Jun 05

Easy Backyard Bird Feeding Area for Photos

male cardinal on feeder sm'

It’s pretty easy to set up a feeding area to bring the birds closer so you can take some pictures.

bird feeder area

I recently upgraded my camera and decided to build a bird feeding area for practice taking pictures of wildlife.  As you can see, it’s doesn’t look like much!  I’ll be working on that, but for the moment this actually serves pretty well.  How you set up an area like this will depend on your camera.

My camera is a dSLR, and I have a 200mm lens on it that’s older than me.  With this combination I needed the feeder to be far enough away to be able to focus, at least nine feet.  It actually looks a lot further away in this photo, but it’s only about 15 feet from the window.

Later I plan to put potted plants on the ‘table’ to the right, behind the log.  Right now there are raisins on it.  You can also tuck foods like raisins into crevices in a log.

redbellied woodpecker sm

The hook the feeder is hanging from gives the birds a place to perch and look around before they eat.  The logs below the feeder are fallen branches from a tree out front.  This gives the birds another place to perch and can make the photos look more natural.  You can use all kinds of things to give the birds perches; it just depends on how natural you want your photos to look.

This woodpecker came just to check out the log.  Woodpeckers eat seeds and fruits as well, but my current feeder isn’t particularly suited to them.  There are a number of feeder and food types available, including dried mealworms.  Find out what birds are likely to be in your area to choose which ones to use.

Both the logs and the feeder are placed so that there is a green background for the photos.

shelves and stuff

Here’s what it looks like from inside.  Koshka’s shelf is right under the window.  (Mau’s shelf is under the other window.)  She and I use it to look at the birds.

Below Koshka’s shelf is a set of shelves for my stuff, and my box of lenses is on the top shelf.


And here are my lenses.  The tall one in the front is the one I use the most (a 200mm prime lens with an adapter for my camera).  I found the box at Burlington for $8.  It fits well on my shelf and holds all my lenses.

female cardinal sm

You can set yourself up to take some photos as well.  How you do that will depend on your camera.

If you have a telephoto lens you can set up like I have, putting the feeder and perches some distance from your observation area.  You will need to be careful about your windows in this case.  Anything that will break up reflections and make the window more obvious to birds will work.  This could be as simple as keeping your curtains or blinds closed when you’re not at the window.  There are a number of other options you can use as well.

titmouse a

If you have a point and shoot camera, you can do this too, but you can and may want to put your feeder much closer to your observation area.  If the feeders are close enough to the window, this will also help prevent birds from being injured.

house finch trio

It isn’t long before you start recognizing particular birds.  This group of house finches has been visiting since I installed the feeder.  It is a pair and one of their offspring.  I realized they were the same birds because one of the females (the one on the left) had a problem with her eye.  I’ve been watching her eye get better since.

blue jay sm

One last tip: just don’t buy the cheap mixed seeds.  The birds don’t want the filler seed that makes up the bulk of the mix.  They will dig through the seeds, throwing the filler seeds on the ground, just to get at the good ones.  A small bag of sunflower seed will last a lot longer than a larger bag of a cheap seed mix.  (I find this to be true even with squirrels taking some seed.  If you have really hungry squirrels you might have to take other steps.)

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