Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Birding COVID-19 Style?

It wasn’t intentionally a “shelter at home” precaution but the ongoing pandemic safety measures gave me more time to think about taking some neat bird photographs without even having to go outside.

Our new hummingbird feeder purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited is located on a window along our back porch, attached to a colorful frog figure we have had there for years.

The window is also perpendicular to our sunroom where our main television is located.  The TV is in the same line of sight (through another window) of the hummingbird feeder.

As the precious little birds started to become regulars at the feeder we would see them coming and going at all times of the day.

And soon my photographer mind hit on the idea of trying to take quality close up pictures of the male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

I know from experience that these tiny creatures are very fast and difficult to photograph. Previously we had a hummingbird feeder in a different back porch spot. Sitting as still as possible in a chair on the porch I patiently tried to get decent still images of these flighty birds with some success.

But I knew this new inside-to-outside shooting set up could be much more efficient and successful.  I had recently cleaned all the windows so I gave another cleaning to the window through which I would be shooting. And I took off the screen.

I was able to get a nice clear tight focus on the feeder, and steady too thanks to the tripod. I set the timer on my Canon SX50 to two seconds, knowing this would help with steadiness and focus (pressing the button to take a photo moves the camera slightly).

Comfortable with my camera set up, all I had to do was sit and wait. I had observed that from 4:30-6:30 p.m. the sun is directly on the feeder so that’s when I’d we watching (watching TV too, the news usually).

The hummingbirds would come feed on the tasty liquid sugar mix every few minutes or sometimes several minutes would go by between visits.

The two photos above are of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I was pleased over the course of a few days to get several nice pictures of her.

The male (right) didn’t come as often, but I knew he was around because I had seen him at the feeder. The third or fourth watch period for me, I finally was able to capture the male for whom this colorful little bird is named- ruby throat et al.

I like that in these two separate photos that look identical he seems to be looking at me.

When the mood strikes I may try to get more photos like these to add to this post.

Out in nature, even if it’s just your backyard feeders, getting high-quality bird photographs is not easy. A complex bird blind may be needed to have a tripod set up as I was able to do in the comfort of my sunroom.

This was a challenging experiment that I’m pleased went so well.

It’s the type of birding anecdote I share throughout my book titled “Nature-ly Fun! Bird Photography From A-Z.” (the book, in both hard and soft cover versions is available from me directly through this website, my books are listed at the top of the homepage, and through Amazon).

This is a great hobby that anyone can start anytime. All you need is a camera with good zoom capabilities, a monopod or tripod, and the desire and means to go where birds like to go!  Or bring them to you with your own feeders.

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