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5 Ways to Photograph Birds

Birds are beautiful animals to look at and are graceful in flight. However, it can be challenging to photograph birds due to their fast-moving nature.

Here are 5 methods to help you capture better bird photos.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

1) Go Wild

Have you ever wondered where to find birds and which are the best places to photograph them? My first tip is to seek out locations where you can photograph birds in the wild.

The great thing about birds is that you may come across them anywhere you go when on holiday or at home. Birds live everywhere in the wild, wherever there are nature and a place they can build a nest.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

Next time you are out walking in your local neighborhood, park or woods look up and listen out for birds in the local environment. Capturing birds in the wild offers you the opportunity to photograph them in their own natural habitat and therefore you can photograph them in their surroundings such as on a branch, in a nest, or in a bush.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

It is not easy to photograph birds of prey in the wild.

If you are really keen to capture great images of birds you may want to consider investing in a commercial hide to give you a better opportunity to capture rarer species that are likely to visit. Hides can provide camouflage and cover for you and will assist in preventing birds from getting scared and flying away which they may do when they become aware of your presence.

2) Get Close

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

Zoos and bird of prey centers allow you to get really close to birds in their enclosures. They are brilliant places to practice your bird photography skills. Enclosures provide fairly limited space meaning the birds are more visible and cannot fly as far as if they are out in nature.

At centers, the advantage is that birds are trained to fly near to visitors. This gives you the chance to capture images of birds of prey in flight and their natural behavior.

Most birds have amazing details such as their eyes, beaks and colorful feathers which are great subjects on which you can focus your camera.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

3) In your garden

It can be easy to ignore a photographic possibility right on your doorstep, but rewarding bird photography can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. Where woodland birds can be trickier to approach, birds visiting gardens can be enticed by providing food in your garden.

Leaving food out in your garden is a great way to attract birds living in nearby trees and bushes. Birds often have families to feed and will return regularly to your garden if they know it is a reliable food source. If you are lucky, you may witness birds feeding their fledgling young from the ground.

You can lay food on the ground or place it on an elevated bird table or feeder to capture more eye-catching pictures from higher up. A wide food choice will attract a greater diversity of birds. Blackbirds and song thrushes like sultanas while others like peanuts, seeds, or fat.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds - bird on a tree branch

Mornings are good for bird activity, while late autumn to early spring is the best season when there is a great opportunity to photograph rarer species.

4) Birds in Flight

The next recommendation for photographing birds is to capture them in flight. Birds are creatures of habit and will generally take the same flight paths to and from their nests. If you can, try and photograph them when they are moving whether at take-off, during landing, or mid-flight.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds - birds in flight

If you want to capture a good shot of a flying bird, you will need a fast shutter speed and will need to focus accurately.

In terms of equipment, you will generally need a lens with a longer reach to capture birds in flight.

5) Flocks

5 Ways to Photograph Birds - flock of birds

Birds tend to migrate in winter months and this allows the chance to photograph them all together. Groups of birds flying overhead can make interesting photos rather than when photographed individually as they form different shapes and patterns.

5 Ways to Photograph Birds

Sometimes, birds such as starlings flock together to protect themselves from predators. By joining together they make it difficult for falcons and sparrowhawks to target one bird and make great formations worth photographing. Flocks of birds can be photographed as a group either in motion or static.


Next time you go out with your camera to photograph birds, put these tips to the test and share what you capture. Add your photos and tips in the comments below.

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Jeremy Flint
Jeremy Flint

Jeremy Flint is an award-winning photographer and writer, specialising in travel, landscape and location photography and is known for documenting images of beautiful destinations, cultures and communities from around the world. Jeremy has won awards including the National Geographic Traveller Grand Prize and the Association of Photographers Discovery Award, besides being commended in Outdoor Photographer of the Year. He has also been a finalist in the Travel Photographer of the year and British Photography Awards several times. He has been commissioned by commercial and editorial clients worldwide including National Geographic Traveller, Country Life, Discover Britain, USA National Parks and Visit Britain and has travelled extensively to over 65 countries.

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