“So, what is the first step in photographing birds?
It’s finding them!”

Photographing birds are becoming more and more necessary with the increased popularity of nature photography. Photographing birds presents many challenges that can become addictive to overcome.

With the right preparation and insight, photographers have been able to present birds that showcase exotic patterns and colours.

If you are going after a particular kind of bird, you may have to do some research on their migration and nesting habits.

Now, birds of prey are a bit different that your normal birds, but in a god way. They are very territorial and usually come back to the same location often.

Now that the bird is found, the photo needs to be taken. Unless you have an unobstructed view of the subject and a telephoto lens, you may have to get in close. This can cause a problem sense they are startled easily.

Bird Spotting

Don’t Worry, Just Relax

When I am bird spotting I do two things: relax my eyes and listen. Listening helps you hear rustling leaves, wings flapping, and the birds calling. It is pretty amazing what you can hear once you really start listening. Besides, if you spend the whole day just using your eyes to look for birds, you probably won’t see very many. So instead of just looking, relax your eyes, don’t look so hard; let the birds find you. You will start to notice movement in your peripheral vision, and then you will have an area to look in.

Tom Benson, 37, from San Bernardino, scouts for birds using Leica binoculars, a camera and spotting scope at Upper Newport Bay.
///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: i.1031.birders – 10/27/13 – ANGELA PIAZZA, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – Competing birders in Orange County.

Whenever you see movement from the corner of your eye or actually hear a bird, stop moving. Eventually the bird will call or move again. This will allow you to pinpoint it better. Now you can start scanning the trees and find it.

Do not stare though. Just relax again. When you concentrate on looking at something, the high-resolution canters of your eyes cause you to focus on just that item. By relaxing, your peripheral vision will come into play. Movement from the corners of your eyes will become more apparent. Rather than seeing specific objects, the eye will see more shapes.

Eventually the shape that doesn’t belong will stand out. Pay attention to the thing that is out of place, rather than looking for a bird, A line that strangely angles opposite the way the branches angle will be back of a bird. A horizontal line in a field of tall vertical grass will become a deer’s back. That sort of thing.

Remember, in bird spotting, movement gives them away every time.

Spotting Birds of Prey

When spotting birds of prey, get familiar with the area where you are trying to find them. I have noticed that many birds that I photograph have a regular routine in their habitats. They have their favourite hunting grounds, they have their favourite roosts, etc. This is particularly true of predators, Hawks, Herons, etc…

If you see a Heron in a specific tidal pool, or a Hawk spending the day perched in a particular tree scouting for prey, there is a very good chance that they will come back to that spot. They may not come back tomorrow, but they will eventually.

Here is a good tip for chasers of Accipiter.

You should listen to the Crows!

I know that not many bird photographers want to spend time trying to get a good shot of a Crow, but they should not be ignored. If you hear a murder of Crows raising a racket, look around them. This often happens due to the presence of a bird of prey. Crows love to harass Hawks. So next time you hear a murder going crazy, get out your long lens and see what caused it. This trick also works with other territorial birds such as Mockingbirds, which will scold any predatorial birds in their area.

Approaching Birds

“Approach with caution!”

When you are approaching for photographing birds, several things will give you away. Noise and movement are the most obvious but the simple outline of the human shape can also be considered as a predator to most birds (and rightfully so).

One of the most important things to remember when sneaking up on birds is to move slowly. Like a foot a minute slow.

Noise, caused by movement while approaching birds, can be easily lowered by paying attention to the way you walk. The normal way that a human walks is heal to toe, where the heel hits first and then the ball of the foot slaps down. The problem is that this is sloppy and noisy.

Roll your feet into position and remember to move slowly. Just lift your foot a few inches off the ground, move it forward, then put it down while keeping your weight on your back foot. When you are putting your foot down, touch it to the ground with the outside of your foot near the ball. Do this slowly just in case you feel something under your foot, perhaps a twig. If you do feel something like this, simply lift it again and place it somewhere else. When the outside edge is securely on the ground without obstructions under it, lower the heel. At this point, only the outside of your foot should be touching the ground. Now roll your foot to the inside. The last part of your foot to touch the ground should be the inside near the ball. Switch your weight to this foot and continue.

The easiest way not to show the outline of your body is to not let the animals see you. Do not just pop up from behind something without checking your surroundings. Your silhouette could be clear against the sky. Keep yourself low, using the trees and shrubs as cover. You may have to move while hunched down or squatting (don’t worry, you’ll get used to it). Remember, when you are half your height, you are twice as hard to see. Crawl if you have to (that’s why washing machines were invented).

Make sure the sun is directly behind you so if the animal looks at you it will be blinded. Put a tree or a bush between you and the animal so it cannot see you as you approach. When you reach the tree or bush, stay low and come out from behind it. But when you step out, be ready to take the picture. Most likely it will take off after you do.

Remember, when you are trying to spot birds, movement gives them away. When you are sneaking up on birds, your movement gives you away.

Post by: Bird Photography Tips and Techniques

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