Photographing Garden Birds

The garden is usually the best place to start out in amateur bird photography, but it can also be a great place to take professional photographs too.


The great advantages of taking photographs in your garden include already having a good awareness of the environment, available light, habitats, resources, and obviously you don’t have to travel anywhere.  As it’s your garden, you also have the ability to set the stage by adding bird feeders, pruning back trees to let in light, setting up a hide in your shed and clearing debris or distractions from the background of your photographs.




Depending on the size of your garden, you may want to set aside just a small area to use for bird photography.  This may be a place that can be easily viewed from several different rooms in your house, the shared, the garage, and any other advantage point that can add variety to the angle of your shots.  It will also help you to concentrate resources in one area, for example, setting up your camera and tripod to stay focused on your chosen location for long periods of time. Essentially, your chosen location should enable you to get close enough to the birds to be able to take pictures, where the subject will fill the frame and not just be some distant speck from the bottom of your garden.


The location should also have a number of natural features that will make it attractive to birds. This could include an area that attracts a lot of warm from the sun, food from nearby plants, shelter from predators and also a good vantage point for them to be able to look out for danger.




Having chosen the best location and set up the site to optimise the opportunity for taking great bird photographs, now all you need to do is quickly consider the background of your shots.  Stand in the various locations from which you would ordinarily take photographs of the birds, look through the lens and then consider the effect that the background will have on your pictures.  The neighbours washing line, a wheelie bin, a telegraph pole, a bright flower, a large branch, and outside light (that may be off at the moment, but could be on when you take your picture) can all easily ruin a great photograph.


Once you’ve eliminated the obvious background problems, also consider the overall colour and texture of the background and whether or not it will contrast with the birds in the foreground.  Remember, that most birds live in habitats that provide them with some degree of camouflage. However, this can often mean that they do not stand out from the background, when you take their photograph. You may also find that taking a picture of a blackbird against the backdrop of a very pale natural stone wall will give you a few unwanted problems with adjusting your camera’s exposure settings


Attracting Birds


Once you have chosen your location, you will need to start thinking about bringing birds into that area of the garden.  If your garden doesn’t already have all of the natural characteristics that will be attracted to birds, like food, water and shelter, then you may need to set up feeders, create shelter, and also provide somewhere for the birds to drink and bathe.


By offering a variety of foods, you’re more likely to attract a variety of species, so consider things like fruit, seeds, suet, kitchen scraps and peanuts.  It is also essential that you do not overlook the need for water, and you may even find that this is the single most attractive feature for birds in your garden.


When choosing your feeders, bird baths, bird table and and shelter etc keep in mind that most of these objects will end up in some of your photographs.  To this end, as well as being functional, the above items is need to be relatively attractive.