Backyard Bird Photography - Tips for Beginners

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse on branch.
Tufted Titmouse on branch. | Source

Bird Photography Can Be Fun

Bird photography is one of the favorite genres of nature photographers. Who can resist taking pictures of these beautiful and graceful creatures? Not only do they come in different sizes from the great bald eagle to the smallest hummingbird, but also they range in so many different colors and patterns. Bird photography can be fun as well as rewarding. I don’t claim to be a great bird photographer, but I have learned a few things that may be helpful to the beginner and the best place to begin is right in your own backyard. Here are several tips you need to know to capture those really good bird pictures.


Hummingbird in Flight

Picture of hummingbird taken from my window.
Picture of hummingbird taken from my window. | Source

Bringing the Birds to You

The first things you need are the birds! The best place for a beginner at bird photography is to start in your own backyard. With a few well-placed bird feeders you can attract many different varieties of birds to your yard. Use a few different types of bird feeders. Of course there is always the hummingbird feeder. Place it close to a window in your house. You want to position it so it is not in the shade. You want to have the sun shining on these iridescently colored birds. Hang a bird feeder with sunflower seeds in it from a branch on a tree. This will attract the smaller birds such as the goldfinch, tufted titmouse and some cardinals. Use a platform feeder for the larger birds such as blue jays and woodpeckers. Using different types of feeders will bring a variety of birds to your yard.


Photography Equipment

Of course equipment is important. I do not have the largest lens or the most expensive cameras. I do have a Canon EF 75 x 300/mm zoom lens on a Canon Rebel xsi camera. The zoom lens offers more flexibility to get good shots and varying distances. For a good picture of one of our little feathered friends, you are going to need to get up close and personal.



Be sure that you are using a tripod. Because you are going to want to get excellent focus to get the detail of the feathers, you are going to have to use a tripod. You can set your tripod up as far away from your feeder as possible. This is where your telephoto or zoom lens is going to come in very handy. The farther away you are, the longer the birds are going to sit still.


Bluebird on Red Geranium

Bluebird in Spring
Bluebird in Spring | Source

Planning Your Shot

Watch the birds and see where they land before they land on the feeder. You don’t really want a picture of the birdfeeder. There will be someplace that the birds land before they go to the feeder. Have your camera ready by pre-focusing on this spot. If your camera has the capability to shoot in “bursts”, this is an excellent thing to do. Your camera will take several shots of the bird without you having to click the button each time. You may be surprised at some of the shots you can get by using the burst function. You also want to be sure that you are taking pictures on a still day. If the wind is blowing, even just a little, your pictures may be blurred.

Beautiful Male Cardinal

Male cardinal waiting his turn for the birdfeeder.
Male cardinal waiting his turn for the birdfeeder. | Source

Lighting

One of the most important factors in bird photography is lighting. In order to get good detail of the birds beautiful feathers, you need good lighting. Be sure the sun is shining on the bird itself and it none of it is shaded. Good light will give you good detail as well as bright bold colors. Good lighting will also help you take pictures with faster shutter speeds and get better focus also. You are going to need to use a faster shutter speed, such as 1/250 or up to 1/500 to actually stop the motion of a bird in flight. I sometimes like a little blur of the wings to actually show some motion. If that is the case, you may want to use a shutter speed of about 1/60 to 1/125.


Mourning Dove

Dove eating sunflower seeds on the ground.
Dove eating sunflower seeds on the ground. | Source

Patience

Now you have to be patient. The longer you have had your birdfeeder out, the more accustomed the birds will be to it and the more often they will go to it. You will also need to be very still as the birds are still going to wary of you. Get comfortable, be patient and take lots of pictures. Hopefully you are using a digital camera and you can take all the pictures you want. You can always discard the bad ones. Remember the more pictures you take, the better the changes of you getting a few good ones.


I hope my tips will be useful as you begin your journey into bird photography. With patience and practice it will be a very rewarding experience for you. Most of all enjoy the beauty Mother Nature has given us in these wonderful creatures. Happy Birding!


