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Photographing A Songbird

Updated on September 12, 2013
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

A songbird's song entails recording images of songbirds and the good thing is that almost every part of the world has a wide variety of them, therefore, traveling great distances to locate suitable subjects is not necessarily a must. However, researching your particular area in order to acquaint yourself with your local songbird species is a must.

First what is a songbird? Wikipedia has a very comprehensive list and the article can be very helpful in helping identify them and set up your project. Pay attention to their habits, perching preferences, nesting sites and food groups too.

Other sources include the US National Park Service and various ornithological organizations such as The National Audubon Society of the United States. This last one is quite helpful with designation of songbirds by state and region.

Often you may need to set up feeding stations in order to attract them but this only adds to the general enjoyment of the entire project as well as providing other sources of food for the benefit of the many species as well as bringing you one step closer to nature itself.

You will need to patiently wait for the birds to not only locate the feeding site but also to become accustomed to visiting it on a regular basis.

Most pet shops have a n ample supply of songbirds foods and a simple hanging basket or plate is often enough to deposit the seeds and allow songbirds to regularly visit it.

Whereat you call them by their common name of songbirds or by the more scientific denomination of passerines, they are a substantially large genus and photos should not be too difficult to record although the main ingredient to do so will be patience and a sharp eye, maybe even a sharp ear. Along with a zoom lens with a 300mm being the recommended size or anything larger if you want to capture close ups.

Remember to take along your flash to use it as source of fill in light when your subjects are perched in less than ideal locations, such as in heavy brush and enveloped in shadows.

"A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, assongbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with over 5,000 identified species,[1] it has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal orders, the Rodentia. It contains over 110 families, the second most of any order of vertebrates (after the Perciformes)." Wikipedia

Once you locate suitable subjects aim to record them in full body poses accompanied by close ups of their beaks and eyes. Most are usually colorfully attired with some notable exceptions such as Florida's state bird the mockingbird. This particular subject features a high pitched song but it's covered in a rather dull grayish plumage but is very active during mating season and can be found in the entire state, usually perched atop the tallest point in any location.

A good selection of images is easily converted into a poster featuring all of the species, can be submitted to photographic stock houses, book publishers, nature publications and ornithology publications.

Images should also include both the males and the females to allow for an easier recognition as well as a list and photos of their basic favorite trees and foliage subjects like for example where do they usually like to make their nests. Another variation is to photograph them on a per region basis; birds of the South, birds of the North and so on or you can also do it by state like birds of Florida, birds of Georgia etc.

A more complete project will involve adding, in text form, the common and scientific names of each species to each photograph. This will make it more likely or more appealing to any publishers looking for a thorough songbird photographic project.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

This project will probably take a while to complete since like mentioned before there are thousands of species and that's just in the United States and Canada.

If possible you can substantiate your work with other species from other parts of the world.

There are many international organizations which can cater a trip with the specific purpose of photographing species and they already have first hand experience dealing with them as well as knowing when to take you and where.

Their local environmental knowledge is always a plus. Often saving you alot of time, money and effort.

Take advantage of any of the deals that they regularly offer and enjoy your photographic experiences.

One of the best experiences that I have gone through was a trip to Costa Rica via one of these outfits.

The accommodations were first class, comfortable and quite quaint and located right in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest within a short canoe ride to most locations and full of exotic specimens.

Just keep in mind that researching their habits, locations and such will be a great resource not only to locating your subjects but knowing when they are more active and more likely to express their musical talents.

Finally, keep in mind that this project does not involve photographing birds that simply chirp or make similar noises.

Your goal in order to make it a more coherent project is to photograph birds that have something in common; they are truly considered to be songbirds and are recognized for such intonations.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • taratabet profile image

      taratabet 5 years ago from Avalon

      Great hub.

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 5 years ago from Norway

      This is a wonderful hub. Specially the pictures. It makes you realize the passion of bird watching as in the movie, 'the big year'. thanks. rated awesome.

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Pictures are great, Luis. I am a real bird lover. I have feeders and bird baths all over my yard. I do take pictures, but through a screen on the window. If I go out they fly away.

      Informative and wonderful hub.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn: You need a new box, perhaps a much bigger one?

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      I do - do birds. I especially love birds of prey. Those are stunning pix. I never thought of grouping them though. There go the edges of the box again Luis.