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How to Take a Picture of a Bird in Flight

Updated on November 26, 2014
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

A picture of a bird in flight is one of the most interesting pictures that can be taken of a bird since it shows the bird's magnificent wings in motion. Unfortunately, this kind of picture is often difficult to obtain. Birds fly fairly quickly, and it is tough to focus a camera in time to take a clear picture while a bird is in the air. Despite the difficulties, it can be done, and the results are amazing! Read on for tips and tricks for both film and digital cameras.

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Hawk and CrowHawk
Hawk and Crow
Hawk and Crow

Film or Simple Digital Camera

Taking a picture of a flying bird with a film camera or a simple digital camera relies almost entirely on luck. Aim the camera at a location where birds frequent, such as a bird feeder, birdbath, or nest, and snap a picture whenever a bird comes in or leaves. This will unfortunately result in a blur most of the time.

There is one option for these types of cameras that can result in picture of a flying bird, but the bird will likely be rather small in the picture. This option relies on finding a large, gliding bird, such as a hawk or vulture. When one of these soar overhead, there should be enough time to focus the camera and snap the picture. This works better with a larger zoom.

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ChickadeeRose-Breasted GrosbeakTufted Titmouse
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

Digital Camera

It is much easier to take a picture of a bird in flight using a standard digital camera. Simply locate the button for rapid burst on your camera to get started. This typically is represented by three overlapping rectangles. If you are having trouble finding this option, try looking it up in your camera's user manual. Once you have selected rapid burst, there are sometimes two choices: quality and speed. Either option should work fine.

Now you are ready to capture images of flying birds. Find a location where birds often flitter about and wait for one to show up. Once you see a bird, zoom in, focus the camera, and hold down the capture button. You should hear many clicks as the camera takes its photos. Let go of the button when you are done taking pictures. If the bird does not fly during this time, you can try walking closer as you take pictures. Be warned that this might make the pictures more blurry. The best approach is to stay steady and wait for the bird to fly on its own. This may take many attempts. Once you have finished, you can delete the multitude of photos that are not of interest, and believe me, there will be many. Then you can choose which pictures are the best. Enjoy the results!


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    • ccornblatt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cassidy Cornblatt 

      6 years ago

      I'm glad you all enjoyed it. I hope it's useful.

    • snowdrops profile image


      6 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Amazing.. thanks for this!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Thanks for sharing your secrets. I will use this! Voted up and shared!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is good information. Thanks for taking the time to write it!


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