6 Tips for Taking Pictures of Wild Birds
It’s springtime, and if you’re like me, as soon as you step outside and hear all of the birds chirping, you run inside and grab your camera. But you face a problem: either the birds are too far away, or they are hidden in the trees and bushes. Here are a few tips to help attract the wild birds, so you can get some amazing picture from your porch.
1. Set up feeders
There are a lot of good websites already out there about how to set up feeders. Just make sure you set up the right feeders and use the correct seed for the birds you want to attract.
2. Set up a perch
Once you have your feeder set up in the correct spot, the next step is to set up a perch near the feeder. This is the most important step because this is where a lot of your pictures will come from. Find a stick and connect it to a stand. When picking a stick, make sure you get rid of unneeded twigs on the branch, so you get a clear picture of the birds. Also, make sure you know what type of bird you want to land there because they all have different size feet and won’t land on a branch that is too thick or too thin. I duct taped my stick to a vine pole to make my perch. I then placed the perch about a foot from the feeder. The birds will fly back and forth between the perch and the feeder. You will want to use a stick, so the photos look like the birds are in a tree or bush. Make sure you set up your perch so you have a clean back ground. You are controlling where the birds are going to land, so make sure it is in a great spot with no other distracting elements.
Now comes the hardest part: waiting. It may take a few days or weeks for the birds to start using your feeders. Once the birds start to use the feeders, leave them alone for a few days, so they get comfortable with the feeders, then set up your tripod where you will shoot from. Wait another couple days, so the birds get use to the tripod and learn it’s not a threat. Then add your camera to the tripod and wait a few more days for the same reason. After that you should be able to stand/sit behind your tripod and not scare the birds are long as you don’t make big or fast movements.
4. Wireless Triggers
Another way to take pictures of the birds it to set your camera on a wireless trigger. Focus your camera on the perch and then switch your lens to manual so it will not re-focus, and then whenever a bird lands on the perch, take a picture. This allows you to take pictures of the birds without scaring the birds because the birds should be used to your tripod and camera.
5. Time of Day
Most birds are most active in the morning and the late afternoon. Watch your feeders and note what time the birds come and feed. Then make sure you are there ready to take pictures at those times.
If you plan to take a trip and want to capture birds in the wild this is a great way to practice your camera skills and get to practice your camera settings. My camera settings are normally at or about 1/1000sec, the biggest aperture I’m able to use, and the lowest ISO that allows me to keep these setting. If I’m trying to take a picture of a bird in flight I tend raise my shutter speed to 1/1600sec to freeze the action. The smaller the bird the faster the shutter speed will have to be because their wings usually move faster.
Whether you are just starting out or have been photographing wild bird for years, taking pictures of birds in your backyard is a great way to hone your camera skills and have fun at the same time.