Where To Find the Birds

Where to find the birds

Look up you dope! Keep your mouth closed and just look up. What…. still don’t see any birds?  Maybe it is because you can’t sit still…. seriously.

OK, where do I go to get pictures of all these different birds?  Actually, they are literally all around you.  No I am not being flip about this, of course there are birds all around you, but unless you pay close attention, they are all pretty much the same: they crap on your clean car and that is about it.  But if you start taking a close look, you will be surprised at the large number of species within 100 yards around you.

Now you won’t see a Hooded Merganser in your pine tree, for these, you need to be near a marsh as they are water fowl.  But whether you are in your own yard or out in a New Jersey salt marsh, what you need to do is still the same: Sit still, wait, wait, wait, and the birds will appear.

Go to the water

The best places I found to see the biggest variety of birds is go near water and a bit of woods.  Our federal nature reserves are always the best, but being near water anywhere will produce great results.  The pictures I am showing here in the carousel above, were taken all at the same place near a reservoir in Western PA over a few weekends.   This reservoir has old roads that were flooded back in the early 1960s when a dam was constructed to control flooding.  I just park my car, and start walking down the old broken road trails and stop where, well, it just looks like a nice place to sit or stand.  All of these pictures were taken near the water, on one of these trails, and all within about 50 yards of each other.  That is right, I walked only about 100 yards from my car and nailed all of these species.

I never knew so much diversity existed in one place (almost any place) until I stopped, waited and payed attention.

Birds move in patterns

If you see something cool and it takes off, there is a good chance the bird will return.  You just wait.  I’ve noticed birds fly in patterns and seem to go from the same tree to the same bush, disappear for a while and then run the same pattern.  This is one reason waiting pays off.  The other reason waiting works, is that birds don’t like unfamiliar movements.  If you can sit still for a while, they seem to not notice you.  Wave your arm and they scatter.  So if you take a walk in the woods near water and don’t see much, listen closely…… you will hear them.  If you hear them, you will see them if you just sit down, and wait patiently.

Getting a good photograph

Unfortunately, you do need a long lens.  Here, more money helps.  It just does.  The higher quality (and cost) of your equipment will result in better shots.  Get you shutter up over 1000 as birds move.  You want good light so sunny days are best.  And like all outdoor photography, watch your background.   The best backgrounds are dense greenery and not open sky as open sky will throw off your metering system and give you a blacked out bird.

Birds in this post

Can you ID these birds?  Here is a list, you gotta match ’em up.

  • Cedar Waxwing
  • House Wren
  • White Tailed Deer (ok, not a bird)
  • Snapping Turtle (very dangerous, this guy was HUGE)
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Tree Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Grey Catbird
  • Some Other Turtle
  • Song Sparrow

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5DSr
  • Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS
  • Gitzo 3530LS carbon fiber tripod
  • Wimberley II gimbal head
  • LightRoom 6.latest

Location Types: Shenango Reservoir. Galleries: 5DSr, Birds, and Nature. Tags: 500mm and 5D Mk II.

3 Responses to “Where To Find the Birds”

  1. HoremWeb August 1, 2016 9:17 am #

    Great article and good images!

    if you live in such place, it may be enough to sit in front of your window (inside) and wait. Waiting is the key. And the gear.

    Oh, and turtle is not a bird either. 😉

    Have nice lights!

  2. Annette November 14, 2016 11:24 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures! I love sitting out back of my house and watching the birds. I have 5 feeders and they are all over! Some day I’d like to invest in a great camera! I’d love to take pictures like these! Thanks Bruce!

  3. Carolyn November 17, 2016 3:36 pm #

    Hi, Bruce. You visited Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center this past summer and watched a “Meet the Raptors” show as well as snapped some terrific photos of our birds in captivity. Now that the SCEC is undergoing renovations and my amphitheater shows are postponed until next year, I must find alternate means to stay close to any birds (the feeder will go out this weekend!) Your photos are fantastic and your devotion to your hobby is palpable. Keep up the great work!

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