Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Late fall and early winter is one of the toughest times of year to capture images of birds. Compared to all other months it seems November & December is when I take the least number of photographs. This is mostly due to the lack of birds around and harsh weather.
One thing that never seems to fail in drawing birds is a bird feeder. A bird feeder set up isn't just a bird feeder. A bird feeder set up usually consists of multiple established bird feeders in an area drawing in many birds. An established bird feeder is simply a bird feeder you have had out for a while that the birds are used to. On the day you plan on photographing birds you need to find a way to get the birds closer to you. The easiest way to do that is to remove all feeders except a single feeder. I usually use my car as a blind near by, i also have a Kwick Camo blind if need be. The trick is to be set up and ready for when the birds arrive. This usually means being there before sunrise waiting in the cold, standing or sitting very still.
|Squirrels always take advantage of bird feeders and can become a real pest.|
I simply leave some bigger nuts for them to feed on.
I usually go out in the forest before the day I plan on shooting and collect some interesting sticks to use as perches for the birds. Anyone can get a photo of a bird sitting on a stick. If you want your images to go to the next level then you need to find interesting sticks or stumps. This usually means that they are coverd in moss, leichen, buds, or flowers. I then place the sticks just before or to the side of the single feeder and then wait... And wait... Eventually the birds will come to the feeder. As they drop down from the higher trees they will usually land near the feeder for a final look to make sure the coast is clear before feeding. With any luck the birds will choose the interesting moss coverd sticks you have erected near by.
This all sounds easy enough but a lot of time and planning goes into getting "the shot". Each morning for the last few weeks I have monitored a feeder setup for many hours. At minimum I check on my set up two to three times a day to make sure all feeders are full and also to get an idea of what species are hanging around and to learn the habits of the birds. I've learned that Northern Flickers seem to feed from 8-10am each day with peak feeding being around 9am. The only types of bird foods I use are suet cakes & black oil sunflower seeds.
When you are attracting many birds into an area it never goes unnoticed by local cats and also birds of prey like the Sharp shined hawks. Just this morning this hawk bombed the bird feeders after some smaller birds. It was so focused on capturing a meal it didn't notice me get out of my car and walk right up to it.