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Comments 52 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Jan! I'm glad you found my advice helpful. I love taking pictures of hummingbirds, but they are hard little speeders to capture. I wrote a hub with tips on taking pictures of them. I can't wait to check out the hub your wrote on the hummingbirds, going there right now. I talk to "my" birds all the time, doesn't everyone? :) Thank you for stopping by and I love you comment and appreciate all your support! Have a wonderful day. :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Audrey! Taking good pictures of birds is really not so hard. A good camera and a little patience are the two main ingredients. I take many pictures right out my front window. I have a bird bath at one window and a two bird feeders at another. Bringing the birds close to you is the hardest part. Thank you for your kind comment, you made my day! :)


janshares profile image

janshares 3 years ago from Washington, DC

sgbrown, thank you for this hub. I found your advice very helpful. I shot my first serious bird pictures last month. It was a hummingbird! It almost drove me crazy. I was so moved by the experience, I wrote a hub about it. You've inspired me to keep taking bird pics. I will start in my backyard where I've seen the most beautiful birds. I talk to some of them but that's another story. Great hub, voted up, useful, and awesome.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Just beautiful--and you make it looks so easy!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you Peggy! I hand hold my camera most of the time. About the only time I use my tripod is when I am taking pictures for my website or to sell to stock photography agencies. I love to sit out on the porch and watch the birds too! Me, my coffee and my camera, great way to start the day! I would love to see you pictures! Thanks for stopping by, votes and kind words! Have a wonderful day! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

You have some excellent photos! I don't have a tripod so would have to hand hold my digital camera. But if I would sit long enough on our patio, there is usually a parade of different birds that frequents our birdbath in the backyard. I have taken some photos of the ones that frequent our birdhouse...even a cute one of the parent bird feeding the open mouthed babies. Patience is truly the key! Up and useful votes.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Debbie! Thank you for such a kind comment. I'm glad you enjoyed my bird pictures. Have a great day! :)


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

what wonderful pictures of beautiful birds .. thank you for such a lovely hub

debbie


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello dinkan53! Thank you for your kind comment. I am still "honing" my skill and my patience. Thank you for stopping by, reading and voting on my hub, it is greatly appreciated! Have a wonderful day!


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 4 years ago from India

I know how hard it is to take birds photograph, from my own personal attempts. It takes a lot of skill and patience and thanks for providing as this beautiful hub. Rated up and interesting.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello molometer! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I love taking pictures of birds, but you are right, patience is the key. Thank you for your votes, it is always appreciated!


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Beautiful photos of these amazing birds.

And in your own garden too. So cool.

We get quite a few birds here too.

I will try some of your ideas to not spook them away. Patience is the key I guess. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and interesting.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Please, call me Sheila. Thank you so much for your more than kind comments! I really enjoyed your hub and think it makes a great addition to my blog. You are a very good writer. Thank you for your kind comment! Have a wonderful day!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

What brilliant lovely photographs Ms brown. The hummingbird is astonishing. They all are really. You are one talented photographer (and blogger). Thank you so much for visiting my gardening page and posting on your garden blog. Beautiful blog, I am very impressed, and flattered to be featured. Thank you so much. Regards, snakeslane


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Rachel! Thank you for your kind comments. I have been working on the Red-Tailed Hawks, but don't really have a good shot yet. I did get some good shots of a Mississippi Kite. At the time, I didn't know what it was, I had to look it up! LOL Thank you for stopping in and commenting. Have a wonderful day!


Farmer Rachel profile image

Farmer Rachel 4 years ago from Minnesota

Really cool article. It's amazing the variety of wildlife you can attract to your own backyard. I love your picture of the hummingbird (they're my favorite) - great shot! Do you ever photograph birds of prey?


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello bdegiulio! Thank you for your kind comment, vote and share! It is always greatly appreciated. Have a wonderful day!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello rajan! I am very glad you caught my hub in the feed. Thank you for your kind words. I love taking pictures of our little feathered friends, but sometimes it can be a little challenging. I appreciate your wonderful comment, votes and sharing! Have a wonderful day!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Sheila. What a great Hub. Wonderful tips and advice for taking photos of our feathered friends. Great photos, especially the hummingbird. Voting up, sharing, etc...


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Thanks to Annie I caught this lovely hub in the feed. Very simple explanation of the basic points for bird photography, you made my desire for photographing them stronger. Your pictures are awesome.

Thanks for sharing Sheila. Voted up all the way and shared.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Annie! I would LOVE to have the chance to take pictures of parrots in their natural habitat! You are so lucky! If you know of a spot where they perch from time to time, set up ahead of time. Maybe even leave something they like to eat laying around for them to find and they will start stopping in where you can catch them on camera. I would love to see a picture when you get one! Here is the link to my mover vac hub, http://sgbrown.hubpages.com/hub/My-DR-Lawn-and-Lea... It is definately one of the best purchases we every made. If you have a lot of leaves in the spring, it is well worth the money! Thank you for all your kind words, votes and sharing. I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a wonderful day!


