January 16, 2011

Photographing Our Feathered Friends

Many of us are getting tired of all the snow and cold weather that has been visiting us in the U.S. But we can pass the time more quickly and enjoyably by feeding our feathered friends! In return for our largesse, we can see wildlife up close and also grab a little photography practice time.

Our feeder is positioned about 15 feet from my home office window, and hubby keeps it regularly filled up with sunflower seeds. It took several weeks before the birds finally discovered it, but we have routine visitors now. Our guests include sparrow, downy woodpecker, chickadee, and titmouse.

The birds in our neighborhood generally do not linger very long at the feeder. They grab their morsels and quickly fly! So it is a challenge to capture their photographic images. I have my camera set up on a tripod, and I place the end of the lens as close as possible next to the window glass. My trusty 18-200 mm zoom lens with vibration reduction is in service. A fast shutter speed is essential and also a shallow depth of field. The recent snowfall has made a perfect, uncluttered background. With overcast skies, a high ISO setting is necessary, though it adds unfavorable digital noise (i.e., graininess) to the images. I have been shooting in the “camera raw” image format so that I can have better processing control over highlights and shadows. (I know how much Miz Sally loves it when I talk camera, LOL!)

Chickadees are difficult to photograph because they practically vibrate with energy. They are faster than my shutter finger most of the time.

The sparrows had quite a picnic feast on the ground when the big snowfall arrived a week ago. This fellow looks like he’s ready to fight if you try to take away the seed in his beak!

A titmouse is very willing to give a handsome pose like this one.

And it is always thrilling to see an adorable downy woodpecker swoop in for a meal. It’s funny to see the other birds scamper whenever he flies in!

With any kind of wildlife photography, it is essential to take lots of pictures so that you can capture a few good poses. I hope you feed your local birds and have lots of fun taking their portraits too. It’s inexpensive entertainment!


  1. You took some amazing photos! The ones of the birds right on the snow really make the birds look 3D! We have so many birds here in Florida right now...I think more have flown south this year! ♥

  2. You got some great images. I like the first one and last one the best. Nice work.

  3. Great pictures, Donna! I was trying to take pics of birds at our feeders today. Didn't get any good ones, though!

  4. Wow, wow, wow! Beautiful job! I love your tips on photographing birds. I have a bird post scheduled for tomorrow and the photos are not anywhere near this clear! You are so nice to share your tips with us.

  5. Gorgeous photos, Donna! I really love the Downy Woodpecker photo!

  6. Sooo Beautiful! I appreciate your talent with the camera so much. Maybe with just a bit of envy... well no, actually lots of it.

  7. Oh I so need to get that lens for my camera. Your photos are gorgeous. I've heard about shooting in RAW but I've never tried that. I do agree that watching the birds can be very entertaining. It's such a thrill when you see a new one show up too

  8. Thank you for letting me know the name of my woodpecker. I do not have a fancy camera and wouldn't know what to do with it either. I do need one with a stronger zoom. My birds are right here with me and at the kitchen sink.

    However, each time I fill one particular bird feeder, Rocky Raccoon comes at 3:45 a.m. and we say hi and he eats away. I don't even bother shooing him away. He's cute.

    Your photos are perfect, Donna!

  9. Oh, they're all magnificent! I do love when you 'camera talk', but as you also know, I don't have CLUE what you're talkin' about, and assume that's what you had in mind.

    Have a wonderful, blessed day, my sweet friend. ((hugs))

  10. Hahahaaaa....I just busted out laughing when I got to the Sparrow's photo...Boy, he Does look a bit...hacked! Love it!
    These are GORGEOUS Donna! Should be in a magazine!

  11. Ohhh I'm lovin' these pics! I'm still waiting for time to sit and watch the feeder for birds here. Your pics are great!

  12. Fabulous photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Oh how I love the birdies ... and your pictures are astounding, Donna! Your diligence sure do pay off, girl.

    Yesterday when it was nearly twilight and I was about 50 miles from home, desperate for my own pillow and my own bed, a HUGE bird -- TG thinks it must've been a hawk, but then he's a hawk fanatic -- hit my car as I was driving 75 mph on I-26. It hit just at the back of my left rear mirror and turned it on its hinge all the way flush with the car, destroying both mirror and bird.

    Did I mention he was HUGE? -:~/

  14. Donna, Great bird pics!! Love taking pics of our feathered friends.


  15. I could look at these beautiful shots all day....

  16. You are an amazing wildlife photographer! You really should consider submitting some of these to some type of wildlife magazine. They are wonderful!

  17. Thanks for explaining how you did it. Now I know why none of mine will be successful. :D


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