Birds in the Wild
Bird Photography - Around the house !

Who hasn't dreamt of becoming a noted photographer, combing the world in search of unforeseen images ! Of course, that isn't accessible to everyone ! However, it is not always necessary to climb hill and dale to get a good clip ! Sometimes you don't even need to get out of… your yard ! It's a bit more restrictive, but with a bit of imagination and a good dose of strategy, it is possible for you to capture very interesting scenes.

Attract the birds !

Before all else, attract the birds into your yard. If there are a few trees and shrubs, plants or at least a small basin of water in your yard, all hopes are allowed. In proposing a variety of foods to the birds, up to fifteen species could visit your yard at different seasons.

First, it is important that food and water be offered near a window of the house. Choose a window where the sun is in behind you during the better part of the day. This way you will avoid counter-day photography and benefit from optimum lighting conditions. Then place food in relations to the minimum focus distance of your telephoto lens. Generally a distance of 5 to 6 meters is fine.

Act discreetly !

In order to better conceal yourself and not frighten the birds, make a screen from a piece of cloth the size of the window. Chose the color to match you house's exterior finish. Cut a hole in the fabric as to enable the telephoto lens to protrude. Later, you can attach your fabric temporarily to the window from the inside with thumb tacks.

When you take pictures during winter, don't forget to close the room door and to lower temperature setting to the minimum. In addition to saving energy, this will reduce blur from mist on the lens caused by heat escaping the window.

Once well installed in your hiding place (house) on a bench with your tripod, wait a few moments, and the birds will soon return to their routine. You will then have all the time you want to observe what is going on outside and be at leisure to take shots at the moment of your choice.

A natural setting

In order to give your images a more natural character, place branches around the feeding area. Before they eat, birds like to pose themselves in the surroundings. You can then photograph them as though they were in a forest.

As for me, I particularly like to take shots from the basement window. From that angle, I am at the same level as the birds. I feel as if amongst them. Scattered grain here and there, a few leaves and branches, and you've got yourself a decor so natural you'll even have the experts fooled!

With just a bit of imagination

You can also photograph birds from a 2nd story window. It's the perfect place to catch sight of birds which perch in a nearby tree. You can also hang a feeder or drinking trough from a tree at window level. Many species of birds hang out on the top of trees. To photograph those species, the top floor of your house is perfect.

There are other excellent places to photograph birds at home. Certain garden flowers attract hummingbirds. You will be astonished at how these tiny tame birds willingly accept a photo shoot.

During winter, put snow to work for you. When accumulation is sufficient, dig a hole and make a hideout like the ones you used to make as a kid. Then throw a bit of food on the snow a few meters in front of you, and voilà, a front row seat !

As you can see, the possibilities are numerous. Just takes a bit of imagination. To best choose the spot to suite yourself, take note of the direction from which the birds usually arrive, and of their favorite perches. By anticipating the movements of the birds, you will be better prepared to photograph them.

   Alain Hogue
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