the ground near the feeder.  It’s sturdy, doesn’t wilt and it isn’t complicated.

Mix it up, though.  You don’t want all of your photos to look the same, so give your feathered friends plenty of perches to choose from.

Step 5.  Go Into Hiding

Find a cover for yourself.  You can devise many ways to hide yourself 10 to 15 feet away from your birds.  This distance should be perfect for shooting your photos.  However, depending on your camera, you can move in a little closer if you don’t have the ability to zoom in.

If you have somewhere inside the house that you can shoot your photos from an open window that’s close to your feeder, that’s perfect.  If not, consider putting up a tent in your yard and shoot from inside the tent.  Another option is to build a temporary cover in your yard.  Hang a camouflage tarp over a couple of metal posts stuck in the ground, this too works wonderfully.

Make sure you’re comfortable, though.  Finding the perfect shot takes patience.  If you have a long wait, you’ll want a chair to sit in to keep from getting cramped.

Step 6.  Check Your Equipment.

Use basic, reliable camera equipment.  You can spend a lot of money on fancy cameras and lenses, but they are not necessary.  The three main things you need are a basic lens, a tripod, and a flash.  The tripod will help you keep the camera still and pointed in the right direction while the flash can help lighten a dark picture and put a glint in the bird’s eye.  Pre-focus your camera where you think the birds are crowing to land.  Some birds stay for a only an instant, so you’ll need to snap the picture quickly.

One final tip.

Video Bird photography can also be accomplished with the same idea in mind.  Bird videos you make yourself will bring you hours of enjoyment watching your backyard birds from the comfort of your own living room. While you are away at work or if you don’t have time to watch your backyard birds in person, this is the perfect solution!  Two Bird Cams are available from my store and I’ve provided two short videos so you can see what you can expect from each.

Hawk Eye Nature Cam

Hawk Eye Nature Cam shoots black and white infrared images at night and color video by day.  You can attach it to a tree, a feeder, or inside of a bird house and see your backyard birds like you have never seen them before.  Video credit to YouTube’s Wildman50.

You can get the Hawk Eye Nature Cam by clicking here

The Audubon Birdcam

Audubon Birdcam is a better quality camera (but also more expensive) however, as you will see it records images are clearer.  This is the obvious solution for serious minded bird watchers.

Here is a video from Wingscapes showing you what you can expect from the Audubon Birdcam:

You can get the Audubon Birdcam by clicking here.

Have fun and enjoy your bird photography!

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