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

Great tips for bird photography, we have a lot of parrots come by and I have tried to catch them passing but I have never just sat and waited, mmm, definitely a more successful method!! Will be giving it a go now. Thank you for the tips and the inspiration - your bird photos are amazing and I just adore the hummingbird shot. My votes to you Sheila and sharing!! (Oh, I found my way here while I was looking for your mower vac hub, will keep looking!!)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Vinaya! I have lots of birds come to my house in the country and I love taking pictures of them. Yes, it can be tricky, but I love the challenge. Thank you for your kind comment. Have a wonderful day! :)


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Photographing birds can be real tricky. This is very useful photography lesson. Your pictures are wonderful.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello TripleAMom. Thank you so much for your very kind comment. I love taking pictures. Birds and flowers are two of my favorite subjects. Thank you for stopping by, reading and commenting, it is always appreciated. Have a beautiful day! :)


TripleAMom profile image

TripleAMom 4 years ago from Florida

Your bird pics are beautiful. We have some amazing birds that visit our yard and I need to try some of your tips with them. The hummingbirds and cardinals are my absolute favorite. You are very talented.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Lilleyth. I am going to have to look up a towhee. I don't know what they look like. Luckily we have lots of bluebirds around here, I love to watch them. We usually have a set of them nest in a birdhouse I have in my yard, but nothing in there as of yet. Have you tried putting up a hummingbird feeder? The red ones, with red colored food is best to get them started to coming to it. Thank you for visiting another of my hubs. I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a wonderful day! :)


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Beautiful hub. We had a visitor yesterday who we have not seen, according to my bird list, since 1984 - a towhee. I ran for my camera, but he was gone before I could get a shot. We almost never see our favorite, the bluebird, although I do see them at the model home where I work that is near an open field. Haven't seen a hummer yet.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I understand the problems with birds and apartments. I am very glad you enjoyed my hub and thank you so much for all your kind words and votes. It is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

I live in an apartment and feeding the birds is not encouraged so I am limited to what I can get when I am out and about.

I have managed to capture some birds with my camera but most of the photographs I have taken of birds ends up as photographs of where a bird was a second before lol...

However none of my short comings as a bird photographer stopped me from thoroughly enjoying this hub and I loved your photographs.

I have voted this hub up and hit the interesting useful and beautiful buttons too. A great hub :-D


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Susan! Thank you for your kind words! :) I love taking pictures of my birds. I am always on the lookout for different birds that come to our feeders. Thank you for reading, commenting and voting! I truly appreciate it. Have a great day! :)


susanm23b 4 years ago

I LOVE birds. We have birdfeeders in our yard and really enjoy watching them. You have excellent tips here; you don't have to travel very far to find a great place to take pictures. Your photos are beautiful :) Voted up!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I just finished linking your hub to this one! Thank you for commenting and linking to mine too! Have a beautiful day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

LOL I just said the same thing to you about the Bird Count Hub! Great minds think alike, what can I say! :) Linking yours to mine! Have a beautiful day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

LOL I just said the same thing to you about the Bird Count Hub! Great minds think alike, what can I say! :) Linking yours to mine! Have a beautiful day! :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Beautiful photographs here! This will be a great link to my hub about the Great Backyard Bird Count! Voted up and beautiful!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Movie Master! It's always good to hear from you! You have some beautiful photography yourself. If you do venture into bird photography I hope this hub will be of some help. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my hub. It is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I have yet to venture into bird photography, so will find this help and advice useful, thank you for sharing a great hub and voted up.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello jenjohnson42. Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate your comments. Have a great day! :)


jenjohnson42 profile image

jenjohnson42 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Lovely photos and very informative hub with great photography tips.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello dilipchandra12. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate you reading my hub and commenting. Have a great day! :)


dilipchandra12 profile image

dilipchandra12 4 years ago from India

Coolest hub on Bird Photography, photos are awesome.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello paralegalpro. I'm glad I have inspired you! I reallyl thing you will get hooked on it. Thank you for your kind words. Have a great day! :)


paralegalpro 4 years ago

What a great hub! I love my back yard, my camera and birds - but have never put all three together into a hobby. Your tips have inspired me to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi moonlake! I too, love taking pictures of birds. I have never tried to video them, may have to think about doing that. Thank you for commenting on my new hub. It is always appreciated! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Docmo. Thank you very much for your kind comments! It is greatly appreciated. :)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I'm always taking pictures of birds in my backyard some are good and some are not. I also video tape them at the feeder.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Useful info on bird photography and i love the way it is illustrated with some beautiful shots of the avian variety. Nicely done!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you dj! Me too! Thanks for checking out my hub and comments, always appreciated! :)


djohns13 profile image

djohns13 4 years ago

Great info, I love backyard bird photography. Nice job.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello SweetiePie. Thank you for your kind comments and for visiting my hub. Always greatly appreciated! :)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA

Bird photography in your own backyard is a great opportunity to take their pictures. Also, I use my pictures I take of birds for my drawings. I really love the birds in your cute handmade bird feeder. Well done!

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